Monday, April 20, 2009

Seniors are very very stressed

Oh boy.

Seniors are very very stressed. I don't know how they are able to cope with what they do, but they somehow manage to do it.

Big 4 accounting is probably the only job in the world where you don't want a promotion. A promotion from intermediate to senior leads to lower hourly salary and much higher levels of stress.

I mean junior life sucks cause you do meaningless work; but senior life sucks even more because you do slightly less meaningless work...followed by cleaning up the junior's meaningless work. And worst of all is if you get the bad juniors. The juniors who blindly foot and make incorrect references. =(

To be honest, I don't really understand how seniors get job satisfaction. It is something that always mystified me. My only explanation is that Big 4 creates perfect slaves who are happy to get exploited.

One angry partner once told our hard working audit team "You should be happy to have a job in this economy."

My senior seemed so defeated and looked like she was about to cry. I was so angry that I wanted to shout back, "You should be lucky you're dropping 400K+ on the modern world's form of child slavery."

Of course I didn't.

To put things into perspective, if you worked in a public sector job and had to work the amount of hours that we did and not get paid overtime, your boss would get sued. But in the professional world, people happily accept it.

Please not the angry partner's argument is BS by the way. We were working long hours for them when the economy was blooming, and we're working even harder for them now that they laid off our co-workers.

Partners keep their 400K+ salary. We work more overtime.

Moving on...

The worst part is that Seniors get blamed for everything bad, and managers get rewarded for everything good. Basically if the senior does a good job, the manager looks good. If the senior does a bad job, the manager blames it on the senior. Complete corporate backstabbing at its finest.

There are some seniors who look OK. But honestly, even the ones who are good at managing stress just get more work handed to them until they reach the tip of the breaking point. Forget family or relationship commitments. During busy season, you don't have family, friends or a girlfriend or boyfriend. You have your working paper file and you better prepare it damn well.

Why is it so bad?
You have to micromanage intermediates and juniors who don't know what to do.
You also have to manage the "managers". Managers have many different audits to manage so they need the senior to basically be their go-to-guy. You need to help the manager "manage" the partner. You have to "manage the client" You have to manage unhappy clients some time.

Then, if you get a bad junior or intermediate. You do their work basically cause your ass is on the line.

So ya, expect life to suck a lot as a senior. Some of my senior friends average 80 hour weeks during busy season. I don't know if you see something wrong with that but I do.

I will end my post on a happy note though about my friend who reached breaking point. I once had a senior friend who no longer works at Big 4 and has moved on to happier things in life. One of the few friends I truly respect. He was a very "no bs" kind of guy.

He was on an audit where the manager was being a complete "b...h" *fill in the gaps*
The manager was power hungry and I think up for promotion. She basically threatened my friend, the senior, with a terrible review if the audit wasn't perfect. She wanted him to stay and do insanely inhumane overtime. She would criticize him for the smallest of mistakes, and basically be extremely annoying. Oh yea, the client sucked too.

My friend quit the firm one week before the audit deadline leaving the manager hanging on her own. He also sent a nasty letter to the partner of the firm talking about the manager. This basically meant the manager had to be the manager and senior with one week left till audit deadline. Subsequently, I think 3 months or so later, the manager was fired. Karma sucks.
I respect my friend because he was fed up and enough was enough. There comes a time when if its time to go home, its time to go home. Lots of people in big 4 are "approval seekers" They can't take it if someone doesn't like them. As a result, they let people take advantage of them.

My advice in this post... haha, I forgot I was supposed to have advice.

There comes a point when its not worth it. Forget how close you are to getting your CA. Forget what your friends or family think. Forget the salary.

If you can't take it, you should quit. There are aspects of the big 4, and the auditing practice ( i don't mean to single out big 4) I truly do not believe are human practices. I see so many sad seniors out there. They are not even stressed or angry anymore. They are defeated. They accept the fact that their life will be like this. Why? because getting their CA means they will do anything. Getting their CA is more important than their health, family or friends. They think getting their CA is a life or death thing.

It is not. My friend btw, didn't finish getting his CA. He was 16 months into his experience and in his first year senioring at Deloitte. After quitting, he pursued his passion in acting. His salary took a 70% drop. He is now married with a baby and I have never seen him more happy in his life.


  1. By seniors, you mean senior associates right?

    I didn't expect that to be the case. I thought that the worst was in your first year. You are hired without being told that there was a busy season and expected to keep the pace.

  2. I couldn't agree more!
    Regards from Croatia...

  3. really good post...

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