Friday, November 27, 2009

Working with the Big 4 – What I Miss

I’m feeling a little bit nostalgic here. Christmas season is just around the corner. And no, I’m not nostalgic because of the coming holidays. It’s what comes afterwards that I’m remembering – the busy season. With the 8 years I spent in an auditing firm, the season kind of grew on me and even though I’ve been gone for over two years now, there are still a lot of things I miss working for the auditing firm. Let me just list some of them.

I miss…the food. A lot of my clients actually give us free food for lunch or dinner, or even both! One even served buffet lunch or dinner. In the office, the last month or so before the actual deadline, dinner is also free. No wonder a lot of us grow bigger during the busy season. All those food and no time to exercise...

I miss…the coffee. There were times when we were working until the early hours of the morning and we need something to keep us awake. Our solution? Go out and buy brewed coffee from Starbucks (which is just a few blocks away from the office / client). There was even a time when my boss brought in a coffee maker in the office so that we can brew coffee anytime we want. Sure the office smelled like coffee but for us, coffee lovers, that smell was great. So brewed coffee at 1:00 am in the morning, anyone?

I miss…my friends. Working in an auditing firm during the tax busy season can leave you little time to socialize with your friends outside the firm. But take heart. You can find good friends even inside the auditing firm. Sure you don’t see each other during the day because you’re too busy in the client’s office. But after 5 pm, some of us go back to the office, which meant we saw each other more frequently. I met some of my very close friends during my stint in the auditing firm. Oh and, by the way, that coffee-break will not be complete if you don’t share it with friends.

I miss…my boss. Now I know there are a lot of auditors out there who complain that their boss is a complete @ss, but my boss is not like that. Sure he loves to pressure us to finish the audit on time and to produce what he wants us to produce but what is a boss for right? But the knowledge I gained from my boss plus those times when I butted heads with him because we disagreed on something – these are the things I miss.
I miss…my clients. Who value what we do for them. Sometimes I have clients who think of me as just “another auditor”. But there are some who show how they appreciate what we do and these are the clients I really miss.

I miss…gaining knowledge from the firm. When you’re in a Big 4 or even a medium-size auditing firm, their knowledge base on GAAP / IFRS, auditing standards, ethics, etc. is really huge. You might take it for granted when you’re still inside the firm (especially since it is available at the click of your mouse) but once you get out, you’ll appreciate it and even miss it. Now that I’m out of the firm, I do everything – my own research, my own consultation, my own interpretation, etc. If I can just tap into that knowledge base…oh well, wishful thinking on my part.

I miss…the pressure and the adrenaline rush! Let’s face it. Some of us can really get addicted to working very hard, facing enormous pressure and the adrenaline rush. Call me a workaholic if you like but admit it. There’s nothing more satisfying than finishing your audit work and the audit report on time every time. And it’s not the same every year. Above everything else, auditing and working inside an auditing firm is not a boring job. Huge pressure, late nights, week-end work – YES, but boring? Definitely, no!

Working for the Big 4 (and even other auditing firms) during the busy season can really be a pain in the @ss and you have to face a lot of cr@p along the way. But hey, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get anything good from working as an auditor. There are a lot of good things inside the Big 4 and if you just think about it, there are a lot of things you will miss when you go out. So tell me again that you don’t miss anything when you worked for the Big 4?


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