Advantages and Disadvantages of working in a public accounting firm

My Personal Background

I worked in an accounting firm in Cebu City, Philippines for 3+ years. When I resigned, my last position was an in-charge level under the tax division of the firm. This was my first job after I passed the CPA board exam.

In this post, I will share my experiences when I was still employed in the firm.

Advantages of working in an accounting firm:

1. Learning, Experiences and Growth

Working in an accounting firm made me apply what I learned from my undergraduate studies. I learned to appreciate my course as a practicing tax consultant.  

I also got to travel a lot of places in the Philippines because of the different locations of our clients.

I also got to attend free internal and external seminars hosted by the firm itself (Each seminar costs around P2,000 – P22,000 depending on the topic and the number of days required to finish the seminar).

There are endless learning and experiences when you are in a firm and its never going to get boring because your work today is not the same tomorrow. You will learn how to manage your time well.

2. Reputation

I meet various clients from different industries and they always had high regard to people working in an accounting firm and seldom they’re also scared of them. I remembered one client having a hard time in focusing when I was by her side. She would tell me to come back when she’s already finished. I actually made friends to some of them but I also made conflicts to some (but now we’re already friends). 

They usually trust the recommendation of the firm and its people and often ask for help when they need help. Sometimes, they also use the name of the firm if they have any problems with government agencies especially with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

3. Peers and Friends

When working in the firm, you will always be working with a team. Most of them are at your age range. They are easy to get along because they share the same experiences with you. They will be like your second family because you will be spending majority of your time with them. They can be your comfort in times of stress and sadness. They will also be your cheering team in times of your fulfillment and happiness. They will also lend their helping hand (if they’re not busy with their own work) in your times of need. They are mostly there for you.

The supervisors and bosses will also serve as your inspiration. They will teach you when you ask them something you don’t understand and they’ll be gladly to help you. You will be amazed at how they deal with clients (even to arrogant and demanding ones) and how they talk during the seminars. You will also be amazed of how patient they are. No matter how many times you were wrong, they will never give up on you. You will also wonder how they did it, how they endured all the sacrifices, how they made their decision to stay in the firm. We look up to them.

4. Income

As a starting salary, most accounting firms has a higher salary than most private firms (I’m referring to Cebu City setting). You will also receive lots of benefits like a promotion or a raise depending on your performance. The amounts will vary on which public firm you are in.

When you resign from a public firm, your market value will usually go up. I heard that some private companies offer a 6 digit income per month for those holding a managerial role! Lucky dude!

5. Fulfillment and Growth

Every finished engagement, there will always be that sense of fulfillment that you have helped the public with your sacrifices. It’s never easy and looking back, you will be proud of yourself of how you deal with the struggles.

 

Despite of all the advantages stated above, there are also reasons why I left the firm.

Disadvantages of working in an accounting firm:

1. Work is never ending

Whenever 1 engagement finished, there was always another engagement starting and it was a never ending process. Slack time is very rare. Since I was in the tax division, we were busy all throughout the year. I handled not only 1 client, but maybe 5-10 clients at the same time.

2. Lack of time for oneself and for loved ones

When I was in the firm, I often missed on family and friends’ gatherings. If I was in the parties, I was often late or I had to leave early during these events because of unfinished work. I seldom had any spare time even during in my non-office hours because I had to finish lots of work due to tight deadlines.

3. Compromise of health

In a public accounting firm, I worked even after my 8 hour shift. I often go home late or sometimes I don’t go home at all especially during the busy season (December to April). That’s why I get sick (coughs, colds, flu or fever) often during the busy season even if I drink vitamin C everyday. It was a really tough time for me. Sometimes, I even find myself crying while working because of how tired I was.

 

Conclusion

Overall, I still recommend joining a public accounting firm if you’re a fresh graduate and recently passed the CPA board exam. The reason I had to resign was because of my health and my other priorities. I am now working in a private Company and I’m really happy of my current job. I hope this post could help future CPAs decide whether to join a public accounting firm.