Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Skills You Need When Working for the Big 4 (Part I)


What are the skills that you need to be an auditor? A new way to look at these skills.

For those who already have their careers or those who are still applying for a job (whether in the Big 4 or in private companies), I’m pretty sure you have encountered phrases like “must possess the following skills” or “skills required for the jobs”, etc. Well, working for the Big 4 and becoming an external auditor is no exception.

Let me just tick off some of these skills based on what I have learned in an auditing firm – people skills, leadership skills, technical skills, communication skills and time management skills. Nice set of skills, right? Admit it; they sound nice. But then again, if you’re working for the Big 4, what do they really mean exactly? Here’s a new way to look at these skills.

People skills means you have to handle a lot of people, from different ages, with different personalities. It also means that you must NOT (in fact NEVER) talk back to your senior / manager / partner when he or she is reprimanding you for not doing something he or she should have done in the first place (makes sense?). 

Good people skills entail learning how to nod your head meekly when your manager says you have to work overtime during the week-end (even though you secretly know that the reason why he is telling you that is because he will be on a week-end getaway with his family and just wants you to cover his @ss when the partner comes looking for him). 

Lastly, possessing good people skills also means that you stay patient and try to look cool (if you can manage it, smile) at 2:00 AM while you are discussing accounting issues with an insomniac client who is insisting that his or her accounting / disclosure is correct and who does not want to listen to you when you say he or she is wrong.

Leadership skills - one of my worst (if not the worst) busy season was when I was a new senior, with a new partner, with new juniors working for a new client and the only one who has experience with that client is my new manager. And then the manager up and left all of us with barely two months before the busy season! And they didn’t think to replace her, leaving me to handle the whole team and the new client (that happens to be a small publicly-listed company). Aarrrrghhh!

So what about leadership skills (and no, I’m not going to say I acquired the skills during that time, on the contrary, I nearly blew the whole thing up!)? It means you are ready to handle new juniors (even though you’re still in your second year with that firm) and their endless questions / queries / worries / mistakes / errors. And no, you can’t brush them off as easily as you want to. 

If you’re a senior, this skill means you can make your junior follow you while you are also (blindly?) following your manager and partner. 

If you’re a manager, it means you know how to delegate all the work to your senior and junior while you just sit back and wait for them to give you the working papers for your review (nice one!). And then you meet with the partner and impress him or her because he or she thinks you are doing all the hard work (believe me when I say there are managers who are like that)! 

Part II (see below)





10 comments:

  1. Good people skills entail learning how to nod your head meekly when your manager says you have to work overtime during the week-end (even though you secretly know that the reason why he is telling you that is because he will be on a week-end getaway with his family and just wants you to cover his @ss when the partner comes looking for him).

    This isn't "good people skills"; this is being a doormat and perpetuating the crappy, horrendous treatment of junior staff.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous, LOL, that part was written with a sarcastic tone. Seriously, I don't think that's a good skill either but to be frank about it, some juniors do that just to get on their managers' good sides, and, good or bad, that's a skill (especially if it goes against the junior's real personality).

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is good because it is the other side of the coin. of course if you try to read other stories "on becoming a CA" many of it are saying the plus side. and academic advisers wont actually help because they will and they will convince you to take and enroll their course (accounting) anyhow, anyway haha. now, im thinking twice. i know counting and balancing 100+invoices, verifying amounts, calculations here in there everyday is boring to some but wow.... what to do what to do? that's an accountants job. oh my gosh, and many say accountants dont really get paid that much. Yeah. Like nurses are even paid more. Ohh wait a minute, i think even street sweepers are paid more than accountants... grr. WTF dude. W-T-F!!! we got our ass kicked doing all that accounting subjects and just to get smack in the butt. (im not talking about senior accountants here okay? of course they are paid more, im talking about basic accounting staffs. Those who do the real deal number crunching hokus pokus chenes.) so that's the problem. anyway, let's hope emievil will write more story about the CA/Big4 life coz i find it very interesting blog. I mean i do read some blogs about CA being a great career to get but....

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  4. Thanks msl25. Should I say accounting really is a great career? Seriously, I think it is. But hey, like any other profession, you need to slug it out here. It's not all bed of roses, more so with the Big 4. But if you want to take up accounting, please do. At least you know already what to expect. :)

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  5. i want to go home after work then watch TV, play computer, clean the house, or joke around with my wife but it seems its not gonna happen if i am a CA with all those hardships ahead. but i wanna be a CA so be it. i'll write to this blog after 4 years (hopefully i'll be an auditor then) and share my experiences too. thanks emievil for your stories.

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  6. Anonymous, hope you're not serious with giving all those stuff up so that you'll become a CA? They're simple joys and I don't think you'll have to give them up, period. Thanks for the comment and good luck. Hope to see you dropping by once in a while in this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous, LOL, that part was written with a sarcastic tone. Seriously, I don't think that's a good skill either but to be frank about it, some juniors do that just to get on their managers' good sides, and, good or bad, that's a skill (especially if it goes against the junior's real personality).

    It was clearly a sarcastic tone, but what scares me is that it's true...and that sarcastic or not, you're promoting that people actually continue to behave this way??

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  8. No, I'm not. As you said, it is true and that is how I portrayed it. Whether the readers will behave in the same way, that is up to them, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
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