Follow-Up On More Big 4 Layoffs

By • Mar 6th, 2008 • Category: Deloitte, EY, KPMG, Layoffs at Deloitte (And Others), PricewaterhouseCoopers, Pure Content, Your Career

As we’ve seen from the comments on my PwC layoff post and other mail I’ve received, PwC is not the only one to be reducing staff via “counseling out” , “forced ranking” , “the Italian greyhounds ate the workpapers…”, or whatever other excuse they give. Both Deloitte and KPMG have also seen cuts, per my mail.

So E&Y, let me hear from you guys, please, to round out the info.

Dear Ms. McKenna
…the firms appear to be spending substantially less on new hire training. Uncle D., for instance, trained all new hires in a specific service line in Phoenix for the last few years at a swanky hotel/resort. This year, though, they are dumping us in god’s armpit: North Jersey. Ostensibly, it would seem, to keep costs down since most new hires are in the NE and it was the Midwest that was recently whacked by the “counseling out”.

Dear Reader,
Yes, this is aligned with the idea of fewer new hires too. Any word on any offers being rescinded?

Dear Ms. McKenna,
I’m a former KPMG employee as of the end of February, as I was hit by a bus when I entered the partners office saying that “due to the market change for our practice (Advisory), your skills are no larger needed, so we are letting you go.”

KPMG has been hiring left and right and promising that there is all this work in the “pipeline” in the last year, but you never hear about the outcome. They let me and three other people that I know of so far go and we have eight new college hires starting between April and August. We also just had four college new hires start as of last August. I do have industry experience and have been with the firm over two years, so I know that I have more “skills” to offer than any of the new hires and future new hires.

They have never been very good about the hiring process as it seems every time we did win a new client we need to make a mad dash so hire new employees to manage the account rather than use the ones we have locally or at another office. We promoted both managers and senior managers recently and if you ask me, we are way too top heavy and should have started to make the slashes there and cut some of the new hires. The real thing that pissed me off with the whole thing is that I was just finishing up on a client and they had the audacity to ask me to wrap up sooner and transition my work over so I could leave early that Friday instead of coming in on Monday. .

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502 Responses »

  1. i was unaware that the layoffs at KPMG were anything but dumping the “needs improvement” performers. I’m sorry that sucks…I believe that a lot of the “pipeline” work related to the “big wins” that were supposed to come through and never materialized (AIG). also, stemming off of the E&Y comment re: crappy training locations… all the big 4 are moving toward that…i know uncle peat purchased an old college campus in the dirty jerz to “convert” into a sweet training facility. Yeah, thats gonna be a whole lot more fun than orlando or la….NOT!

  2. The second tier firms are even worse. One week, I received an evaluation saying what a valuable resource I was to the Advisory Team, and I then spent 80 hours the rest of the week out of town holding the hand of one of the firm’s largest clients through their sox work. Got back home at 2am Friday night, and was dismissed on Monday morning with no notice and no explanation due to lack of sales in Advisory. Meanwhile, the firm dumps experienced people and continues to hire kids out of college. I really worry about the quality of work delivered at these firms under this formula.

  3. I work for E&Y advisory services (Technology/Security Risk). There has been no talk of layoffs in my area. In fact, we are looking to expand! It was mentioned in meeting that we may start interviewing some of the people laid-off by other firms.

  4. “There has been no talk of layoffs in my area.”

    there never is, until its too late.

    “In fact, we are looking to expand!”

    where have i heard that before? hell, where havent i heard that before?

  5. This is good to hear about EY. I worked with them recently on a client and was very impressed by both the partner and the professionals. Hopefully someone can salvage something from the mismanagement of others.

  6. I am also of the view that the firms are too top heavy. They have a much larger partner/manager base to support in a contracting business environment.

  7. I responded to one of your other comment writers on an earlier who claimed that EY had no layoffs.

    Some more details, since you asked. :)

    Most areas are doing well. Which is good news for the areas that weren’t doing well – they did relocations.

    The only thing that was bad, of course, was the situation of people who were offered relocations to the stronger areas but couldn’t. You feel worst for people in that position.

    This took place last year – since then they say the pipeline is doing its thing again.

    I have the feeling that at PWC and other places that are currently suffering they must’ve been waiting until that ‘breaking point’ at which point the partners’ earnings were going to look bad – the pipeline not doing its thing – and so they reacted with a huge jerky twist of the wheel.

  8. This is comment is for an old post but relevant. The market has gotten worse – obviously.

    Uncle P. advisory is continuing to look to make cuts, has instituted a hiring freeze of non-client facing people. Also, many (think 50% range) did not receive bonuses and raises were less than to keep pace with inflation. Think FORCED ATTRITION. If someone leaves because of poor comp it is easier than dirty layoffs.

    Bad times and the blood letting will continue…nothing in the pipeline but pink slips I fear…where is the culpability at the partner level to admit that they did not bring in the business they needed to?

  9. Dear Ms Mckenna,

    There have been lay-offs at EY as well and the reasons people are getting is “Head Count”. I know because there was a voicemail sent by one of the Partners at my office location. Curiously most of the people laid off were minorities at my location.

    No transfer opportunities were offered either and it’s unfortunate really unfortunate.

  10. To the poster above: which E&Y office is laying off and what is the service line? Thanks!

  11. E&Y tax service lines appear to be going quite strong, at least after Q1 FY '09.

    Rumor has it that slow-downs and corresponding head count reductions are only occurring in one or two sectors (big surprise – financial services and domestic manufacturing).

    Realignment into restructuring-related work (bankruptcy and other workouts) picking up…

  12. Heard from a friend at KPMG that was layed off yesterday

  13. Heard KPMG Dallas office laid off about 45 people..

  14. KPMG Boston is laying off, especially audit; they’ve hired a batch of newbies, and have bragged about how the office is moving to a bigger, newer office still under construction in 2010 but you’d really have to be delusional to not see the writing on the wall.

    I talk everyday with someone in IT and get the lowdown on who and how many layoffs.

  15. My co-worker just got lay-off by KPMG yesterday, Thursday, the 13th. (Not Friday the 13th, regardless, it was a sad day to her). But on the same day, KPMG had a big recruiting party at a local hotel for new college grads. Why did they get rid of experience people and hiring someone so inexperience?

  16. Dallas EY office also laid off yesterday.

  17. Interesting:

    Boston KPMG managing partner is not a happy camper; i’ve passed by him lately in the hallway and by his office and he looks like a man with some serious issues on his mind.

    He used to be a gregarious guy, now he’s always stone faced and white as a sheet.

  18. @ 12:18 am, how perfectly phrased. Some of the DT partners are just that — stone faced and white as a sheet at times. I bet they are scared to death themselves. How unfortunate that partners are just puppets, and a few jokers actually control these firms.

  19. Forced attrition for certain. Keep the employees around and don’t give them anything to do. Play with their minds and make them paranoid. Have lots of recruiters bombard them with calls. Maybe then they take the hint and leave. When market improves and you want to hire them back, tell them that they left due to their own paranoia. Same old game.

  20. Some of the functions within certain public accounting firm are actually using this opportunity to actively recruit the top talent. When workers see unjust things happen in their organization, it is much easier to convince them to leave, when they otherwise would not. This is the best time to dump people (blame economy) and upgrade your team. When economy rebounds, the practice is so much stronger and there is less need to pay top dollar to buy back the team.

  21. @1218….What is a matter with buddy boy!!!!???

    New digs in beantown in 2010 and the nice holiday party…c’mon everyone should be smiles – BIG SMILES….i don’t get it.

    Don’t choke on the sarcasm. Partners shouldn’t be acting that everything is hunky dorey – a dose of realism and setting down the blind optimism is what is needed. The issues facing them should be weighing on them. As it is all of us.

    Bourbon is a good friend at times like these! Just don’t make it too good of a friend.

  22. Good advice for the Big 4 people at this difficult time. Pass the CPA if you can (I know it seems so impossible while they asked you to work almost 24/7.) Once you have it, they would think about it twice before letting you go since there are many seniors don’t even have CPAs. But they have experience and you don’t.

    Increase your utilization; kiss someone’s “assets” if you have to in order to stay alive.
    Having too much unassigned time will kill you.. even you use it to study…remember what they say is not what they mean …

  23. I’m hearing about layoffs at kpmg in the Chicago office at the 1+ year level. How can they keep hiring new grads? Anyone be laid of or know someone that has in Chicago or elsewhere?

  24. Advisory is getting nailed this week. 100+ in NYC, same in Chicago.

    Nervous people in D-town due to Big 3 troubles.

    I hear another 500 nationwide are planned in Jan 2009.

  25. I can confirm that 1+ year was affected…

    Now this 500 nationwide thing, is this true or still a rumor?

  26. Yes. 1+year with low utilization and have not passed even one of the CPA exams are the 1st to go.

  27. KPMG Boston Town Hall Meeting has been cancelled which is unheard of; apparantly there will be some sort of phone or online hook up at an undisclosed date.

  28. KPMG Boston is not a very well run office. Morale is terrible and business is not good. Compared to other offices they do nothing to increase or boost morale – especially compared to other offices in the country. A very stodgy, stiff old school attitude that makes this place feel stale and behind the times.

    It will continue to feel the brunt of “adjustments” in the NE.

    Funny how the town hall is canceled but the holiday party is going forward.

  29. KPMG San Francisco & KPMG Silicon Valley offices laid off people 2 weeks ago as well. They laid off newly promoted seniors, some 2nd year associates, and some 2nd year seniors as well. And it's a bit surprise within the offices because the casualties were in the external audit practice and it happened right before the busy season.

    I just don't understand why the big 4 keep on laying off people who are competence while hiring a brunch of newbies.

  30. Anon @342…who gets paid less thus making profit margins higher. Don’t get caught up on the competence issue since that does not hold sway in these times. It’s dollars and sense (sic).

  31. Any laid off Big 4 care to share what severance packages were? For staff. Anyone care to be specific as to each firm?

  32. 4 weeks severance pay; BUT in one lump sum…sadly, tax was 40% (this is the fact)since they lump them…40% to the newly unemployed in this economy…nice

  33. @5:08..good to know or maybe NOT! 4 weeks? Which firm? That is some cheap crap! Is that based on any year of service scale?

    Bastards make you sweat blood for them and the f’ing billable hours and they send you off with 1 month? Amazing when their clients (i-banks) who are in far worse shape are giving 2-3 months, career services and health benefits. El cheapos!

  34. approx. 8 people laid off in advisory EY in PIttsburgh. No high performers were let go. Word of advice, if you’re good, you’ll stay. This is a high performing culture..sometimes house keeping must be done. These firms also love to bring in new hires that they can mold into potential all stars. Chances are if you were let go, you would not have had a bright future in Big 4 anyhow.

  35. Well, I was one of the “let go”s; you might sound m..n, but you said the truth…good advice…lost a job but not a lesson

  36. Anon @617…severance numbers?

    New hires are worthless for the first 6 months so “molding them” -thats like trying to polish a turd.

    Going to recruiting events is boring but fun since these kids think they are king shit and will be some high rolling BSD right as they join – then a box of documents slams them upside the head in a windowless conference room! The precipitous fall to the hard concrete of reality is very captivating.

    The term neophyte comes to mind.

  37. Ya well some of the new hires are just as good as those that were there for 2 years and let go…..just as reliable and a warm body to produce mediocre at best work with hand held guidance…

  38. Interesting, let go from KPMG in the first wave of lay offs in early October. One week of severance for one year of work.

  39. EY Southern California offices laid off 5% (tax) in the first round of layoff in November. Severance package one month. The second round seems to be coming…

  40. One week for one year @ KPMG?

    Ouch. You’d think at least 2 weeks as a minimum to give one last paycheck.

  41. No, 4 wks for 1 yr of work up to 23 wks

  42. I’m EY Tax (or was), canned 5 Dec. with zero warning. Just brought me in the conf room and told me to pack up. month severance plus unused vacation (since i worked like a dog i had all 3 weeks saved up so piss on them.) I had just been promoted to senior, i was told it was not performance related rather an “objective” criteria was used. It was not a decision made by the OMP, rather offices were sent fedexs from NY office with a list of who to cut.

  43. Questions to the people recently got lay off. Are you foreigners, visa holders, minorities, women, married women over 30? I heard they were the first to go. Is that true?

  44. Tim Flynn no longer CEO of KPMG US – staying on as Chairman and Int’l Chmn. Dep. Chairman now CEO.

    Host of new risk and prof. practice moves at the sr. exec level.

  45. Can anyone comment on total layoffs at EY? I don’t see any updates about support staff, only audit/consulting.

  46. I am a campus hired, going to work for KPMG. These comments above makes me worry..

  47. EY transaction support cut approx. 10% of headcount (all levels) in November and we were told to be prepared for additional layoffs in Jan. EVERYONE is looking over their shoulder and looking to get out…but where to in this environment.

  48. These comments make me worry about my future at KPMG. Can anyone in Audit at KPMG Chicago confirm that they are letting people go and why?

  49. I was let go last year , the only one on the East Coast with experience in my industry. Is it any wonder that the Big Four were lobbying Congress for limits to their liability for incompetant work?
    Ater the dust clears, the wave of lawsuits will start. I have heard of only one firm (PwC), that warned of a problem in completing their audit of a financial services firm.

  50. The beginning of 2009 will be very interesting for all of the Big Four. I have been at KPMG for over a decade and I have never seen things this bad. From my conversations with some of the Partners/Managers no one else has either – including some with over 30 years at the firm.

    All service lines, Advisory, Audit, and Tax are WAY below their already “soft” Plan numbers with the backlog of new work shrinking at pace we have never seen before. Many companies are scaling back projects or just cutting projects outright. It seems like every other day, some company is calling to cancel or reduce the size of the original project.

    In addition, to the shrinking amount of work – is the issue of companies owing KPMG millions and filing for bankruptcy. True we may see this money some day, but this must be creating a cash crunch with money not flowing in as planned.

    As for the terminations, I know that the first wave was primarily “counseling out” then there was an outright layoff, a second much more stringent “counseling out” where some pretty good people were cut and most recently the group I work with told ALL college hires that their services would not be needed. Both the (winter) and (summer) college hires had their offers rescinded. I cannot remember a time when this occurred in the past.

    Now it seems like I am tracking down “missing” employees, who have been laid off but the engagement teams were not notified. This has most recently (January 2009) included some Partners and Managers, so the cuts are getting deeper. I am sure things will turn around, but the next year or so will be a “rough road.”

  51. EY just laid off people today at all levels, including administrative assistance.

  52. I was with KPMG almost 5 yrs. I received 1 week severance for each year. I was denied credit for the fifth week because I had not COMPLETED the fifth year.

  53. So sorry to hear that. Are you a CPA? I heard KPMG is letting whoever without a CPA go. I am not a CPA…:((

  54. I am feeling that layoff may come after April.

  55. KPMG is moving into layoff stage. It is really sad that a firm that thrives on professionalism and integrety suddenly tells their solid workers that they are not performing and are being place on final 60 notice without any prior warning of issues. The least they could do is be professional, and not kick the people down as they are being laid off.

  56. Are there any layoffs in KPMG’s midwest office yet (OH,KY,IN)? Thanks for updating!

  57. Are there any layoffs in KPMG midwest office yet (OH, KY, IN). I am in audit, and considering transfering there. thanks for updating!

  58. I will be interning (tax) at PWC this summer. Should I be concerned that my offer will be rescinded?

  59. I wonder why the partners and powers that be aren’t aware of this and making the necessary adjustments. It is well known that historically the Big 4 typically has heavy turnover after 3-4 years, but given the current job environment (no one hiring) one would think the turnover would decrease. That is why the Big 4 are top heavy, the senior class that would typically go into industry, are sticking around because of the “Job Security”. Now if the employees can adjust and stick it out, why can’t management adjust? Instead of highering new people, further develop your current employees and stop pissing them off to force them to leave. We are all aware of the current environment, and would much rather little to no raise, in exchange for job security. But the Partners are stuck on historic behavior, which is not a good indicator given the new work force.

  60. Bruce Pfau, OMP of KPMG Montvale, announced during the town hall meeting (Feb 5&6) that there will be layoffs in the next few weeks. He did not specify the percentage of cut but according to reliable sources, it will be significant. It was sickening to hear this especially if you know there is no jobs out there. I worst thing is the waiting game…God help us!

  61. Anon@2:02 did he specify if this was a firmwide undertaking or just Montvale, NE area, CSS only?

    Pfau is not only OMP of Montvale but the head of HR for the entire firm so this would be a very bold statement for someone in his position to make and not communicate it firmwide.

    I suppose we’ll see…the next few months are going to be rough for Uncle Pete and his disciples.

  62. I got laid off by EY last week…am on F1 and just joined the firm last month…they decided to terminate my contract in less than a month claiming that my performance wasn’t good enough

    sure it wasn’t considering that I never received any training whatsoever…my colleague was an absolute disgrace and not to mention the fact that they won’t find a better person to terminate considering my current circumstances (visa status, new recruit, economic crisis, etc)

    In a lot of ways I’m glad that I don’t have to work my socks off everyday…but I do realize that finding another job in this economy is like swimming in an endless ocean looking for some land

    oh and then there’s the OPT/F1 requirements…what joy!

  63. Oh, no more Anonymous anymore. I like the old one better

  64. I work for Deloitte in SE. DT has been doing layoffs here an there…a few people this week, a few people next week so as not to make a big scene and have to notify the state. It is happening at all the offices. I am a Sr. Mgr and have heard of big layoffs coming in March after busy season. There are partners that are being talked to as well.

    There is no trusting of these firms….

  65. I think the issue is the firms are obligated under the WARN act if they lay off more than 50 employees at one location within a 30 day period

    By staggering lay off dates they avoid the WARN act- the way this is done ensures that the law is followed, but the spirit of the law is not followed other companies appear to file if they lay off less than 50 people.

    HEre is a link to the website for california- at the moment none of the big 4 are listed- again it is standard practise to staggar lay offs, do it on a rolling basis to avoid filing and giving your people a heads up

    http://www.edd.ca.gov/Jobs_and_Training/Layoff_Services_WARN.htm

  66. How are the Big 4 handling the situation when recently layed off employees file for unemployment insurance? Are they saying they were fired for cause so they don’t have their unemployment taxes go up? Or are they being honest so that the newly unemployed does not get denied their unemployment benefits? I would particularly appreciate answers pertaining to California.

  67. Read this news about increased number of openings for internships at Deloitte, PwC, and KPMG:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2009/02/22/2009-02-22_they_want_you_to_be_their_intern-2.html

    Wonder if this is indeed true?

  68. @1:20 am — the postings are likely true. With the massive amounts of Big 4 layoffs and the negative publicity, the Big 4 are simply trying to protect their pipeline — the cheap labor from the schools. Otherwise, the students may flock to in-house positions. It is the classic strategy of managing their reputation and public image. What do they have to lose? Even if they offer the students weeks of summer internships, they have no committment to makeoffers. Even if they made offers, it would be another year or two before the students graduate and join. At that point, the Big 4 still have the option of rescinding the offers, if the economy is still in the tank. By doing this, they protect their image and have little to lose. Oh, they can also continue to claim that the layoffs are due to performance issues at the staff level, rather than at the partner level. Somebody is getting paid big bucks to come up with these stragegies.

  69. I just got laid off from KPMG in Montvale. Apparantly Loyalty and Hard Work are not appreciated.

  70. @ 68, yeah I hear McKinsey is getting paid the big bucks

  71. KPMG San Francisco — Layoffs at the CSS level (admin, IT, scheduling, etc). Don’t know if there will be a round #2 and if it will hit CSS again.

  72. Big time layoffs @ KPMG firmwide. Across all levels and all practices planned for the entire month of march. Good luck all. It’s gonna be a rough one.

  73. just got laid off. after only few months of starting. said performance was the issue. although i was fairly good. beware

  74. I am terribly worried about our future in KPMG after the tax season. Does anyone know if it is typical for KPMG to pay severance? The only worst thing that could possibly happen is to be laid off with out severance.

  75. kpmg audit, which office are you in and are you a first year? when did they tell you and when is your last day?

  76. heard this hot off the press….massive layoffs coming in at top heavy Deloitte in the next few weeks…everyone be prepared…diversity, minorities and other such folks are said to be easy targets…and while those who just finished their busy season, thank you for all your efforts…chopping block, butchering..call it what you will…

  77. @66 I was laid off from Deloitte in California in Dec., and was told by HR that if I filed for unemployment they would not challenge the filing with the unemployment office. They also provided me the filing form. I found a new job and never filed.

  78. I have heard rumors that another round of cuts will be coming for Deloitte in the Northeast – especially now that the busy season has ended.

  79. In this month’s CFO Magazine, in an article about the fact that it is currently a buyer’s market for finance talent:

    Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte, says his company has no plans to change its recent course, which includes aggressive recruitment and training and an emphasis on “mass career customization,” or allowing employees to shape their careers in ways that match their individual aspirations. “I’ve heard that in the current economy companies are putting the talent agenda on the back burner,” he says, “and I can understand why. But I think it will continue to be difficult to find finance talent.” One factor at work, he says, is an anticipated decline in the number of accounting majors.

    Hypocrisy, anyone? [I am a Deloitte alum who could see during my tenure that the people running the company had a screwy business model, so I did my time and got out.]

  80. I heard the same news that deloittle will laid off people in next week. Some tax people were letting go today. After all the long hours hard work, we will be dumped like trash.

  81. Last week EY made some cuts in the Milwaukee office to people rated fairly highly (meets or exceeds expectations) – seniors 1-3 WITH CPAS! Mark my words, after busy season–there will be cuts by all firms over all service lines. It’s coming and you will probably be surprised that many of the good/very good performers are let go.

  82. Heard that Deloitte is coming up with Lay offs this week or next. This time the numbers are expected to be huge and all accross US. This appears to be injustice to some. I had some staff who were laid off during the last round in 2008 and the reason given to them was not satisfactory (performance based), whereas they were performing decent work. Why cant they do a slight pay cut for all (specially people on top who manages the show) and keep others employed. People serve all through the busy season with loades of extra hours showing their commitment to get such a reward. This apparently appears to be a bit mean for one’w who are thrown out to survive on their own in this crisis.
    Hope times changes sooner so that all have a better life.

  83. Wait until end March when the busy reporting season is fully over. Then the big 4s will join together and create a mass-murder movie.
    Blood will flow in the streets.

  84. The Layoffs are coming.

    In New York, the consensus rumor day is Monday, March 9. Apprently all layoffs need to be completed by March 15 as that is the close of one of the reporting periods and they want to reflect all of the bloodshed. The numbers I have heard are in the region of 10% of AERS (Audit and Enterprise Risk Services). All levels. The larger engagements have already identified their “mission critical” people, all others are fair game. The lists have already been finalized and picked over by general counsel. They are just biding their time.

  85. Sonu, I disagree with your solution. Paying everyone less keeps more people, but it creates a disincentive for hard workers who deserve to be paid more. If your firm can’t support as many employees as it could before, then fire some of them. If you lower everyone’s wage across the board, everyone will simultaneously begin looking for work elsewhere (even though there admittedly isn’t much now, leaving public for private always pays more). No one thinks they’re the one that was going to be cut, everyone thinks he or she is the top performer that is indispensible.

    Socialism doesn’t work for countries, and it doesn’t work for businesses. Downsize to match the economy, and you’ll bounce back faster than everyone else who clung to their increasingly disgruntled and underpaid employees.

  86. Lists have already been sent to HR for review (two weeks ago in my office on the west coast). Those cut will need to be off the books by the end of March. The notifications were expected this week but there’s been a delay of a week or so. Rumor has it to be 3/13. But nobody knows, not even the partners.

    In terms of severance, for managers it is the greater of one month or one week per year of service (expected but not final, per a partner). I don’t know about senior managers but a couple I know think it’s 2 months. I also don’t know about staff but those cut last spring got 1 month. Plus you will be paid for whatever unused PTO hours you have.

    Employees termed are eligible for unemployment. In CA you have to report your severance and paid out PTO to EDD but it will not affect your unemployment amount which will be around $450 a week (max) for most in CA provided you’ve been employed for a few quarters. I don’t know if this amount already includes the $25 a week addition from the Federal stimulus bill. I don’t think it does. For CA you can find a chart for the weekly unemployment benefit amount here: http://www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de1275a.pdf

    This cut will be hard. All the easy cuts were made last Spring and November. There are no under performers left. Hope your pipeline is full.

  87. KMPG Left Coast – how interesting that KPMG also uses the term “PTO,” paid time out, to signify vacation. Uncle D uses the same term. Coincidence, or are you one of Salzberg’s crownies? Someone else from KPMG please confirm.

  88. Audit new hire here for Big 4 firm. We just got our start date and were pushed way back. They’re giving us a few weeks of training and then thrusting us into busy season. Anyone have a good idea what to do with the 6 months I’ll be jobless from after I graduate until I start?

  89. @12:44 In this environment, don’t count on ever starting. Will probably be pushed back again at least once. How about looking for another job during your gap period? Or take a look at this post. Ideas equally valid for both those of you facing these start “delays” and those recently cut. http://retheauditors.com/2008/10/hmmmm-do-you-find-yourself-suddenly-with-a-lot-of-free-time/

  90. Big 4 New Hire – Start your CPA exam if you haven’t. Otherwise you should go on vacation and relax before you start the job.

  91. For college hires reading this, GET YOUR CPA NOW. these are the first people to be cut. it won’t matter what wunderkind you are work wise, if you don’t have your CPA you’re as useful as the next college hire right off the boat. At this point talent is expendable. EY is pushing right now for everyone to get their reviews in. Obviously they want to start ranking the flock before culling it. Partner’s need that K-1 and the two ways to do that are collect cash and cut costs. expect audit types to be canned shortly as the big 4 year ends start coming up. Collection is getting tougher as clients hate to part with cash. a lot of projects are being “kicked off” only for the client to get the skinny on what provider wants to do, then bringing that idea in house to save costs. Also i would be surprised if minorities are cut, by retaining them all big 4 can tout their diveristy percentages even moreso. If you feel you might be in danger of being axed seek out the sr mgr/ptr in your office who’s got the contacts. For tax, stay away from the compliance people as they can’t help you at all. Find those on the consulting side (FAS 109, FIN 48, Tax Risk Assesments, IFRS, etc.), they know more people and can find you a job in a hurry. I landed at a regional firm in less than a week from being let go, and it’s nice. More pay, more PTO, FAR less neurotics and idiotic procedures/politics, and no one here worries about losing their job.

  92. I’ve begun hearing the layoff rumors in my Big 4 office this week. It seems the next round of cuts will be pretty deep.

  93. As an ex Senior Manager who was chopped in a previous round, the last rounds were certainly not all performance based. My evals were consistency 2/3 ratings and I confirmed in the exit interview with the partner / HR that performance was not an issue. Their exact words were that my position had been terminated…..so no-one should really think they are safe I fear. I heard from a partner that plans were already being made for the next round after this in June too…..

  94. Former Deloitter – they tell you that it is not performance based. They tell their clients and your former colleagues it was performance based. They say whatever they want when the situation suits them and cannot be held accountable because they are in charge.

  95. “Big 4 New Hire – Start your CPA exam if you haven’t. Otherwise you should go on vacation and relax before you start the job.”

    Exactly what my recruiter said….The CPA is obvious…but a vacation? I don’t know about that one. Sounds like “Don’t worry, everything here is fine…why what have you heard?”

  96. @95: Agreed completely. Last thing I want to do is spend money traveling when I may very well be out of a job before I even begin. Time to reign in as much as possible and go on the cheap.

  97. Any word on PwC west coast?

  98. Any word on PwC tax west coast?

  99. I am another Big 4 new hire who was informed that my start date has been pushed back several months. Seems like this is an across the board thing they are doing. I almost feel as if its too risky to sit around and wait to see if the job is still there by the time the new start date rolls around….should I start looking for a new job or wait it out?

  100. @99 I got laid off in less than a month of working (am/was a new graduate as well)…I’d suggest look for another job

  101. If you are rated a 2/3 and get let go, then you have most likely been let go for performance issues.
    If you are rated a 3 and get let go, you arent haveing performance issues but you arent outpacing the curve either.
    If you are rated a 4 and get let go, then the firm has lost some clients and cannot continue to employ as many people as before
    If you are rated a 5 and get let fo, then you shouldnt feel bad the firm is probably closing.

    You can say partners are greedy, you can say charge rates are outrageous, and in some cases you would be correct. There isnt a reason to lower bill rates to keep 2/3’s in the office when client demand shrinks and the world of public accounting is cut throat. the most skilled survive in most cases, Many firms have some slack in uppermanagement as a result of the SOX influx and pushing people through the ranks the past 6-8years who probably shouldnt have been and also lowering hiring standards to fill new hire class sizes. Firms turned a blind eye to recruiting, focus on staffing projections, and economics because the economy was booming.

  102. Big 4 Realist,

    There is a lot of truth in what you say, but the unspoken assumption is that the ratings were accurate in the first place. As I’ve posted elsewhere, my experience is that ratings are heavily influenced by (a) partner relationships, (b) utilization, and (c) looks/demeanor. There is also the issue of whether relative ranking by staff level is inherently fair — my experience is (for example) that first year seniors are matched against 3rd & 4th year seniors in the ranking process. Surprise! The first years, as a general rule, don’t fare as well, meaning that they get the 2/3 while more experienced (and incidentally higher-paid) seniors survive the cut.

    I agree that if the firm is suffering and folks have to be let go, then ratings plus near-term pipeline/utilization forecast is not a bad way to select the victims. On the other hand, think of the sunk investment in those victims. I would want to make dang sure that the RIF was absolutly necessary. Since revenues are inextricably tied to headcount, every revenue-generating person laid-off is lost future revenue. Which means that even somebody who’s 50% utilized is probably a break-even and anybody with a near term forecast higher than that is lost profit for current & future partners.

    If the real driver for layoffs is cost-cutting solely to protect partner income, and the partners are willing to sacrifice future firm revenues in order to maximize their take-home today, then shame on them.

  103. PWC wants everyone to have their time booked for the next two weeks in Retain by Sunday so they can do a “special report” of some kind regarding “staffing and deployment needs.”

    They’re supposed to pay my CPA bonus out on the 15th. I’m a first year but have had a hard time finding chargeable work, even during busy season. If/when they do layoff, I expect to be one of the casualties even though I’ve passed the exam. So long as I get the CPA bonus, don’t really care what happens–I’m hoping to hear about another job this week.

    Thankfully, I live in CA so they will be hard pressed to avoid paying out unemployment even if they claim it was performance. I’ve been saving e-mails, etc. for a while now anticipating something like this in case they do try to fight an unemployment claim. Would suggest that others who think they might be in danger start doing the same—make copies of anything from them regarding performance, even if it’s just a spreadsheet showing your utilization, compliance with other metrics, etc. Last week I got an e-mail from a director about my performance on one engagement, but it was the first real feedback I’d gotten about anything.

    To be honest, I was planning on leaving when my first year was up anyway, or when I got another job. For me, the Big 4 was a Big Mistake.

  104. @taxnewbie Very good advice. Save everything. Print it now. Once you hand in your laptop you can’t get to all those electronic, internal systems like Payroll stubs, hr and performance stats. Print emails and other info about CPA bonuses, etc. Don’t let them take back signing bonuses if they cut you for anything other than you stealing from the company. it’s not your fault. It’s theirs.

    @Tenacious T
    Thanks for reminding me of some other posts that will help folks get their arms around the illusion of performance ratings and crime of forced ranking. Go here for that and other links to posts about the process.
    http://retheauditors.com/2008/09/anatomy-of-a-big-4-reduction-in-force/

  105. When a firm is about to implode, what kind of individuals do the partners cut first? The underperformers or those they view as the biggest threat to their own job security. Get rid of the threats first and then, toss out all the underperforming ass kissers. Have you already seen the firms target the senior managers and directors?

    If you suspect that you will be laid off, you should print out everything. If possible, make an image of your computer. Once they confiscate your computer, you will have no proof of the abuse. It is your word against theirs, and they will say anything to protect their partner capital. Do not sign anything that will limit your legal rights.

    An average partner has a minimum of 300K in equity with a firm. If they leave or are forced out, the firm can keep their capital for 1 year (or longer) against future claims. The partner is also subject to strict noncompete provisions that prevents them from going to another firm or consult on their own. In this economy, these partners are powerless puppets. To keep their jobs, they are forced to do things that they would not otherwise do. How many partners do you know that have full time working spouses with benefits? Everyone should watch their back. There is no longer rhymn or reason to the layoffs. A bunch of desperate people are just making irrational decisions.

    If you are still employed, ask yourself how long you have been on the beach and those around you. Have the partners told you that there are projects in the pipeline but you don’t see anything? Have your co-workers stopped pretending to be busy? Question everything you are told and watch your backs.

  106. Big 4 Realist – the Deloitte ratings are 1= best and 5= worst – so your scale is upside down. The 2/3 I mentioned is: 2 = exceeding expectations and 3 = meeting expectations.

  107. Any updates from the European area?

  108. Yea, there has been alot of talk of layoffs in my office that may occur this week or, perhaps, next month. We’ve been losing alot of summer work (benefit plans) to smaller firms. Also, I couldn’t tell you of any managers that have left in the last six months. There is also significant salary compression at the senior and manager level, where first and second year seniors may only be earning about a few thousand more than first years. No more double-in-five for managers. Also there are big cuts in both internships and first-year hiring coming for the next few years. Low turnover means there’s a ton of unassigned people/hours in my office. Even as an SP+, I feel my job may be in jeopardy due to my average (only average) utilization rate.

    Perhaps it’s time for some partners and managers to be forced out as well? I don’t know, but it’s also nice not working 60-70 hour weeks including all the time I’ve eaten over the years. Guess it’s not good for the bottom line. I guess if you can survive you’d be pretty good off. If not, milk that unemployment you’ve been paying into for 8-10 years and get a nice cash job. Can I deliver pizzas with a CPA?

  109. KPMG_audit, you are funny. What does “SP+” mean? Also, please check out post 86 (one of your supposed colleagues) and confirm whether KPMG uses the term “PTO” for vacation. Me think post 86 is an impostor.

  110. @109 (anon)

    I guess looking at the D&T ratings (1-5, 1 being very good, 5 being very bad), KPMG has EP (exceptional performer), SP (strong performer) and NI (needs improvement). EP would be a D&T “1”, NI would be a D&T “5”. SP is in the middle. So I guess my D&T rating would be a 2 or 2-3.

    I’ve never used the term “PTO” (Personal Time Off? Paid Time Off?)). I’ve always just used the term “personal days”, but I’ve heard the term “PTO” at other firms. Could also be a cultural thing in his office.

    We’ll see if anything happens in my office. We have several 3/31’s, so our office might be hit later next month.

  111. Any news on layoffs in KPMG Advisory Chicago? there is a lot of chatter in the office. its seems likes utilization is dropping to 10-20% in some practices…

  112. kpmgCHI, I don’t know about Chicago but advisory layoffs are being announced to those affected this week in my office on the west coast.

    Anonymous with the interest in PTO, I don’t think KPMG uses the term “PTO” in any official capacity but my clients do so I’m sure that’s where I picked it up. Or maybe I’ve just been hanging out with too many DT people. TIMEnX (KPMG’s time keeping system) refers to vacation as non-charge personal time. It’s referred to as “personal days hrs” on our paycheck stubs.

  113. I work for KPMG in Audit in DC. PTO is used heavily here, I believe it’s on the HR website. When I email Resource Management to schedule days off, I call it PTO. So #86 indeed works for KPMG. Further, there are only so many ways you can parse this concept: days off, time off, paid time off, personal time, blah blah. But at KPMG for me, it’s PTO.

  114. Another point worth mentioning is the effect the layoffs will have on partner retirement funding. Some firms have fully funded partner retirement plans. For example, I believe EY used its CapGemini sale revenue to fully fund partner retirement plans. Other firms, including PwC I believe, do not have fully funded plans. Not sure about KPMG and D&T, let alone the mid-tiers. For those firms that don’t have fully funded plans, they are pretty much like the Social Security Administration, a pyramid scheme by which current and future retirement needs are covered by current partner contributions. But when you reduce incoming partners year after year, you are left with either asking each partner to fund more, or cutting back on benefits. In other words, laying off people today plus limiting the number of new partners admitted to the partnership, equals future financial hardship to the partnership.

    — Tenaciouis T.

  115. http://www.sequence-inc.com/fraudfiles/2008/07/22/deloitte-touche-its-good-to-be-partner/

  116. It’s quiet, too quiet.

  117. I heard there will be huge layoffs at KPMG today……

  118. It’s been confirmed that there was another round of layoffs at the KPMG offices today. The # of individuals affected is not known but is considered significant according to sources…..

  119. @17…correct. Announcements have started to flow within practice groups. “Significant reduction in force.” Firmwide. Unsure of numbers but it will be going down throughout the week and it’s going to suck.

    Make sure you don’t step in the bullshit.

  120. Calm before the storm, nothing has happened yet….

  121. No news where I’m at yet. The 2-week booking report allegedly is being used to determine associates who still need work. A good number of people aren’t actually “booked” for 40 hours a week, including some people that I would consider top performers, so hopefully it means nothing–at least right now. I still expect some major change/action to occur sometime during the next month, though. This is not my first job [just my first accounting job] and the atmosphere is very similar to jobs I’ve had in the past which had major cuts.

  122. KPMG just let dozens of people go throughout California and Arizona. It was an aggressive cut, and will mean long work hours for whoever remains. Not to mention, nobody wants to stick around and risk staying with the firm when cuts are going on. I’ve seen several people printing out resume’s on the office printers. And those people weren’t even cut.

  123. KPMG is making deep cuts this time to avoid having to do any further cuts in the future – however, it was communicated that this is not guaranteed (that there will be no future cuts). The expectation is that this RIF is deep enough to allow the firm to get through the recession instead of having to continually let people go over the next 6-12 months.

    Tax newbie – you better hope you have full time in eStars (does tax use that?) or you find yourself in a new line of employment – the unemployment line.

    #122..it was not just CA and AZ – it is nationwide. #120 – what calm? People are getting shit canned. The butcher bill will be long at the end of this week.

  124. Really glad I didn’t pass the first round interview with KPMG way back when!

    Nope, don’t know what eStars is….guessing it’s “talent management” software. If they go by the software I’d say almost all first-years would be laid off, because according to the software most of us are booked for less than 40 hrs a week, we just make up the difference in client work that we find on our own. The system screws over most new hires because we usually have to scramble to find work on our own [with very little help from HR], and a lot of the time we don’t know what we’re going to be working on from week to week, or even day to day.

    So long as it doesn’t happen before I get my exam bonus at the end of the week, I’m okay with it. The whole thing has a waste of time, energy, and money [with the higher cost of living compared to where I lived before this, I’m actually paying money to work here.]

  125. TAXNEWBIE – sounds like we are in the same office in PwC. I was curous about the retain update as well. It feels like something is going to happen yet EVERYONE I talk to who could know seems to think we will not have any cuts. I know they are counselling out 4’s and closet 4’s. I’m sure year end review is going to be a beast this year, that is if we all make it to then. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  126. Anyone know if there were any KPMG Texas cutts today or is that something we have to look forward to?

  127. Unless you really read the management e-mails closely, it seems like they still don’t plan for cuts, but they’ve definitely changed the wording over the last month or so. I think a lot of people just aren’t used to having to interpret that kind of thing and don’t notice it. I had not heard of anyone being counseled out, but I guess it’s like living under a dictatorship—people disappear!

    I overheard a director talking to my office mate who is a pretty good performer, and he asked if he needed work, because he was booked for less than 40 hours. Apparently the managers and directors got the results of the retain report already and they’re using it to show who is still underutilized at this point. So for the moment, it seems like it’s not being used to determine who should stay and who shouldn’t….of course, it *seems* that way. And they still might use it later.

    I am really dreading doing my reviews…but I’m really doubting if they’re even going to bother with it in my case.

  128. Question is will Francine seek comment from the firms? Other companies of similar size and stature make these sizeable cuts and make public announcements (that includes private companies). Will the Big 4?

  129. Yeah, reviews for first years aren’t tough at all as long as you havent gotten any ‘needs immediate improvement’ on PFF’s. If you have I’d try to resolve it or look elsewhere. I just would rather them tell us that cuts are coming instead of pretending everything is great and conducting stealth layoffs. It just makes the environment so bad.

  130. Seriously F’d – could the environment get much worse….

    i suppose it could.

  131. @126: Yes, I can confirm at least two KPMG Texas cuts today, one being my wife. This was after KPMG laid me off last summer (different group).

    Get out now if you can. High utilization and good performance reviews are no guarantee. No one is safe, logic has no influence.

  132. @131: So sorry to hear that, at last the waiting game for you is over. Did she get a severance package?

  133. @131, sorry to hear about your wife. Which function was she serving? Audit, tax, etc.?

  134. Advisory. Severance is the standard dictated by HR policy (one week for each year of service, minimum four weeks). They also gave her two weeks advance notice, which seems pretty standard (I got the same last summer).

    I just looked at the paperwork they gave her and no big surprises. Apparently they have done this enough now that they have a FAQ list they distribute along with your termination letter.

  135. EY and PwC had the market on audit work. It makes sense that their employees would fare better. Not only did Deloitte have a dearth of audit clients, many of them went under or became clients of other firms. Result = major layoffs at Deloitte and now, KPMG.

  136. Having practiced in a large market for several years, with many friends embedded within the Big 4, it’s no surprise that each firm is laying off audit employees. As for EY and PwC having the market on audit clients – that information is inaccurate. DT may have lost several clients, i.e. Bear Sterns, WaMu & Merrill, but these clients were becoming far too risky even with their high fees. DT’s global audit revenue is 2nd only to PwC and won’t decrease to 3rd or 4th after the year. DT’s name has been mentioned so often because they have always had too many employees and this is a prime market for them to cut the reserves and reposition themselves according to their revenue.

  137. @136: did Tom Flanagan tell you to say that? How did DT get too many employees? My group actually heard a partner claim that it was due to a lack of attribution. The partners over hired for years.

    Interesting how DT came to the conclusion that these clients were high risk AFTER the melt down of the financial market. Before the melt down, the clients were NOT high risk? You deal with high risk by stepping up the audit procedures and charging the client for your work. PwC must be laughing all the way to the bank.

  138. Has anyone heard anything about KPMG NY layoffs?

  139. Has anyone heard anything about KPMG Dallas layoffs?

  140. KPMG is swinging a BIG axe all this week. No office will be untouched (except maybe Billings, MT…).

  141. “Pure Panic”‘s analysis on Partner income/Exit opps is right on point! Remember some of these guys are just Accounting nerds who have come into money…….their “trophy wives” will will dump them quick if the money runs out…their chances of working at Mcdonalds are much higher than the junior staff

  142. It is sheer carnage at KMPG. HUGE cuts are racing across the firm. NYO is being brutalized, think end of Godfather. Think beginning of Saving Private Ryan. Corpses.

    Estimates are 5-10% firmwide. Advisory is getting beaten like a rented mule.

  143. Laid off from KPMG advisory yesterday. Had great reviews, solid utilization, just finished my busy season and had engagements lined up for this month and next. Was told 500 are being cut in this round, plus 100 partners.

  144. More than 500…maybe just in your practice. Which practice were you in?
    I’ve been told double that if not 3x by end of month.

  145. Seems that KPMG is not the only firm to be seeing big cuts. DT has had rumors flying for months about cuts and they all appear to be indicating that they are coming this week. Everyone is just waiting now to see when they start. Rumors are as high as 20% across Audit and ERS, but 10% seems to be the more solid and realistic number. For those of us in the advisory market who are swamped and screaming for help, this is not the news we were looking for.

    Additionally, client service hours and total hours are expected to go up by a few hundred next year. Thus for staff it would be around 1900 CS hrs, ~2000 for SR’s, ~ 1700 for managers and ~1400 for Sr Managers, all the while total hours is expected to be 2600….if we survive the cuts, we might be eating ourselves next year.

  146. Wonder if the WARN act applies in some of these offices with large numbers of layoffs?

    It is sadly amusing to note that I detected the change in tone regarding my firm’s “People Strategy” right after they announced that revenues would be down for this year.

  147. I wish KPMG would just get it over with instead of taking all week…

  148. Advisory is getting hit really hard. A partner mentioned to me that it’s at least a 15% reduction nationwide, with some offices being hit with reductions as high as 50%.

    People are bailing out of here so fast – it’s not even funny. Everyone who is left is getting ready to eject out of this mess. Nobody wants to stick around working 16 hour days with no potential for raises or bonuses.

  149. Taxnewbie – I think the warn act applies after layoffs of 50 or more people at the same time. Hence the rolling ‘stealth layoffs’ we seem to be having. I have talked to many people in this office at several different levels and have only heard that there will NOT be mass layoffs. Which is, ironically, usually what they say right before mass layoffs. I just hope they look at the total picture and not just base it on one aspect (whether that be reviews or metrics or CPA). I kind of agree with #47, If P-dub is going to cut tax I wish they would just get it over with already.

  150. Why is KPMG having so many layoffs? I had always heard they were a good sound company?

  151. There is no business at KPMG….projects are completely drying up. They did not cut enough in late 2008 – many in the firm thought the economy would turn around by now – they completely misforecasted, misplanned and miscalculated. At Advisory U this summer there was talk of doubling revenue in some practices by 2010! That is how blindly optimistic leadership was as late as August – the complete destruction in the markets since then should show them how bad they are at coming up with those numbers.

    KPMG is sound but adjustments had to be made for it to be a profitable business. It would’ve been foolish business to keep all these people just sitting around surfing the internet – the sad fact is there is just no work to sustain the level of professionals that are with the firm.

    Plus several major clients have vanished wish hurts big time. AIG was a huge advisory client (they still may be but not at the level people probably expected), CFC made sweet love to BofA, Wachovia was bought by WFC though both are audit clients it does not equal double fees…the big thing is that any discretionary project is being shelved or caput and any available projects are subject to fierce bidding and extremely intensive fee pressure. So even if utilization improves margins do not.

    It’s going to be an ugly nasty ride this year. As Winston Churchill said though, NEVER GIVE UP!

  152. Ouch, I bet you guys are all wishing you listened to your parents and went to Med school, (I’m ONLY talking to all the Asian/ foreign people ). The corporate world is disgusting and full of greed/ego maniacs, very nasty individuals who only realize they wasted their life/treated others like crap, when they’re taking those last few breaths before death.

    The Big 4 firms are garbage, they just like to project a certain image among naive students, but all that changes once the work starts. Don’t ever be fooled by all those fancy dinners, or that summer internship.

    Accounting itself is a pretty stupid profession IMO . Mostly useless rules made by accountants so they have work to do, and it still does very little to control the corruption and fraud.

  153. @ 147 I agree wholeheartedly. The suspense just makes it worse.

  154. @151, the thing is (as I’ve posted before) the firms are notoriously bad at planning. Some of it, I’m sure, comes from the fact that partners of specialty practices (i.e., those that are not “core” service offerings) HAVE to show stupidly optimistic numbers to get approval to hire, develop, and otherwise grow their practices. It’s stupid but it’s real. The business case hurdles are so high that telling the truth becomes impossible.

    I remember when I started at [Big 4 firm] and the Office Managing Partner wanted me to commit to $9 million in revenue in 2 years, despite the fact that I had no staff and no pipeline. I suppose it was a career-limiting move when I told her that goal was a crack-smoker’s fantasy. Or words to that effect. I ended up doing $800,000 my first year and feeling pretty good about that. I doubled that number in year 2, but those growth numbers were insufficient to keep leadership happy. I started looking for a new job in year 3, even though I had a very nice pipline by that time. (Still no dedicated staff, though.)

    My point is that, while I agree with you that planning & forecasts are largely works of (poorly written) fiction, there’s a root cause, and it often has little to do with what the partner really thinks will happen. The ability to sincerely defend the fantasies of firm leadership is an important attribute in determining who makes the partnership and who does not.

    — Tenacious T.

  155. FYI – D&T Boston office seems to have started laying off people. My friend, a senior consultant, was just terminated. I spoke with another colleague who indicated more lay offs are coming down the road.

    It is interesting though – this person who was just terminated was a strong performer. Definitely more than proficient from a technical standpoint. And the individual has some certifications as well. I on the other hand gave my notice to the firm a few months back and found another opportunity in the industry. I was consistently rated a 2 or 3 but was getting burnt out and was beginning to hate the job. Decided my sanity was more important. When I told my partner, I was leaving he offered me the opportunity to talk through my problems to see if I wanted to come back to the firm. I thought they would be more than happy that I decided to leave on my own (no severance pay out). From a technical standpoint my colleague was more experienced but she was terminated… The other variable here is personality.

  156. @ 155, sorry to hear about your friend. Was she in the advisory or consulting group?

    It would be great if posters would indicate their line of service.

  157. @ 156 – In ERS. My friend had a 2 for the year end rating.

  158. Interesting to see there are very few posts here regarding E&Y or PWC layoffs. Of course that’s not to imply they are free of any problems. Anyone heard anything on E&Y and PWC regarding headcount adjustments?

  159. If someone posts that they’ve “heard” layoffs or “seems to be” please cite your source. (e.g. today in 2WFC, I saw three people packing up) I work in DT NYC and since the second week of January have not gotten a single email from anyone I’ve known that’s been laid off and am also unaware of any (from staffing calls etc), and I’m in AERS. I think the majority of these posts are ex Big Four folks who got canned in the past and are merely spewing rumors about this week and that. Unless you currently work for a Big Four, your insights aren’t helpful or wanted. I’d sum them as empty ranting. And distracting for those of us still here trying to figure out what’s really going on.

  160. Curious – DT…think about what you are asking, “cite your source”…are you out of your mind? I speak with many partners of the firm, as well as other people in HR and other groups, so I often have insight into things that are coming before others do. Why in the world would I cite my source or sources? That would be career suicide.

    Unfortunately, and i am on staffing calls etc as I am in the Management group, there have been many rounds of layoffs across the firm. If you aren’t aware of these, I have to wonder where you have been. Audit has had a few, however my group, ERS, has gone through a few more than Audit, but at a much smaller level. This next round of layoffs, as I am told (and no I won’t cite my sources) are being driven out of national at a regional percentage level…meaning, each region will be required to cut x % of audit and ers. This has been known by the partner group for some time and they have been having bi-weekly calls to discuss it.

    It is tough times for everyone and the firms are no different. I personally don’t see how we can lay off any more people in my office, but that is just my office. My region has quite a few people who are riding the bench and for that matter don’t seem to be working on sales leads either. Unfortunately, this will lead to layoffs. If reading the board bothers you, I’d suggest not reading.

  161. I do not work for DT, but they are our external auditors. A number of these indivuduals have told me that 200 indivuduals from the north east have/or plan on being laid off in the next week or two.

  162. any news on final counts of the kpmg layoffs? are they done with it?

  163. KPMG laid off a number of people this week in their Forensic practice which is a division of Advisory. All offices, regions, levels etc seem to have been affected. Q3 begins April 1st and they need salaries off the books by then. Don’t know what they’re telling the people who were let go, but I have inside information that the staff members with the lowest utilization were let go first and the Mgrs/Directors not bringing in business were also first on the block.

    Contrary to what others have said, the practice is still winning a lot of business, the real issue is that they’re going down to 50% of their rates to win that business, sometimes less. My office if faced with the possibility of almost all staff being 100% utilized for the next 6-12 months but we’d only be bringing in fifty cents on the dollar.

    Standard package seems to be one week’s pay for every year with the firm, all your time off paid as a bonus and two weeks notice. All that works out to about 6 weeks to most staff members. I would advise anyone affected to go into the self service connection and change their withholdings to “0” asap so that their severence isn’t taxed at 40%. Unless you like being taxed at 40%.

    I’d also suggest printing out your paystubs, etc in case the local unemployment office gives you a hard time. It is rumored that the OMP of every office is asking people to submit their resignation, which may affect your unemployment status depending upon your jurisdiction.

    FYI – they said that some partners were let go. Does anyone know what that really means? Presumably as a partner/prinicpal you would have an equity share in the business and can’t simply be fired.

  164. It’s on at DT….i know atleast 2 people being asked ot leave today. How many in total? Dont know, we will get to know soon.

  165. Curious – DT. I work at DT and it’s hard to believe you do given your comment on layoffs. If your that clueless then I have to seriously question your abilities in general and think that maybe you should be the next to go. Or maybe should have even been cut a long time ago.

  166. @Anon: are you talking about boston office?

  167. any news on KPMG layoffs? are they done with this round?

  168. @159 Curious DT – Have you been living under a rock? How’s this for specifics, I am sitting in 2 WFC typing this and a senior just called me to let me know that she got the “Invite for a meeting with HR” for tomorrow. This has been coming for at least a month, the partners know all about and are playing dumb(er than usual) – I was expecting the bloodbath to start Monday but DCS must have screwed up printing the layoff letters just like they usually screw up my financial statements.

  169. KPMG is not done yet. I was let go today. It was somewhat of a shocker because we only have a few people in our office and a ton of work (we are understaffed quite a bit). Last year we had 4x the number of individuals and the same amount of work. I was an EP (exceptional performer) on my last review and have a very high utilization rate with A LOT of work now and all year. So, it doesn’t matter what level you are or your rating or what’s in your pipeline. I fully believe it’s your relationships with the partners.

  170. Curious DT, you amuse me. Nearly all the comments provided on this blog should help someone who isn’t even in a big four ‘figure out what’s really going on’. Roles are being impacted more now than before is the big picture. Most of the baseless speculation about layoffs you’re referring to was made months ago well before busy season. Now, were starting to get some confirmation of our predictions. For the past 3 days, we’re already getting descriptive testimonies of people from KPMG and Deloitte who have already been impacted…and my guess is we’ll be hearing more testimonies from unfortunate victims in the days ahead (and we’ll hear less speculation based on what’s been “heard” or “seems to be”). Maybe then you will get a much clearer sense of what’s really going on.

  171. @169, it really is based on your relationship with the partners. For example, if you live down the block from your partner, and your stay-at-home spouses socialize and are close, your changes of being laid off are quite low. Even if you aren’t busy, they will take work away from someone else and give it to you.

  172. Are the layoffs with a particular pracitice or across the board? Have any layoffs occurred in tax?

  173. KPMG lost Apple to EY out west… more bad news for those at the firm

  174. I work for DT AERS in NY. Based on my understanding, the Audit planed to cut about 10%, and ERS about 7%. The layoff started on Tuesday (so the first batch of emails sent out on Monday). Keep in mind, in DT, they don’t like to fire people on Monday or Friday. The partners knew this about 1 month ago. The listing was created and has been floating around since. I think there is a bit different how they deal with this between Audit and ERS. Since audit is a big department, partners just provided their inputs whom they wanted to get rid of within their engagement teams. Of course, I heard some senior managers were rushed to work on their staff’s evaluation in last minute so they could find the “low performers”. ERS, on the other hand, is a much smaller department. Usually the partners had calls to discuss/debate on whom they needed to fire. This is the fifth layoff for ERS since Jan 2008. In fact, they have cut a lot of people before the latest batch, so they had no choice but start cutting some “good performers”.

    One thing I want to point out is that in ERS (where I work), based on my observations, minorities like Chinese and Indians were usually the first to go (especially the ones on H1 Visa). One of my senior managers called the ERS partner group as “short white men club” so you are much safer during the layoff time if you fit in that category. For group like ERS, when you look at their first year and senior group, most of them are minorities. But then when you look at senior managers and partners, you would understand what I am talking about here. Another good example is that, since last year, most of partners got demoted to directors were female partners. I don’t know how they can get away with this…

    My final advice to all the readers who work for DT or any big 4. Have your resume ready and have a backup plan. Another round of layoff is coming in May/June after the year-end evaluations or before the new physical year. You will learn that the partners are not good businessmen and they are not very good at running a company. During the bad time like this, they have NO IDEA what to do.. They run the company not based on common sense, but on the stupid (and wrong) forecast or planning. If they cannot make the plan, you will be punished and you will be the one out of the door…

  175. They rarely let partners go. Remember, the partners own the Firm and as the saying goes “there is no I and you in ME” or something like that. It is their income and lifestyle they are used to and protecting. I think that the bulk of the cuts will be in staff now that most of the jobs will be finished. They don’t consider the person in any of this stuff. When they talk of cuts across the firm they are just cutting numbers. The reality is your performance doesn’t mean squat. If they bring in the best and the brightest from everywhere, there shouldn’t be that many low performers anyway so someone has to go.

  176. I am anxious to know about number of people laid off in my office. Thus I just copied all the name from the mailing list from the mail sent to my office. you people can also do that.

  177. @174 – your point in the second paragraph is very true. I know the individuals you are talking about in the “short white men club” and the former female partners who were demoted. Sadly the people I have heard from who have been cut this week include those who are certainly not poor performers – I know this as I did their evals in the past! So unfortunately being good at your job is not enough to save you right now if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time or if your face doesn’t fit with the partners.

  178. Orlando D&T office, 2 got laid off

  179. What about D&T in the midwest? Any news?

  180. And Pacific SW

  181. Any Idea when KPMG NY office is gonna get hit – and who would be in focus – i have been hearing its the seniors this time

  182. RE 174 – The people who were laid off may have been very technical and good at their job, but I presume the ERS business is largely dependent on selling work. If those individuals can’t sell projects or develop rapports with clients, there’s no reason to keep them. If they could sell projects, they’d be utilized. Why do people think it’s a partner’s job to sell – anyone from manager up should be responsible for their own career and if they’re not being staffed, the problem is normally with the indivdual and not the firm/partners. Casting blame on a structure is just failing to accept responsibility that maybe one isn’t cut out to be a consultant. If you want an accounting job without having to sell a dime, go into industry. If not, don’t complain if a sales company doesn’t keep you on board for not selling your services.

  183. Totally agree with 182. Tired of hearing whining from managers and senior managers who are can’t sell but want a sale organization to support them. What is this a charity?

  184. Curious DT and 183 (probably also Curious DT agreeing with himself) – are you now acknowledging that you have been underneath a rock? How do you transition from not knowing about any layoffs to trashing “technical” and “good” people (who supposedly can’t sell according to you) deserving to be laid off. Are you trying to say that it became a charity when the economy melted, or was it always a charity? We’ll all be laughing at your $750 or less unit payout this year. This is assuming that there hasn’t been (or won’t be) an equity call. Your time would be better spent working (kissing ass) so that you don’t get booted.

  185. If I could just put in a truly sincere plea for rationality here – I can’t be the only one checking these comments who has become disgusted with the personal sniping found on greendotlife. If at all possible, it would be wonderful to keep these comments focused on the issue (layoffs). The firms don’t supply rational information about layoffs so we have to get it another way – please, let’s not pollute another invaluable source of detail.

  186. I received an offer to join KPMG in the forensic practice this fall. I read 163’s comments which has me worried now. Is there a possibility that layoffs might continue in KPMG Forensic? I am a bit reluctant to accept the offer knowing what is going on.

  187. @Broker Thanks for that. I have a policy of either publish or not. No edits. I do not want to become a censor, but I also do not really want to be a vehicle for insults. Play nice, be helpful, criticize content, not the person.
    Francine

  188. @Soon Graduating My understanding is that KPMG Forensic is busy, but like every other practice and firm, made some cuts needed to resize. Stay in touch with the hiring partner, keep your eye on the ball. If you like the work you’ll do, like the people you’ll work for and don’t see any significant change in the client outlook before you join, go for it. But I would advise any May grad to have a Plan B, no matter where you’re going.

  189. I accepted an offer to join EY Tax after graduating and am starting to tweak out a bit :(

    i’ve already taken the signing bonus + signed up for CPA prep classes etc…it’d be a lot of money to pay back if I got cut before I even started!

  190. 189: wait, are you saying we have to pay back cpa prep course material and return the gifts they’ve sent us if they rescind the offer? omg that’s insane!!!!

  191. Soon Grad – You should be concerned. Think very hard about that offer because word is that KPMG forensic practice laid off 50-60 people this week – which seems small but amounts to nearly 10% of the practice. So you should be worried. Do not accept blindly and think everything will be cream cheese going in. Things may improve by the time you start in Oct 09 but if what people like Roubini say is true things will not be better by then. The fact is there wasn’t enough work for the current model size and I cannot imagine there being enough in the next 6 months to require a gaggle of new hires fresh out of college.

    KPMG Forensic is not busy. Utilization is below 50% probably in the 40s at this point. And this is just utilization the rates getting contracted on jobs are horrendous. Most projects are being engaged at 30-50% (this is the high end of the range if a partner is lucky) of full rates which is terrible and destroys profits. The pipeline is very quiet as well. And clients are giving ZERO travel budget which means you only eat what your partner kills in your local area. Big project elsewhere does not mean hop on a plane and be busy for months like the good ol’ days (circa 2 years ago) even if it is your partner who wins the job – just means people from another office get busy. Thankfully the partners are a good group with sharp skills but the business environment is take a toll on morale and requiring the most intense focus and all their energy with not much fruit too bear enough of the time.

    It may not take the form of future layoffs but a new hire could start, find no work, and find themselves out of a job due to low performance (i.e. 0% utilization).

  192. Big manager only special meeting in the office today… that combined with multiple e-mails to get reviews done (OR ELSE) and the timing along with the fact we haven’t seen layoffs… probably will get some word next week.

  193. Question, we don’t use “Utilization percentages” at my firm. If your utilization is 50% does that mean your hitting 50% of your chargeable hours goals? Or is it a ratio of Billiable hours to Admin hours?

  194. Soon Graduating — some KPMG Forensic offices are busy, some are less busy. My office had zero (count them – zero) Forensic layoffs… and we are one of the largest Forensic offices in the US. The economy is tough and whether you have an offer with KPMG or any other company out there — the future is unknown. If you are the new hire that I extended an offer to — I really need you and am looking for you to start. But nothing is set in stone from any side of the situation — clearly you can continue to look and back out should you find an option that feels better or safer. Surely if the economy does not improve there is a possibility that KPMG will withdraw the offer.

    I have been reading this over the past few days and at times find it humorous. Recognize that companies do not want to lay people off, and partners are hurting in this economy as much as others. The KPMG partners (at least in Forensic) have accepted a 20% reduction in pay before considering lay offs and did that without batting an eyelash. It benefits them to keep the teams they have developed in tact and ready for the economic upturn when it happens. They have invested in the team they have and rebuilding is difficult.

    As someone who participated in the decisions on who to lay off (and I can speak only for my office managing partner) – know that there are many factors involved in making the decision. Utilization is only one of those factors — and often provides an indication of who is under performing as it points out the staff that management chooses not to use. But some with high utilization may be inefficient or ineffective. If person A charges 10 hours for the same work that person B performs in 3 hours (assuming the quality of the work is the same), then utilization is not necessarily selecting out the right person to keep. Factors involved include: marketing, networking within KPMG to bring more teaming engagements, utilization, quality of work, attitude, teamwork skills, fit in a consultant environment, team building, training skills, people management skills, and many more.

    I do not suggest that all partners are wonderful, fair people with high integrity, but I do suggest that before ripping them you should consider how you would make the decision and what you would do if your office has been <40% (some offices have been in the 20% range) utilized for 4-6 months now. The partners first responsibility is to the health of the company, and if they can keep it healthy then there might be a job to come back to in time.

    Don’t get me wrong — there of plenty of things at KPMG that can be improved… many unfair things and counterintuitive practices. There are also plenty of incompetent people at all levels in KPMG — including partners, directors and managers. But this is true at 100% of the organizations you could work for — pick your poison. I have seen much worse corporate cultures and environments.

  195. @192- what office?

  196. Largest office with no layoffs? Well LA, DC, CHi, NYO , ATL all had layoffs so u are not from one of those offices which means the only large offices left on list of the large forensic offices is Dallas and SFO…any other office is not “one of the largest.”. So interesting how u define that, unless u are at CTEC.

    Regardless the partners, excluding having known about the 20% hit, are a great group overall and handled this very difficult situation professionally and compassionately. A terrible economic environment had highly personal effects and now some good people are looking for jobs. I don’t believe the partners made these decisions easily and certainly with a heavy heart.

  197. @193 I believe the basic measurement for utilization is the percentage of chargeable hours you have out of a 40-hour week. I think the base figure is adjusted based on the nature of the non-chargeable hours–if it’s training or vacation, or certain other things I don’t think it counts against you the way it does if you just have idle time. I’m not sure—there have been reporting periods where I thought my utilization was terrible where it ended up not being so bad, so I’m guessing I don’t have it completely correct.

    PWC has finally cut the national trainings, at least for FY 2010.

  198. 194, you are drinking too much Kool-Aide. The practice is not doing well or utilization would be much higher for everyone. Not “just a few good partner’s people” at acceptable utilization rates and then others at nothing. Positioning was taking place on all fronts since year end, including BD, Utilization and Performance interference. Of course we all know that the practice of position is now over and lay-offs went across all lines. It is the Partners, Managing Directors, and Directors responsibility to bring in the business. So blaming other for under utilization in inappropriate. But hay, when you are high on the food chain, make it everyone else fault.

    Oh, the poor partners are taking a 20% pay cut from $750+K a year… Please….

  199. You find people who lost their jobs “humorous”. Wow… Speak volumes. I wouldn’t go to KPMG just for that comment.

  200. I accepted a tax associate offer from KPMG in NYC. I was suppose to start in September after I graduate in May, but they pushed my start date back to December of this year… I’m terrified that I’ll work for a few weeks and get laid off or, worse yet, have my offer revoked. Seems like all the accounting firms are laying off people or have a hiring freeze in place… not much there for a plan B…

    I also heard that KPMG consolidated their audit national training into one session. I’m not sure about the other practices, but it would make sense if they were doing the same. I can only confirm audit because my professor is involved in their national audit training.

  201. People losing their jobs is NOT humorous. Blaming partner’s trophy wives is. There is a huge leap to say that the text in this blog is humorous equates to saying that people losing jobs is humorous. Yes, KPMG is struggling (just as most other companies are right now) but there are pockets of positive news. Creating panic for panic sake, taking the layoffs as a personal attack and thinking that the partnership is out to get you if you still have a job… energy spent on those things would be better placed in constructive thought about how to make your future and your company’s future (should you still be working) be a better future than you think it will be. There is power in positive thought — if that is kool-aid then there is a time to drink it. Every minute spent creating more panic and stirring up more anger is a minute that isn’t spent on improving the future for yourself and your firm or your future firm, and your family and friends. Venting is healthy only if it leads to something. I have been there — I know the pain and fear… but FDR actually had it right that the only thing to fear is fear itself — because giving into fear doesn’t solve anything. Call it kool-aid if you will — but without kool-aid we would all be sunk.

  202. Not really a hiring freeze, they need new blood to keep the firm going, they can’t survive without manipulating new people. People get burned out because the industry is a joke and they realize they are working too hard for what they make.

  203. Let’s see a firm has to cut 10% of people. The 10% let go represent the weakest links. No ifs, ands or butts about it. How that population is derived – may be subject to any number of variables, including utilization, certification status, personaility etc. But in the end, the 10% let go represent those the firm believes are dead weight. There’s no two ways about it. People who say “it is aboun’t you” or “it’s your position that was eliminated, not you” are just trying to make the laid off person feel better. The person shouldn’t be made to feel better – they should work on improving their skills. Only then can they truly thrive in their next position…

  204. To respond to several points that have been made with regards to KPMG:

    @163 – The rumor of “every” OMP asking for people to give a resignation letter is not true, at least not for the Houston office. But I would agree that it sounds like an attempt to deny unemployment benefits. In that situation I’d tell them to go screw themselves, as it isn’t like they have anything to hold over you (severance package is dictated by policy, and it isn’t like they have the option of firing you anymore).

    @169 – I completely agree it is all about your relationship with the partners. Many of the layoff decisions they have made make no logical or business sense, and those who are buddy-buddy with the partners or are young and female and have ample “assets” are magically still around despite lower utilization, credentials, etc.

    @186 – I’d definitely try to line up a Plan B and not completely depend on a KPMG Forensic offer. Some of the layoffs were at staff level in Forensic, so I think it would be a stretch to say that that offer is safe or that you are virtually guaranteed of still being employed 6 months after you start.

    @189 – I don’t think you’d have to pay back the signing bonus or the CPA prep as if the offer is rescinded you weren’t the one who made the decision. It’s a slightly different situation, but I know people who had outstanding offers when Andersen imploded after Enron got to keep their signing bonuses already paid. I’d imagine the same would apply here.

    @192 – I know Houston Audit had a similar manager and above only meeting a couple of weeks ago, with the understood purpose to discuss staff performance.

    @194 – I’d agree with 198 that you need to lay off the Kool-Aid (no pun intended). It is one thing to not go around and yell that the practice is going to hell in a handbasket, but it is another to pretend nothing is going on and everything is just peachy. Anyone who isn’t at least preparing themselves for the possibility of a layoff at this point is a fool, regardless of the BS that comes out of the partners’ mouths.

    @197 – Utilization is simply the percentage of chargeable hours logged based on 40-hour weeks. KPMG used to use a measurement we referred to as “net utilization” that adjusted for hours logged for PTO and training, but they went away from that a few years ago since many of us started breezing through web-based CPE programs so we could log hours to training instead of non-charge to artificially boost our utilization percentage. It’s really pretty unfair the way they do it now because your utilization gets dragged down if you actually take your PTO, and of course they don’t let you carry it over indefinitely.

    I guess my point is that everyone should be on their guard and at least be prepared if you get axed. Make sure your resume is ready, start networking for new positions, log all the CPE you can so at least you won’t have that expense if you get laid off.

  205. Does anyone know what severance packages DT is giving out this time around?

  206. @201. I agree with you on most of your points. “Venting is healthy only if it leads to something. ” Maybe KPMG is better, but at DT, for the past week, all my co-workers were reading this blog to get the lay off news. Why? Because they were all living in fear and they had no other channel to get the layoff info. There was NO communication from the firm or from the partners they worked for. I heard that NY completed the layoff in one week. But for some other offices, they plan to do different levels in 3 different weeks. I think that is why people were angry with the partners. We (AERS, but I think it applies to all big 4 audit), just completed the busy season. We worked 55-60 hours a week for the past 3 moths. For ERS, busy season started in last September. And now, the work is done and they kicked us out of door…

    Positive suggestions? Sure. We told them that everyone was willing to take a pay cut. No. We told them we were willing to work fewer days a week. No. We told them we were willing take LOA during slow time. No No No… Just like @ 183 said, the firm is NOT a charity. You don’t sell, and you don’t bring in money, you are out!!!

    Ok, how about at least gave us a warning so the staff could prepare for it? Yes, the rumour was around, and Barry was doing his straight talk. But as one my seniors said when she was packing up to leave: ” where did I find my time to look for a job when they worked us 60 hours a week”.

    Well here we are. We tried my best not to blame this to the partners. I am sure there are a lot of good partners in the firm. Like @194, I believe he/she is a partner. We do respect a partner or a human being like that. However, as I pointed out as above, overall things just do not add together.

    One interesting to say here: DT did not lay off any first year because they are worried about their reputation in the colleges. Well, good news to all the pre DT students. But to the rest, sorry. Good job Uncle D, you do care about People…

    Finally, Francine, thank you for putting this platform together. You have no idea how much people love your blog during time like this… everyone was reading it!!!

  207. EY did layoffs this week in Chicago. As said above numerous times, at least a few reliable top performers – your go-to guys and gals – got the boot wtih no good explanation. It seems like they’re trickling them out to avoid publishing the layoffs, but I’d be afraid to work for a company that is consistantly secretive about their layoffs.

  208. #201 – I agree with a number of things that you have to say, and not with others. The one thing that I would point out here about the firms, and being in one and coming from a family with a partner for a father I understand them, is that the firms are centered around one thing – partner profits. This is the reality and if that means during tough times that employee raises and benefits are cut, partners will do that to keep their income as close to the previous year as possible. That is a reality, period. Now, having said that, I’d say that Industry to some degree isn’t much different, as shareholder profits must be considered and for private companies, owners profits are considered. I think one of the major differences, and one reason that so many have anger surrounding the firms, is that the firms drive their people hard to begin with, much less when times are tough and we are being told to do twice as much with little to no comp incentive. The reality is that the average tenure at the firms is less than 3 years, and that is for a reason – reason being that staff and seniors are worked so hard that they either burnout for just get fed up.

    Bottom line, I look at Francine’s blog as informative (as Francine is wise and has many connections, not to mention her stint with the firms herself), a place to collaborate with other colleagues, vent, and in many respects, see reality for what it is. Reality right now is that everyone is struggling and the firms are no different. I just believe that the manner in which the firms, in general, handle layoffs is less than stellar, which leaves many with a bad taste in their mouths.

  209. I’m a National Recruiter with a major consulting/accounting/tax firm looking to hire candidates with Big 4 Audit experience, contact me if you’re interested in learning more, christine.perna@rsmi.com

  210. Just got out of a meeting—looks like PWC is going to overhaul the review process in such a way where it will probably be easier to label someone as an underperformer–for example, instead of rating from 1-4 they are changing to 1-3, and I believe they are not having the individual be as involved in the review process–they’re having their coach do most of the interaction with the reviewers.

  211. I heard that people have been laid off in Houston office of D&T. Does anyone has any news on that?

  212. yes – 208… the way layoffs are handled leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. But this is the way it is done all over in all types of firms. It is the way it has to be done. If they come out and say something too early, the entire thing may turn around on a dime. First, whether there will be cuts, then how many to cut, then who to cut — all that changes by the second up until the time it is done. For some it is the luck of the draw — I am sure some people who were not let go are not as high a quality employee as some who were laid off. Reviews and layoff decisions are, in the end, subjective. We can pretend they are objective — but they are not and there is no way to make them objective. Managers do not like giving bad reviews — so they often tell prettier pictures to the staff member than they tell to management when review/layoff decisions are made. Honesty is a core value, but politics are at play — in every organization.

    As for partner pay and the 20% cut — it is hard to say what that means as partner pay is variable and the mechanisms are unclear. But I believe partners get some kind of draw against projected profits. Then at the end of the year there is a reconciliation to actual profits. Based on that, the 20% number is likely the cut they agreed to in their projected numbers. At the end of the year when some partners come in with 20% of the work than in past years – they will be hit much harder. This is the nature of business — not a personal vendetta the partners have against their workforce. To those who strive to be a partner — you pay your dues, work through the politics and the process — and then you reap the rewards. But look at the reality — when you become a partner you lose money for several years because you had to pay into the partnership, and your pay is 100% at risk (you may earn $0 or $1M depending on your performance). As a partner, the politcs are still there only 100 times harder to deal with. As you are working through the ranks you take on less of that risk — but if the partners fail, you may not be safe. In every society and every firm there are the haves and the have-nots. If we believe in communism then there can be a situation where everything is truly fair and equitable. That is a wonderful thought — but seems not to be a reality that can sustain itself. Everyone is feeling the pain in their own way — it is hard to compare a partner’s pay loss to a staffer’s lack of a job to a CEO’s bankruptcy and so forth. But in the end there are a lot of people who did all the right things and are paying more heavily due to this economy because of others who did not do the right thing — they pay more cause they have more and in the end they wind up keeping enough to be OK. Then there are those that lose it all. How do you compare the partner who loses $1M in 2008/9 but still has $1M in the bank to the person living on credit who lost their home but never really owned it in the first place… and is in the streets. Who lost more, who is more deserving, who is the better person?

    As for across the board paycuts — that will only work when the people left in the firm believe in that team enough to invest in each other. The people who feel at risk are likely more willing to invest in their co-workers than the people who do not feel at risk. As for 4 day work weeks — if in a 5 day work week you work 50-60 hours, then how many hours do you work in a 4 day work week? People volunteering to take LOA — that sounds like a pretty good idea though. All these things are on the table at KPMG — and I do expect that these layoffs are not the end of it all.

    Those let go — you aren’t necessarily a bad performer — you may have been a bad fit with the firm. Your skills or personal aspirations may not fit with the corporate culture or the corporate needs. But the basic truth said above is true — layoffs will be targeted at those that the firm feels are underperforming the rest.

    To those still with a job — it is time to put the pedal to the metal and turn things around. Then maybe KPMG can hire the new grads and bring some other folk back. To those who lost jobs because the practice area lost it’s client base (SOX?) — you may need to retool yourself — diversify your skillset. But I do agree — think positive, move forward… usually in time these things work out better for all involved.

  213. Hello to all,

    Houston DT office has cut ERS folks today, and possibly have been all week. My friend in the ERS dept has told me that audit cuts are coming next week, and that only adds on to the rumors that i have already been hearing. word is that monday is doomsday for the audit side.

  214. Datamining @ 203,

    Your point would be better accepted if I hadn’t heard, from so many partners, how arbitrary the cuts have been. The word comes down from on high (leadership) and the partners are told to execute the RIFs; they don’t get to push back and say, “wait a minute, this person is not a weak link, this person is high utilization and has a full pipeline and has great performance feedback.” This tells me that, at least frequently if not all the time, it is truly not the “weak links” who are being let go, at least in the eyes of those who interact with them on a day-to-day basis.

    To those who are laid-off, I empathize but I know you will find new jobs soon, and will then realize that the world of accounting partnerships is but a small and often dysfunctional piece of the working world.

    Also, I find your use of the term “firm” naive and ironic. Get this: there is no firm. There is only a series of interlocking partnerships who have agreed upon a structure and rules of interaction, and who have invested certain partners with “leadership” authority. Leaders do what they have to do to stay in power; partners do what they have to do to keep in the good graces of leadership. The ability to grasp that dynamic and accept it as a fact of life is a prerequisite for promotion to partner. (I got it but couldn’t accept it.)

    Your advice to continue to grow one’s skillset is good and I endorse it. I just don’t think those who’ve been let go necessarily have weaker skillsets than those who remain.

    — Tenacious T.

  215. Deloitte tax partners in the Mid America region are taking an inventory of open client positions. Work hard and stay chargeable, but also pay attention to what is going on around you.

  216. @#213 – do you know what was offered to the Houston folks that got laid off? (How much severance?)

  217. any word on audit layoffs @ KPMG? no word here yet, just rumors that it’s coming up.

  218. Thanks for the tips and pointers, especially Francine (having read your blog for awhile now, I’m kind of honored you directly responded to me)
    @194: curiously, which office are you from? If you can’t say, at the least which region?

    The KPMG offer is the only one I have on the table at the moment, but I’m certainly looking into plan B options. Let’s all hope for a better economy soon so that ALL of us can stop worrying about this unfortunate situation.

  219. To “Soon Graduating’ -If you go to work for a big 4, learn as much as you possibly can, don’t spend your signing bonus, don’t buy a new car, and don’t pay rent. That way, when you are sick of the abusive hours or get layed off you will be ok.

  220. KPMG Forensic layoffs in CA/West were lighter than in other regions. The question is whether that is related to CA reporting/warning requirements or to the higher utilization in some of these offices. @196 had it right — SFO had no Forensic layoffs, Silicon Valley had one, Seattle/PNW had none, but LA had several. Don’t know about CTech. SFO Forensic utilization is running higher than other offices on the overall. Indy utilization runs very high. The Forensic/RECA practice is doing extremely well.

  221. I don’t really begrudge the partners though. They put in the capital. It’s their business and they should have a lion’s share of the profits. But it’s also their business to run into the ground.

  222. @212, thanks for the rational comments. I am particularly interested in the part where you analysed the alternatives. Here are some thoughts I have suggested to our leaders at DT, but of course, no response. I want to put them on here and see yours or others comments:

    So instead of cutting 10% of headcount, audit employees from staff to senior managers (or even partners) are provided with the following 3 options, and they have to select one of them. Of course, I am using 10% as an example here. In real life it could be 5%, 8% or 20%.

    1) 10% salary cut. If an employee is making 100k, the new salary will be 90k, and the cut will be baked into the paychecks throughout the year.

    2) During the slow season (e.g. from June 1 to Aug 31), take 1 to 2 months leave without pay. The length of leave will be calculated based on an estimate of 10% of chargeable hours for a particular level. For example, for a senior, if his/her estimated chargeable hour for a year is 1600 hour, then 10% will be 160 hours, which translates into 4 weeks of leave. The leave does not include his/her PTO time.

    3) Similar to option 2, but instead of taking a leave for a month, employees work only 3 days a week for a period of time. Use the same example, 160 hours for a senior, 16 hours of leave a week for 10 weeks. Again, employees have to take that during the slow season. And the leave does not include their PTO time.

    Here is the summary, every one has to pick one option based on their life styles. If someone has to pay their mortgage every month and cannot afford to lose a month’s salary, then the first option will be the best. For low-level staff, they may enjoy taking the second one so they can go travelling for a month during the summer. Or, a working mom wants to spend more time with her kids in the summer, the third option will fit her very well. No matter what, firms will end up saving 10% of the cost. Also, this will work well for groups like Audit or ERS because they have busy and slow seasons throughout the year. I am not sure about tax or other service lines because I don’t know their services well enough.

    Again, I don’t know if there is any hidden cost for these options. I also don’t know if there are any legal issues here. What I want to stress here is that we need to be creative in this very difficult time. I agreed with someone stated above, big 4 partners usually are not good businessmen. But that is not important. The important part is that you have to admit that partners and their employees are on the same boat, and no one wants the boat to sink. In order to go through this tough time, we have to stick together and help each other. If the firms do really care about their people as they claimed, layoffs should never be their only answer or solution. They don’t need to agree with the options I stated above, but I do hope they will try to do something different.

    Finally, this is to our CEO Barry, please stop your straight talk. This is time to listen…

  223. #220…you have good info. Though by my count LA lost a decent number % wise. Good people too. How did SFO not lose anyone – amazing that a large office like that wasn’t required to lose at least 1 when other offices coughed up more people – the utilization can’t be that good there. Interesting but the less people to get laid off the better but hard to reconcile when good people in other offices were let go.

    Seattle makes sense – smaller office.

    Indy? Who cares about Indy – that is a tiny office.

    RECA is understandable but that is a testament to the abilities of the partners to bring in the business especially given the real estate industry. Though the stimulus is going to zoom that biz.

  224. Anonymous@222 – All of Deloitte agrees with your options – we have all been suggesting this to everyone willing to listen. The smart ones (obviously not the leaders) cant figure out why they would not follow these options. Isnt it better to keep your experienced employees now on a lower pay/cost while carrying the same cost as lower number of full time employees, so they are available when the market turns back up? Leaders – Are you smarter than a fifth grader or what?
    we all are waiting for them to come back and tell us they are choosing these options so we can sigh relief and think that these Leaders werent dumb but were taking their time to evaluate all options….

    If I had 2 carpenters and 2 electricians, I could have them work on 4 clients and have the possibility of increasing my business if one of the clients needed some extr services than I would if I lay off one carpenter and one electrician…im sure given the choice of retaining their jobs as against getting laid off, none of them would have a problem with the options..besides, pump tax payer money into banks run by stupid morons and unfreeze the credit markets, but what good is it if I dont have a job and cant buy a car and a house? I could if I had a part time job or a job with lower salary instead? get that leadership? ugh! im sure not…

  225. D&T Central Florida Update:
    Jax – 2
    Orlando – 2 some say 3
    Tampa – 3

  226. kpmg rescinded offers. looks like pwc does or will do -if not done already- what #222 suggested above to new hires according to my friend at pwc. trying to keep their words in a strange way.

  227. KPMG targets 55-65% utilization across all partners/employees as being profitable. Utilization is chargeable hours divided by available hours (based on a 40 hour work week). Vacation (which is called PTO or paid time off — back to an earlier theme)/training are included in the denominator. Staff are expected to target 75% utilization, managers 65%, directors 50%. If SFO Forensic was spared — they must be seeing utilization over 55% on a fairly consistent basis. I wonder what jobs they are winning.

  228. In Barry’s “straight talk” in LA on 3/2/09, someone asked if rather than layoffs, Deloitte could use alternatives (pay cuts, reduced work weeks, etc). Barry’s response was:
    “No. We considered all of those alternatives…We considered sabbaticals, we considered four day work weeks, and we considered four day work weeks and paying more than four day work week salaries. We considered all of those things and the very well considered advice by our HR folks, with which I totally agree, is that none of those are desirable. But rather we should realign our headcount…”

    I don’t understand how those alternatives could be absolutely ruled out. My understanding is that some good people are being let go, and I would think you would want to avoid that if possible.

  229. did d&t new york office make recent layoffs? if yes, does anyone know how many?

  230. @228

    While other companies appear to be trying them, I can understand why they wouldn’t want to use those alternatives. They would still have to pay for all the other costs outside of salary like insurance, laptops, retirement plans (if they decide to still keep those), resources for trainings, etc. Salary is a large portion of the employee cost but not the only one.

    I would gladly volunteer for a 10-20% reduction in time and pay if offered.

  231. Heard from a friend at the KPMG Phoenix that they did another round of layoffs yesterday and brought up this article and blog. Mentioned that this is the last of the bleeding, however, the rational is still amazing as there are 9 Sr Manager’s with none let go. A few of them do not even have any clients to service. You would think that if a company is trying to save cost due to the economy and very little clients purchasing your services you would cut at the top (larger salaries) as you do not need that many managers who are not selling. 9 Sr Managers is unheard of at the other Big Four Firms for Advisory, especially the Phoenix market. Very funny for an accounting firm, can’t take the normal rational to help reduce cost – management must not hold their CPA. Just glad that I am still holding onto my job as my firm did some cutting at all levels, including Partner.

    Advise for you that are going to graduate in May or December – go for your master’s or other education and try to ride out a year, or if must, be very cautions what any of the Big Four tell you if you are joining – do NOT eat up the BS.

  232. Some are calling the “layoff” a way to clean out the under performers, but the truth of it is, they are only using two factors – popularity (boy’s club) and utilization. The latter is so BS as it is management tha places you on work not the staff, so if your utilization is low it’s more likely that the work they say is in the pipeline is not there. I know that is the case with KPMG as all the people we let go in the last few months were under utilized according to the spreadsheet that is always sent out. Not the staff’s problem that you can’t manage your scheduling and hiring, start slashing at management and quit taking it out on the little guy

  233. @Anonymous 12:20

    re: “Heard from a friend at the KPMG Phoenix that they did another round of layoffs yesterday and brought up this article and blog.”

    In what context was this blog and its posts brought up? Just curious…

    Francine

  234. Think about the alternatives:

    1) 4 day work weeks — people are not paid by the hour and do not work a particular hourly schedule. In the US in recent years (not just the Big 4) salaried employees tend to work well over 40 hours a week. This commonly includes weekends too. While the idea seems good (and most people would gladly accept a 4 day work week as a good compromise – they get less pay but more free time), it is almost impossible to implement unless the job is something like a manufacturing position.

    2) pay cuts — the implementation nightmare is in maintaining morale. While we want to save some good people, the flip side is do we want to invest our money in those that are not pulling their weight. The employee base will never agree 100% on who are the good and bad people, and thus who they are willing to invest in and who they resent investing in. It is possible pay cuts will work, it is equally as likely that the employees will be more competitive and more aggressive with each other to the point of damanging the teams ability to work well together.

    3) LOA — this idea seems to be trying to approach a win-win scenario. The employee gets something valuable — free time, but still has a job at a pay level they can live with. And the free time is concentrated and useable. Also the free time will be honored – unlike the 4 day work week. On the flip side the company has a challenge in maintaining operations. People need to be marketing in slow times. When a job hits people need to be available right away. Managing the LOA rotations is a huge challenge and likely unmanageable. It may work better in organizations with truly slow seasons, but not all Big 4 divisions have a slow season. Also, managing this approach in an equitable way — so employees who do this do not resent those that don’t is tough.

    An idea proposed above is to base the cuts and length of LOA on utilization. Remember that utilization is far from the only measure of an employees value at the company. It is just a measurable one — and it is inherently biased… this method of determining who is hit harder than others will cause huge anger and frustration among the employees. In addition, to some extent employees have control over their own utilization (e.g., they have historically performed well so people want to use them again, they have a specialized skill set that is needed, they have sold work…) but there is an arbitrary factor involved as well — some offices have less work and thus less utilization through no fault of the 1st year associate, some people are in the right place at the right time, some people are busy when the new huge job comes in but when they free up they are not needed on that job.

    The options require the company to consider many things:

    1) how to maintain morale (long term) at the firm
    2) how to cut cost
    3) how to maintain enough employees to meet demand

    It seems that hitorically layoffs appear unfair and inequitable in the short term, but in the long term the company morale and ability to operate effectively is better. I think that is the message Barry is trying to deliver. Now, how much research has gone into proving that is a question.

  235. My layoff last year was really a blessing as I was able to get into a company and job that I real like (and no crazy public accounting hours) while jobs could still be found. I was not a lifer anyways and was contemplating the transition. I just feel sorry for those that are currently going through the layoff process as yesterday I heard that a friend at my old firm was let go. Although, my current employer is facing hard times with the difficult economy as we have had layoffs, pay freezes, pay reductions for senior management and hiring freezes. It does show you that with the right management we are not making unrash decisions to reduce cost and looking at other alternatives that just firing people and loosing good talent. I would rather have a job with no pay increase or 401k matching than having to stand inline at unemployment. These time will pass, but the actions taken to get through them will not.

    Look out Big Four, your reputation is on the line as we are more connected to your life blood – college recruits and clients (via alumni). Good luck to those that have just recently been displaced – I feel your pain!

  236. @pre-B4 226: “kpmg rescinded offers”

    Any further details? Offices/practices?

  237. @235 KPMG is doing all the things you mentioned above —

    1) reduce 401K match
    2) reduce cost — no big training conferences, no travel for partner meetings
    3) pay freeze — we’ll ee, but we not expecting raises or bonuses this year
    4) upper management (partner) pay cuts
    5) and not lay offs

    Your firm and KPMG seem to be on the exact same page. Seems odd to criticize the big 4 for doing the exact same things you commend in your company.

  238. I see many complaints about long hours — Big 4 abuse! Consider the compromises in various job environments:

    1) consulting (which includes the Big 4) — higher pressure, longer hours, urgency, unpredictable hours etc. These are the cons. The pros — travel (often to fun places where you can visit for the weekend), higher pay, diverse challenges (maybe not in audit), personal growth, flexible work hours when you need it, flexible work locations when needed (e.g., working from another location when you need to be somewhere such as to care for a sick relative).

    2) corporate — more predictable hours, usually shorter hours, more predictable work assignments. How about the cons — less perosnal growth, less challenges, more monotony/routine, little to no travel (can be a pro or a con), usually less pay.

    You should match the pros/cons to your personality, needs and lifestyle. I’m sure that what I consider a pro others will consider a con and vice versa. Then choose. It isn’t appropriate to want the glamor of the Big 4 travel and the excitement of the high exposure jobs, but also expect the predictable and shorter hours. As with all things in life — you get the good with the bad. So pick what suits you best and don’t blame the company/firm for not giving you the best of both worlds.

  239. @234, thank you for your comments on each alternative. I do admit that each individual alternative has it drawbacks. Like PWC, I know they are doing something similar to LOA. Their program is on volunteer base so I don’t know how successful it is. But the key point I suggested above is to provide a basket of options all together. Barry and his leaders might consider each option one by one, but I am not sure they ever considered mixing them.

    Yes, first we have to assume the main goal of this is to cut cost. And if you want to be fair so everyone in the group (I am talking about group like audit and ERS here) has to participate it without exception. Again, the goal is cut 10% (or any number), so no matter what option you pick, we assume it will save the firm 10% of salary cost.. We can argue if option 2 and 3 should be utilization base or actual working hour base , but that is more a technical issue and is not a key issue here.

    I stressed above that my suggestion works best for the audit and ERS, because their normal working hours during the slow season are more stable and close to 40 hours a week. Of course, it also requires the leaders to do some planning and look for book of business during the slow period. One of the biggest advantages of my suggestion is that the management can put limitation on each option. For example, you cannot have 100% of your staff to take LOA in June because there are still engagements. How about set the cap on 50% pay cut (option 1), 30% LOA (option 2), and 20% flexible work hours (option 3)? Again, this percentage can be changed based on each service line or between audit and ERS depending on their workload. Also, they can change the ratio month by month. Also, for those on H1-B Visa, the option 1 could be the only choice. It actually gives a lot of room for the management to play around the numbers to meet the demand. It does take time for scheduling tough.

    Other advantages of doing these are that the firm can save their money on the severance packages and the cost of recruiting when the economy turns around again (someone mentioned this above too, thank you). Hey, how about the reputation cost for the firm?

    Lastly, lets talk about the long-term morale issue. I think it is also based on each firm or whom you are talking about. I can only speak for the group I am in (AERS). We had 5 layoffs in 1 year. My co-workers called it “slow bleeding strategy” from the firm. The poor kids have been living in fear and got their blood pressure up about every 2 months or whenever they received emails from HR or the partners. I know that the only reason most of them are still working here is because the market is so bad now. When it turns around, I suspect how many of them will still stay. Of course, I don’t even want to mention about the quality of their works under this kind of environment. We are still auditors, remember? Is it quality also cost to the firm?

    And in all fairness, I do think layoff is necessary as what @ 234 said. But should be a last resort? 5 times in a year, and NOT TRYING ANYTHING ELSE… Come on Barry!!!

  240. @235 – i agree! i was laid off in nov last year from kpmg. although i still haven’t found a job yet, i was able to catch up in my personal life in the past few months. i spent more time with my family and friends. i had time to exercise and to lose the weight that i gained in the past few years. i had time to do volunteer work and to do things that i wanted to do. this is a tough time. it’s not easy to get an offer nowadays b/c the market is so tight. but i also think…since i’m still in my 20s, this would be a good life lesson.

    for kpmg forensic @ SFO offce – i knew it didn’t have that many layoff b/c the team somehow still managed to have projects to keep everyone busy. and it had a huge project in 2008 summer that boost up their utilization. (and the team is not that big). but other forensic lines have been cutting people since 2008 Feb.

  241. any news about KPMG SFO office? can they rescind an offer if they already gave you the start date?

  242. @240 — KPMG SFO considers themselves a joint team with Silicon Valley and the joint office team is around 45-50 people (with only ~6 in SVO). This is one of the largest offices in US Forensic. NY has ~100. SFO/SVO is approximately the 4th largest office out of maybe 12. Combined the SFO/SVO offices had one layoff.

    @239 — I do find your menu of options idea very worthwhile. I commend “thinking out of the box” and I think it would be well worth approaching management with these ideas. I will do so in my firm. Unlike you, I believe management will at least listen on a local level and probably that is how one gets the business world to evolve. The thoughts you propose (while requiring a lot of details to be ironed out) are good, but require a cultural change not just within the firm but within our national mindset. I suggest everyone who reads it start that evolutionary change by discussing these thoughts and options with their teams and their leadership. But I wouldn’t expect it to change the way business works for quite a long time.

    @240 — Forensic US has NOT had a layoff since before 2001. They have let people go for performance issues — but maybe they worded it in a way that could be interpreted otherwise, or maybe they were kind and didn’t fight the unemployment claim. The person I know who was let go in July 2008 should never have been hired and was lucky he was kept around as long as he was. KPMG Forensic’s issues began during the good years — they allow poor performers to stick around for the ride, they give performance reviews that indicate employees are way better than they are, they promote people who aren’t ready (simply because they have been in a position for a certain number of years). Ultimately, much of the staff has an over inflated opinion of their work quality and value because management is too weak to tell them the truth. This sounds harsh — but one reason SFO was hit less was because in that office it is harder to get promoted, people get negative feedback and expectations are higher. During good times this upsets the SFO employees, but now they probably feel better about it.

    @235 — your story about a layoff being a blessing is a story told over and over and over again by almost everyone who loses a job (I too have experienced it). Maybe that is because people select the candidates to layoff well — selecting those that don’t fit well with their organization for some reason (which may not be skills or ability, but interest for example). For whatever reason — it is very possible to make lemonade out of lemons and I am happy for you.

  243. @241 — is it a Forensic offier? SFO Forensic has pushed back the start date to Oct because that is the start of their FY. They intend to hire those with offers. If the economy worsens I suspect that they may re-evaluate, but they totally intend to hire the Forensic people with offers for the SFO/SVO offices. Personally, I believe the new hires are safer than some currently with the team. You can debate the merits and fairness of that — but it is something I will not be surprised to see.

  244. @243 no it is an audit offer. my start date was for the beginning of october too…my friend who’s also starting this fall but in the SVO office had her start date pushed back until november. She’s freaking out that they’re just going to fire her after a few weeks. Does having a later start date indicate how bad the practice is doing in that location? any news of layoffs in audit for SFO?

  245. FYI to all commenters:

    Thanks so much for all of your very quantitative and qualitative comments. As you know, they don’t get posted until I read and review for content (no names, no vulgarity, no spam.) So be patient, please, if there’s a slight delay in your comment appearing. It just means I am eating, sleeping, out with the Rosie Rott, or in the bathroom. Otherwise I am around all weekend and getting them up for you as soon as possible

    If anyone wants to email or direct a question to me directly, I’m here. Don’t forget to link to me on Linked In and let me know if you’re in Chicago and want to connect in person. I am thinking about having a Chicago Area Big 4 Pink Slip party in April. Drinking, networking, and an opportunity to share contacts.

    Francine
    fmckenna@mckennapartners.com

  246. @big 4 new hire

    I was also pushed back to November starting in audit. I feel the same as your friend does… not quite sure what to do here since there really isn’t any other options out there. This is scary.

  247. 236: can’t say which office but it’s audit. didn’t get the starting date.

  248. Has anyone heard how bad the layoffs are going to be at DT this coming week? Any idea if it’s more at the mgr/sr.mgr level or staff?

  249. @234 – Your thoughts while being disappointing, also causes to wonder which side of the fence you are on ! You clearly chose to take a one sided view of the options put forth, which really leads me to believe you are one of the DT leaders – no offence, just that the thought processes seems to be similar, scripted, or self serving. wish you luck and hopefully, some day you see the light of the day. draw the shades, friend.

  250. The major problem with pay cuts is that they don’t reverse themselves when the economy turns around. Firms aren’t going to just hand out pay raises in one shot to catch everyone up to where they would have been. So then what your left with is extreme salary compression where in some cases there’s only a marginal difference between what a staff person and senior (or a senior and their manager) are making. When this happens in a good economy, the senior or manager who’s making only marginally more than the person below them has a huge incentive to jump ship (and the ability during a recovery). So at the end of the day, does it really change anything for the firm? If anything they may wind up in a worse position (compared to layoffs). Once the recovery comes around the people they classify as top performers, but who they’ve forced pay cuts onto and haven’t given raises for a year or two, have a high likelihood of jumping ship. Keep in mind, whether or not these people are actually top performers, they believe they are top performers based on their evaluations and are likely to feel used since they haven’t gotten a raise. From the firms point of view at least by laying off people they can afford to keep giving raises to those who remain and mitigate the damage once those people have the ability to jump ship during a recovery.

    Now before everyone gets into a fuss over who is a top performer: Yes, a lot of the ratings are based on politics and luck of the draw (who has availability when a new job opens up that happens to fit their skillset, etc). Is that fair? Maybe not. But it is reality.

  251. For those of you, who are worried about getting jobs or your offers being taken away, don’t be. I graduated in a very bad economy in 1993. Yes, we have survived other bad times. I was unable to get a job in my field until November of that year. Basically, I worked for a temp agency, which ended up being a great experience.

    Once the economy began to heal, I was employed by one of the best and oldest companies in the U.S., not a big-eight (How funny how times change and I wonder if it will be a big three soon?). I would think that the firms, that are still doing OK, will need to replace the individuals who left, whether by layoff or choice. The firms will most likely decide to hire recent grads, as they make less money and can work long hours.
    For those of you who decide to go to the big four, it will be a good experience for some, for others it will be a different story. It does come down to how much the partner likes you. In good times, things are great. In bad times it is very cut throat. Those who you thought were your friends, you will find, really were not. It still is a big-four on your resume, which should be good.

    For those of you who are laid-off, I was there too in 2001 (I was a dot com’er then). You will experience the seven stages of emotions. My best words of advice are to actually make sure you enjoy some of the time off. The rest of the time, you need to be sending your resume and networking. Be strategic because there are jobs out there. Follow the money as they say. Many companies may decide to hire a second or third tier firm since the rates are much less. Why pay for a big-four when moral is down due to all the layoffs and the best are jumping ship because they can? (p.s., I see a lot of chatter about offices / groups that did not have anyone laid off. It may be because they lost people in other ways) Plus they are cutting back drastically on training live sessions. What a mistake!!

    Finally, if you are laid off from a big-four, don’t go back and call around inside the firm to a group you hear is doing good. A cut is a cut to save money across the bottom line. The rumors that a group is doing good, may be just that, rumors.
    Good Luck to All.
    .

  252. @249 — Is it a conspiracy — are the DT leaders all jumping on this blog so they can gain happiness and joy over the situation they have put people in by laying them off? Are they turning around and gloating about it to their friends? If they really are on the blog, it might be worthwhile to take the opportunity to talk to them in ways that can actually have a positive impact on the future – whether it be yours or someone else’s.

    The world is full of shades of gray — it isn’t about taking sides. If you have reasons why all these alternatives will work and how, then let’s hear them. Otherwise all you offer is an emotional response with no value and no path to change. In order to elicit change you need to offer an alternative that works and show how it will work. Other comments are very interesting — the menu of options idea, the thoughts about salary compression, the comment about how lay offs involve cost savings above and beyond salary (laptops, office space, etc)… these folks are thinking about what the issues are. With issues on the table solutions can be proposed.

  253. @250, I found your points very confusing and misleading.

    1) Your biggest assumption here is that the economy will turn around over night and people also expect to get back to their original salary over night. You completely ignored the overall market condition which wage rate in the (accounting) industry may also be adjusted downward during the bad economy. Similarly, you ignored the possibility that, if one big 4 firms is doing the pay cut, the others will follow as well (I think it is very likely provided with the competitive nature).
    2) You made an assumption that the pay cut varies on different levels. If a 5% pay cut is executed consistently throughout staff to senior managers, where is the salary compression coming from?
    3) You said: “Once the recovery comes around the people they classify as top performers, but who they’ve forced pay cuts onto and haven’t given raises for a year or two, have a high likelihood of jumping ship” Why? If a person is a top performer, and if they firm starts dong well, why wont the firm give the highest raise to the top performer first? That does not make sense to me at all.
    4) You ignored the influence of “tone from the top”. In other words, this is an expectation management game. What would happen if the cut started from the partner level? In this case, would top performers at lower level really think that they “were used” or “have forced pay cuts onto”?
    5) The last one, you assumed all the people staying at big 4 are only for money. Thus, the top performers would leave because “they are likely to feel used since they haven’t gotten a raise” after recovery. I am not sure if you are working for big 4 or not, but I can tell you that most of my coworkers don’t stay around because of higher salary. If you are a top performer, which I assume that means you are a partner potential, why should you quit just because everyone including you had a pay cut altogether?
    6) I know KPMG was doing pay cut on the partner level. If you points are correct, I think they are in deep trouble now.

    Again, I was very confused by your theory. But I think I know what you are trying to say here: For those top performers, they would not like the idea of pay cuts, because why they need to scarify their life style for other losers when they know they are less likely to be laid off. For that, I have no answer.

  254. Do all DT locations use glass offices?

  255. @237 – I think you missed what 231 posted – KPMG just did a massive layoff on Friday the 13th and from the sound of it, upper management was not included in the layoffs.

  256. @235 and 240 – Sounds like there is some positive out of all the negative and gives me some hope as I sit and wait if I’ll be the next victim

  257. @232—they are definitely coming after me regarding low utilization. Have to submit answers regarding my “plans to increase utilization” this week as part of the review process. We are at the point now where associates with a large volume of work are hanging on to it because they know it might mean their survival.

    I assume at this point the die is pretty well cast, so I’m just going to document that I have tried to find work and that the work is not there for people at my staff and experience level, so even if/when they do terminate me based on “performance” I can say that it was a constructive layoff due to the client work not being available.

    PWC apparently had some kind of conference call for new hires this week—don’t know the details, but I think it might involve cutting their pay.

  258. @255 – It is not clear that KPMG layoffs were not upper management. This also depends on the group. Forensic claims 70% of the layoffs were managers and up (as they were top heavy and there were over promoted director who were not selling). I believe the audit situation is very different from Forensic which is very different from ITA, etc, etc.

    @251 – cancellation of annual training — you say a mistake. I say thank you. The annual training is a big waste of money — a party for most under the guise of training which in reality is very poor training at best. Local office training, on the job training, external training are way beter than the company sponsored national training.

    @253 – I think there is some value to the compression argument, but your counterpoint is very true. People do not work entirely for money for one thing. I believe your final comment is correct but I would rephrase… if you are a top performer and willing to invest your money in your team in order to keep the company afloat — then who would you invest in. I believe you would want the company to layoff the underperformers first, not because you are sacrificing them for your lifestyle — but more because the health of the remaining company in which you are investing the lost salary is better than the company with those that you perceive as a carry cost. The problem is — when will you get a group of people to agree that those remaining in the firm are the right set to invest in? No one will get exactly the team they want.

  259. @256 – if you live long enough you will work through several economic downturns in your life. This is a bad one, I hope the worst in my lifetime. But given you will live through them — you will likely also lose a job or a promotion or a big raise or something big in at least one downturn. Like 235 and 240, I too have personal experience with losing my job. When this happened to me – the end result was a better job – in terms of pay, benefits, culture and more. If you get laid off remember to reduce your personal costs, accomplish personal projects that you never have time for, devote a predetermined amount of time to job hunting but do not dwell on it… and most importantly, enjoy the time off and do something constructive with that time. A layoff is not the end of the world. It used to be that older workers had trouble once laid off — the world has evolved that position too. What keeps unemployed people unemployed or underemployed (not always, but often) is giving in to the negative emotions and a self-generated need (yet unperceived) to be a victim. The key is to take life into your own hands, take responsibility and work towards positive change. You’ll end up better in the end.

  260. @TaxNewbie

    Here’s what I know about that PwC email to new hires:

    “We are looking forward to welcoming you aboard later this year.

    As a future part* *of the PwC team, we want to keep you updated on what is
    happening in our business and how we are navigating through this economic
    downturn. In particular, members of our national leadership team will
    discuss the affect this economy has had on our clients and on our
    profession. In addition, they will share with you our overall PwC people
    strategy, the messages that we have shared with our current staff regarding
    our plans for the upcoming compensation cycle, and changes that we will make
    in the compensation mix for our 2009 summer and fall hires. I hope you
    will be able to join one of these scheduled conference calls with our
    leadership. ”

    Sounds like setting them up for comp changes. Sucks. Is an offer letter a contract?

  261. @taxnewbie
    Perhaps compensation will also be affected by the outcome of the overtime lawsuit for PwC associates. The case is set to go to trial July 09.

    http://www.kcrlegal.com/news/PwC-wage-and-hour-lawsuit.asp

  262. As a recent hire that started this past fall, if those soon-to-be new hires that were sent that email start out substantially lower than what I started out at salary wise, I’m assuming I can pretty much kiss my position goodbye as they will just replace a lower cost new hire in my place.

  263. Sounds like a concerted effort by the Big 4 to ‘control the message’ has hit RE:TA en fuego.

    Such a sudden rush of advice from people who have been laid off before or sound sympathetic to management’s current actions (i.e. ‘here is why they can’t just furlough or use pay cuts’). They finally figured out they can’t control the message internally because of advances in technology and communication and Francine’s excellent blog. Left no other choice they have to voice “other points of view” on someone else’s blog…comical.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with what they are saying, just the tone of the comments has taken a drastic turn in the last week from oh say…last August. That and the posts sound like they were written by managers or at least older people than before.

    It’s interesting because my big 4 firm has pretty much pretended that this doesn’t even exist (‘poor performers, couldn’t cut it at this high a level’) yet just about everything on this blog has turned out to be the truth. Now they are trying to influence that too. Twisted.

  264. Is at-will employment fairly common for 1st years? When can I expect to gain some sort of…security?

  265. @ 255…where were the layoffs on friday for KPMG…no talk here about it..

  266. Been monitoring this for a while. My position at KPMG was “eliminated” last week. Hahaha, didn’t know I had a specific position.

    My office was hit like any others. I was pulling 50-60s during non-busy season for my advisory client and was told to come to the office.

    Yup, was one of the few people booked out till September when Audit-support work kicks in again. I was the only chargeable staff laid off.

    For your information, I was NOT a low-performer. I had 75%+ util and gaining. Would have made my goal at 80% at YE. Three quarters of the office had less chargeable hours. I was a SP, with an EP in EoC. I had a mentoring award, the most recruiting hours for staff, was on an internal committee, wrote RFPs, and identified a number of pursuit opportunities for the office. The 3 weeks I was on the beach, I worked 50s because I was busy helping out multiple managers. I was a second-year associate.

    And I got laid off. Versus people who for months, come in, sit around for 6 hours (incl hour lunch break), then bail. Shouldn’t I be disgruntled?

    No, because it’s a crappy economy, and the partners are protecting their business.

    The severance was not generous but fair. I rather it be me, who hated doing audit-support-work, was looking for jobs last year, and wanted to change offices… than my friends, who love the firm, enjoyed the work and wanted to make a career there.

    That’s it. There isn’t a simple formula why you get cut. I got cut, not for quantitative reasons, but for qualitative. I made it clear I didn’t like audit-support, further compounding management’s perception that I was a low-performer there.

    I’m not pissed. I know the firm is risk-averse. They are reeling from the economy, so they hunker down, protect themselves, and do what they do best: cookie-cutter audit work.

    My point is this… for those who are joining the firm, it’s a great place to work. You can learn so much, and the people are great. I love the people there still. But don’t be fooled when they say they care about this and that in their indoctrination documents. For staff, its one thing only, how much they can sell you.

    Even if they can sell you well, you can not rock the boat. They don’t like unknown factors. Smile and eat it all up, and you’ll be fine. If you don’t believe in your purpose, the partnership model, or cant deal with the politicking, you don’t have to be dishonest… but nobody asked for your opinion.

    Wow. That sounds harsher than it is. I’m glad for this paid time off to look for a job I can believe in. They made a good decision to cut me.

    It is a professional services firm. Not personal. Remember that.

  267. 263 – I had actually resigned prior to the Layoffs. When you are Senior in experience, have worked for numerous companies and have an ethical upbringing, you have a tendency to say “why would the firm act like this?”

    I watched the Layoffs occur this week. It was very sad, so that is why I’m sending words of encouragement. Contrary to the news and our government, there are jobs out there. I have two interviews this week in industry, was contacted by another big-four firm, and have four independent opportunities. This was not with a lot of effort. The bottom line is the world is not going to end and people are still going to need to help. I also am commanding the same or more depending on the position.

    I must say, I am very disappointed in the treatment of their loyal employees by these companies and hope the tone changes rapidly. This news will spread to industry and industry will realize the moral. I would not hire someone who is nervous about losing their job since their work normally suffers. It is a big-fours biggest mistake when they handle situations like this badly.

    I do agree that the training is lacking however there were some good classes. Sorry that you missed those.

    Finally, I have begun to wonder why the firms don’t do voluntary separations. I worked for a company in 1996 that offer that option due to the winding down of a project. I actually choose that path. It was a win win for everyone.

    Good luck to all!!!!

  268. You always hear on these blogs about how layoffs were a positive experience for people… because the rest of the people are homeless in a gutter and don’t have much spare time to surf the web…

    3 seniors I work with at D&T Audit in NYC were laid off on Thursday. Apparently, the manager/senior manager bloodbath will happen in two weeks once the workpapers are finalized and archived (prepare for the emails from the WAU police !) The plan is for the managers/SM to mop up the blood from this round and then wait meekly for theirs. The most frustrating thing about this process is the complete lack of communication from management — and by management I mean partners; managers, senior managers and directors are just employees on a slightly better pay grade. I am tired of being treated like a potted plant. I am tired of getting all of my information from this blog. All we have done for the last few weeks is discuss this.

    In the absence of communication from The Firm, I will be back here looking for information while I back up my files and email nightly in the event I need to walk, and I will keep sneaking out for job interviews.

    Francine, we look forward to articles from you about this; hopefully you can get them to comment again.

  269. 266-I am sorry to hear about your situation, but it sounds like you have made peace with it. Could be they chose you simply because they knew you weren’t a long term fit. I know this was a consideration for some of the decisionmakers. Keep up the good attitude, enjoy yourself and I trust you will find a good place to land. You are correct that the quantitative measures are not all that counts — and should not be all that counts.

  270. @CasperThe Ghost

    As you know, I got a non-statement from the KPMG spokesperson Dan Ginsburg.
    http://twitter.com/retheauditors/statuses/1310354446

    I will call Deloitte’s Deborah Harrington tomorrow and ask her for a statement.

  271. 263-seems like you are looking to hear only from those who want to be angry and bitter. I suggest listening to the diversity of thought and the variety of experiences people have had. It is a way to work through your anger and bitterness. I hope you use these ideas to find a better place to be in your life (in time).

  272. Information can set you free.
    In the firms, out of the firms, big firm, small firm, consulting, industry, CPA, internal audit…
    Or something completely different, as I have done.
    Lots of choices for the skills you have, skills you can have.
    Work, develop, build your skills portfolio independent of your job.
    For yourself.
    There is no one else looking out for you, especially now.

    That’s my goal for you.

    Francine

  273. 267-yes voluntary separation is a good idea and it worked very well in the 1990s. They gave good separation packages. Many older employees took that and then went to work in a junior position considering it a semi-retirement kind of thing. They had enough money to get by for a while and were happy to lower their level of responsibility and take lower pay. That is something I haven’t heard of recently – except in the mid-west where a school teacher I know was offered such an arrangement.

  274. […] been a whirlwind weekend, after a very busy week.  I have been posting comments almost constantly.  It seems that KPMG, and now Deloitte again, are cutting more people.  You […]

  275. For the people who still have jobs, God blesses you. But please stop calling people who got laid off as losers, low performers…why put salt on other’s wound? If you did not spend your valuable time listening to the victim’s true story, how could one be so judgmentally declare that they were losers and low performers?

  276. Those laid off are not losers and may not be low performers. I believe the comments are meant to be about how the partners make the decisions. They clearly have to cut those that they believe have less “value” to the firm in the long run. How they define “value” varies widely. Possibilities include combinations of things such as: utilization, managed revenue, won engagements, team development/training initiatives, fit with the culture, quality of work, dependability/reliability, attitude and so forth. Some criteria are unfair – perceived unhappiness, ability to schmooze for example. The firm is a mini-society, and the rules of the game “Survivor” are applicable — how do you decide who to kick off the island?

  277. @242, glad that to hear that you like my suggestions (@222 and 239). I am 100% in agreement with you that we need to start discussing these thoughts. I chose to post these suggestions not only for people at DT, but also for other big 4s (that is why I came to Francine’s blog). I don’t expect they will do exactly what I suggested. This is an extraordinary time, so we cannot just use our conventional wisdom to deal with the difficult problems. Yes, I do agree that layoffs have their benefits, and they are necessary from time to time. However, after several layoffs (5 times a year), which appear to be the only solution, is an example of lazy and irresponsible leadership. I don’t like to hear that the leaders describe layoffs as a “difficult decision”. How about making a more difficult decision: No More Layoffs? It is not easy. It requires creativity and innovation. It requires thinking outside of the box. It requires not saying “no” to all the alternatives. It requires wisdom…

    So please, to everyone who is reading this, talk to your peers or leaders, share the ideas or come up with your own ideas, and build up something feasible. Don’t rush through. We don’t need something only for PR purposes so the leaders can say : “see, we did something”. The solution has to be substantial, something that really works, and can be used for a true substitution for layoffs.

    Good luck to all… all the big 4ers.

  278. @277 – add to your menu of possibilities “voluntary termination” — that is usually with an early retirement package.

    One thing I was unaware of is the number of rounds of layoffs. You say 5 rounds at DT? This varies widely by group and firm. I have not seen (until now – and only one round now) any layoffs in my group since I joined about a decade ago. I am not in audit.

  279. KPMG is definitely all over the map on layoffs, at least in Chicago. Advisory took a pretty big hit here; lots of manager types are gone. I think audit has already been thinned out but couldn’t say for sure. Parts of tax may do better than others depending on their financials YTD and work in the pipeline. This week may be bloody once the 3/15 deadline passes.

    And the work/life balance thing is all over the map too, depending on which group you’re in. The real estate group gets worked like dogs; my group is extremely laid back.

  280. @264 at will employment is the norm until you make partner, and even then, new partners know they can be ejected with a handshake and a check to cash them out. Didn’t you pay attention in any of your business classes about the “new economy”? job security=your skills & contacts.

    @254 Glass offices may be part of the current Deloitte standard of office design, but it will depend when that office was last renovated/built out as to whether they have them or not.

  281. Regarding the words loser (completely inappropriate) and low performer. One needs to realize that there are only a few categories of why you would be cut:

    1) PERCEIVED low performer — remember performance is a subjective measure of value… and even if you aren’t a low performer, someone may perceive you as such

    2) PERCEIVED poor fit — personality and personal needs/goals may mean you do not fit into the corporate culture — again this is as perceived by others

    3) Bad luck — if the worst happens and there are no people in categories 1 and 2, you may get cut. Often the decisions made here are arbitrary — seniority, pay (get the biggest bang for the layoff), etc. Sometimes there are very unfair reasons in this category.

  282. @242 – Know that 277’s views are not those of the entire crew here at DT. I work in DT’s NYC office and would vehemently oppose accross the board salary cuts or reduced workloads. In essence, you’re punishing the entire Firm by forcing them to carry the dead weight for the underperforming 10%. Salary cuts/reduced work loads are socialist ideologies promulgated by the weakest links to maintain the status quo. The fat needs to be removed from the bones.

  283. 282 – I (242) agree with your comments (although wouldn’t word it as harshly), but think that 242’s thoughts are worth consideration in some cases. First, if the firm is already down to bones, or flesh rather than fat –and there is projected work moving forward, then maybe some short term alternatives are worth consideration. Second, some people might volunteer and like a LOA or termination with a good package. I do not think the 4-day work week can be successful in a consulting firm (maybe in audit, but I have no seasonality in my team). And I think pay cuts are very problematic. That said, I think we should discuss 277’s ideas to see if there is merit. On the whole, layoffs are hard, but they are hard in the short term. Long run — people move on and things get better for all rather quickly. But 277 has an interesting point regarding 5 rounds of layoffs in a year. Layoffs are best done if they cut deep in one fell swoop and get it over with.

  284. Any news about audit in KPMG’s Boston office?

  285. 282 – Since when salary cut becomes a socialist idea? Allowing wage to go up only but not down is called wage (price) control. Why does a company (competing in a free market) want to rule out that option?

    Guys, be rational here…

  286. I think it is a socialist idea because of the assumption that wages change equally (in %) to all and is not based on merit. If the pay cuts are adjusted based on merit as pay raises are (e.g., the weakest take the bigger hits) then it is more like a capitalist view. Doing equal cuts across the board is saying that merit does not matter and the strong are carrying the weak. Layoffs are generally based on some form of merit — and as such are less socialist… but the problem there is that it is an all or nothing decision (100% of your pay or $0 pay — no shades of gray). So, is the compromise that at review time the leadership decides both pay increases and decreases based on merit each year… and this would be a year of decreases. In this way paycuts would be based on merit just as pay increases are.

  287. 284…word is firmwide advisory got sliced first since there isn’t really a busy season but that audit was on deck and after busy ends (soon?) will be up to bat – and a smackdown it should be – if the numbers in advisory are to be comparable – however audit depends more on what the audit landscape is like in particular BUs and Areas.

    Goodspeed.

  288. KPMG Audit Layoffs: word on the street is it’s this week in the silicon valley office, good luck to all!

  289. Kpmg la tax will complete it’s layoff this week. I confirmed it with my pm. I was taken off a big project today, and my senior was shocked. My pm confirmed a big meeting will take place on Friday. Good luck

  290. any word on PwC tax west coast?

  291. If in a time of expansion we expect raises and promotions and bonuses, then in a time of contraction we should expect pay cuts, demotions and no bonuses. In expansion we award these things based on merit, and so in contraction we should also make decisions on merit. This seems to be the theoretical way things should work. At review time people should get an increase OR decrease based on market, economy and merit… every year. That said, there are other issues at hand that make it impossible to implement that solution. Essentially, this approach has too much negativism and that can hurt morale — so instead we do layoffs… which causes short term morale issues but in the long run the decisions were based on merit and people can move on (even those laid off generally move to a better place in life). The sad thing is that with layoffs the contraction disproportionately hits the low performers and randomly catches some good performers too. If we did pay cuts based on merit then the cost would be shared but not evenly. Layoffs also have the advantage of allowing us to “trim the fat” — and rebuild the organization possibly in a new or slightly new image. This is a huge advantage.

    So after reading this blog – I have decided that the layoff mechanism is the correct one most of the time.

  292. Any word on EY Tax in Texas

  293. Have not heard anything. Seem to be a lot of staff looking for work as busy season begins to wind down. I think at this point they may still intend to just terminate people via the year-end review process.

  294. Can people state location or region when reporting layoffs

  295. @294…No.

    They are taking place everywhere so look behind you for an HR hack and run if you see one!

  296. 291, why layoff must = “trim the fat”? Also how does “it rebuild the organization possibly in a new or slightly new image”.

    The ice cream shop on my street just laid off 5 people yesterday, i do not see it has new image today.

  297. btw, 293 was referring to west coast pwc tax.

  298. 296

    First, rebuilding happens over time. For example, if people aren’t buying SOX work anymore, then those who only have SOX experiences and skills can either be cut or re-trained… if they cannot re-train or there is no obvious next product line, then you have to cut them until you can figure out the “next steps” which ultimately result in a new image or direction for the company. If there are no more jobs like what you used to do, but now there is bankrupcy work – then you have to retool to do bankrupcy work, or work in the foreclosure area… retool the business to match the need/demand. Retooling cannot always involve the same employee mix. So your ice cream shop — there is less demand for ice cream and the shop can run with 5 fewer people. At the same time, the business cannot maintain itself at 1/5th the size, so the store will have to figure out what to do. They have space in the store as they need less ice cream, so now they open a new counter for some other product. While in this case the same person may be skilled enough to sell that product, it still takes time to retool, and in that time the owner can’t carry the full cost of all the staff. Further, now the owner needs someone who can handle more complex inventory management issues or whatnot. The business will change or die (to be reborn again when the demand is back).

    Second — “trimming the fat” – yes this is an expression that has connotations that are not necessarily accurate. It can refer to cutting people who no longer can meet the needs of your market, people who aren’t the top performers, or people who aren’t a good fit with your environment. While the words are harsh — that is why layoffs occur — because demand has fallen enough that the firm must address the issues of defining the “fat” in their organization. Each organization may define it differently. It is not an emotional, judgemental term in this context… just a note that there is excess and the firm has to reduce this excess.

  299. Theorizing on why tihs is happening is silly and changes nothing. Worrying about it wont keep your job. At this point knowing or hearing that it is coming can help position us to be prepared.

    Given that please just state what firm, location, date and how many people.

    Thanks.

  300. @Anonymous All

    Just to be clear… All comments, angst, theorizing, hand wringing, and worrying as well as advice, encouragement, suggestions, and cheering up is welcome. It’s my blog and I make the rules. Please do not discourage anyone from expressing their feelings and concerns.

    That being sad, all of us are interested in the facts. (Just like they say on line, A/S/L, but in this case #/Firm/Location/Practice).
    If you are reporting cuts, the more information you can give, the more helpful you will be to everyone else.

    Thank you all very much.

    Francine

  301. Knowing what firm, date and how many does absolutely nothing at all. Just do your job, do it well and what happens will happen. That is the only and best advice anyone can get when layoffs are looming. You cannot be prepared. The other discussions – well that might prepare you to understand the true nature of business and economics, may make you a better manager, may make you a better employee. Is it helpful to tell someone to run from the HR staff — if the HR staff are coming to your office, you cannot run, if the layoffs are happening in another office/region it means nothing about what will be happening in your office/region.

  302. Funny to read all above comments. Someone is doing his job and monitoring all the negative comments. Right, 298? You work for big 4 or you got hired to do this? Don’t take me wrong, I think you did a good job.

  303. @ All

    I would like to know any stats. I’m collecting them for a status post and I am talking to the PR people from the firms. Having details helps. So if you can offer details, I appreciate it.

    Francine

  304. Word on the street is Deloitte’s Cleveland office laid off “a significant percentage” of its work force today. I HAVE NOT CONFIRMED THIS but will respond when I do. Anybody else hear anything in regards to Deloitte’s Cleveland office?

  305. @301…it was a joke howdie. Step away from your roll forward and have drink, loosen up. Francine – get that person a shot of some of your fine tequila. They need it.

    @admin – KPMG FOR let go about 60-70 nationwide. All levels, associate – director (possibly MDs/partners but can’t confirm).

  306. The day is tomorrow (3-18-09) for KPMG SIlicon Valley. I bunch of us got our Outlook appointment invites for a confidential meeting with a partner.

  307. Grant Thornton’s BAS practice in Los Angeles has cut 27 employees over the last one month. This is basically a 50% cut in personnel.

  308. Hi Anon @305, any word on KPMG FOR Philadelphia office and NYC office?

  309. Additional information about cuts in Deloitte Knowledge Management (KM) Practice from a confidential source.

    No communications were made to the rest of the KM group. “KM leadership is literally ex-CIA & very secretive. Stupid for info org! Librarian in LA. KM in Houston. Lib support in NY. Sr Admin in SF. Maybe more…”

    Francine

  310. sorry to hear that @306 hopefully its not that bad. If it is keep your head up and remember this job doesn’t define you.

  311. Grant Thornton’s Carolina Advisory Practice cut in half!!

  312. @ 307

    that is a lot, any news on delay for new hires in BAS, tax or audit. I heard Socal cut 10 or so from tax recently (possibly?), they had 16-17 cut last yr in audit in March. I know many have left, including some good managers and partners. Well no, good people from all ranks have left. And i know they brought in around 30 new hires fall 2008 for audit. I feel bad, i bet there will be some delayed starts. Heard of delays last yr for bay area audit. What does that leave total socal personnel at?

    What happened to the $1,000,000+ paid managing partner (confirmed since the firm does his taxes and people gossip) that came from the east coast last summer so he could revitalize BAS?

  313. any news about KPMG SFO?

  314. KPMG NYC starts tomorrow!

  315. @302 – very funny, very wrong. Thanks for the laugh. Like all others — just interested in understanding what this all means on a personal level. And by all this – it is much larger than the Big 4. Listening to the constructive comments in the blog can present a challenge.

  316. @405 – the “running” comment was sarcastic embellishment on your joke (if you are 295). The rest was for the benefit of 399 who seems to feel that running from HR will help.

  317. Running from HR does help! I bolted from one not long ago – pushed them into an empty cube and beat feet! Still haven’t been cut since that incident!

  318. 3/18 – several layoffs in D&T philadelphia audit (staff through manager). not sure about #’s yet but i have heard about 10 names. senior managers are supposedly being done tomorrow.

  319. Layoffs in KPMG Chicago office today. Audit

  320. Anon@ 10:08 – Have you heard of any specifics about KPMG Chicago today? What levels are these layoffs at?

  321. Additional updates from California on PwC and KPMG from confidential source:

    “PwC having a conference call Thursday with future new hires:
    New Hire salary reduced to $49k, my offer was for $52k (fm note: This may be a reaction to losing a recent plea for a summary judgement (throw out case) of Campbell vs. PwC overtime lawsuit in Califiornia. Set to go to trial in July, but does not look good for PwC. May be adjusting salaries downward in anticipation of having to pay overtime to Assiciates soon.) http://www.kcrlegal.com/news/PwC-wage-and-hour-lawsuit.asp

    Annual review rankings changed from a scale of 1-5 to 1-3 with lower performers being let go.
    No raises for people moving into their second or third year at the same position, only for those being promoted
    So far no info about start dates being pushed back

    Also while talking to people have heard that the local KPMG office in Mountain View is making a big audit layoff tomorrow.

    Not 100% on this stuff but this is what I have heard so far. My conference call is scheduled for 10AM Pacific Thursday.”

    Francine

  322. I am hearing from (now former) staff about layoffs at Deloitte in Parsippany NJ. Not sure about numbers, I just know of some people directly affected.

    HR must have decided layoffs were so much fun that, after doing NY last week, they decided to do NJ this week and prolong the party.

  323. KPMG laid off 2 SALT professionals in the Northeast today

  324. I was just laid off this morning. KPMG Dallas- Audit. I was a 1st year that worked probably 6 months. Told it was not performance related. Many 1st and 2nd years are working 100 hour weeks but are only charging 70 while many others remain in the office unassigned. Pretty sure eating hours is frowned upon, yet it was handed down from a big partner in the firm. They just handed out 45 offers to interns this week for next year.

    I believe anywhere from 10-20 people were let go from KPMG Dallas today.

  325. KPMG Layoffs – sorry to hear about your situation and thanks for the update. The good news is that there are plenty of positions in the Dallas market. Don’t sit around too long licking your wound (figuratively speaking), as most people do after experiencing this type of situation. Life goes on, and frankly, public accounting sucks. Have you read Francine’s Huffington Post article re: Big 4 and the mafia. As a 10+ year ex-professional with the Big 4, I can attest that she is correct. Do you know if KPMG tax was impacted?

  326. KPMG NYC and Long Island laid off several Audit Seniors and Associates today, with word that there will more to come tomorrow and Friday. Many had CPA’s and decent ratings.

  327. Anonymous, I agree. The market is still pretty solid in the Metroplex. There are plenty of jobs out there, but I recommend getting on with one or maybe two of the big recruiting firms in Dallas. They’ll be swarmed with inquiries from those laid off, and you want to be on their list ASAP. Good luck.

  328. #324 – I guess it’s a culture in Big 4 to eat hours.

  329. anyone hear about layoffs for partners & managers @ KPMG?

  330. More Advisory layoffs in Charlotte KPMG office. Internal (non-client facing) projects have become a safe harbor for those running from HR.

  331. Partners will probably be going in a different round. Managers and Directors are definitely going out the door at KPMG.

    Eating hours is a challenge. One must perform to budgets. On one hand if the budget was inappropriate then the hours should be recorded so as to point out inappropriate budgeting in the future, have a metric for managers (i.e., that they do not budget well), and reflect inappropriate management. On the other hand — if the staff member is inefficient the issue should be reflected in the staff member’s utilization. Judgement comes into play. KPMG’s business model is to charge 100% of hours… then it will reflect poorly on a manager who does not budget well or manage client expectations well. Further, inefficient staff members will not be asked to work by that manager again and in the long run it will reflect in their utilization. In this way managers are hit short term and staff long term… in theory the issue (bad budgeting/management or inefficient/ineffective quality of work) will ultimately get ironed out. Also, presence at the off or client site is not chargeable — different people categorize their hours as chargeable differently… there is not consistent rule. The model is imperfect, but there is no perfect model.

  332. #328 – it certainly is. Generally coming down from the top. I had direct instructions from partners to complete engagements without incurring any additional hours in the past….or to hit an exact number on the budget regardless of the true cost. that’s life……and I’m sure if you reported that to the ethics lines you’d be on here posting about your layoff experience too once the partners got wind of it.

  333. One thing to keep in mind is to prolong doing your year end evaluations as long as possible. While it is tempting to receive the email from HR that year end evals are due, or you’ve worked 80 hrs on an assignment, and pounce on it ASAP so your compliance scorecard is current, the last thing you want to do is feed HR/partners some timely information that you admit or were evaluated a 3 or 4. Hang in there. This too…shall pass…

  334. The Huffington article – interesting. While worded in the extreme, there is truth to much of it. I believe this is very true about the audit industry – or at least what I have seen of it. I believe that audit is concerned about hours and “checking the box” to say a job is completed, but not with quality of work. This doesn’t help develop the young staff members, and the smart ones leave. But there are a lot of other forces in play here, and one cannot put the blame solely on public auditors. They are playing by the rules, and to the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. Would like to see a bit more spirit out there — real professional skepticism rather than just lip service. The Big 4 seem to cater to egos (staff as well as partner level) rather than focus on delivering quality work. Often they are into the fancy hotel and great travel and drinking — but don’t provide true training and team development. They promote based on years of service rather than merit — and as a result those that hang on longest make partner rather than the top quality performers. This culture is one of don’t rock the boat, do as your told, don’t question things, etc. Staff are not trained to think out of the box or encouraged to raise issues in a constructive format so that the client can be better served. The reasons for being in this situation are much larger than the Big 4 alone… and need to be addressed at that level.

    Not all the practices are like this.

  335. @ex deloitter 8:16 and @Anonymous 3:25

    It’s both bad business and bad ethics to “eat hours”. An excerpt from this post I made in September of 2007 is below.
    http://retheauditors.com/2007/09/ah-youth-the-folly-of-blind-loyalty/

    “…It’s not ok when a firm makes anyone “eat their hours”, that is, not record them to their engagement billing system. It matters whether a client is billed for all hours they should be billed for or not. Your bonus, amongst other things, is dependent on it. It matters whether someone can see that staff are working 90 hours a week to finish a report. The firms can not measure their profitability and, therefore, are cheating everyone if they estimate and charge the client one thing and work substantially more hours to get the job done. Careers and fortunes are made on the numbers and, for an accounting firm, they should be right, inside and out.”

    Francine

  336. #330 – just heard from an Audit colleague in Charlotte who was let go this morning, it was nationwide with several layoffs in MidAtlantic, esp DC/Mclean/Baltimore

  337. 15 audit let go in KPMG’s New Jersey Business Unit today including first years through senior managers. However, it looks like the pain is over. A good source said this is all they expect. Traditionally, the NJ business unit is one of the stronger KPMG offices in the country.

    Long Island office had (unconfirmed) 13-15% of their audit staff shelved. It was a big day for the NY-Metro area.

  338. KPMG Chicago Audit – layoffs 3/18/08

  339. @fm — agreed – but what do you do with an employee that takes 50% longer to do a job than others or a reasonable person would take? What do you do about employees that charge hours just because they can. I’ve seen many jobs where the rule is bill every second because this client can afford it. In all cases, all work performed should be reported as chargeable – the manager need not bill the client for all those hours though. But what mechanism do you use to catch employees who cannot estimate hours or cannot perform the work in a timely manner. Clearly there needs to be a mechanism to either train them, educate them on billing, or terminate them. Similarly, managers who manage that process by requesting they eat the hours should also be educated, taught to manage jobs and budgets appropriately, and potentially terminated. I also know staff members who opt to eat the hours not because they were told, but because they realize they are causing the job to go over budget and they don’t want to cause a problem… or they realize they are inefficient. My experience with audit teams — they bill to the budget not to the work performed — this is not true in other practices and clearly a bad practice. How do you suggest we fix it — when the abuse is from all sides?

  340. @Anonymous 9:00

    You are mixing up the internal time recording/parol, performance measurement system (a cost accounting process) and the billing system to clients. They do not have to be the same. In fact they often aren’t Billing decisions are a contract, client relationship,, business decision. Accurately recording actual time is a legal, time reporting, sometimes a government contract compliance issue, and a budgeting versus actual process that gives you information you need for many different things.

    Read the post I wrote and the comment on Neil’s blog that I link to.

  341. were any people in cfo advisory and CCS cut in sf / bay area?

  342. @fm – no I do understand the difference… I know that hours reported though the time reporting system are not necessarily billed to the client, and that this is appropriate. What I have seen though are staff that report hours simply because they were there, managers who tell people how many hours to record simply because they have a budget, staff who take unusually long periods of time to accomplish a task and just bill for it all even though they should be charging training because they are need to improve their skills, and managers telling people to charge because they are coming in under budget… and way more. All these things are wrong. People need to charge accurate hours, and people need to perform the work in a reasonable period of time (+/- a small tolerance for difference in skill level) that would be expected from a person appropriately skilled for the task. I see the violations from all sides. I believe staff needs to be told that task A should take about x hours if they are efficient and properly skilled — then they add a cushion to that estimate (usually a generous one), and then they need to report any issues as they arise so that the client expectations can be managed. If these things are done – then usually they can charge the hours and they can be billed… but staff that take too long and then surprise the manager cause problems. Managers need to be realistic in budgeting – but staff need to have good goals and good reasons for missing targets.

    The real problem is the nature of billing by the hour and not the job.

    Audit is probably the biggest offender though. Audit teams we support commonly do not care who performs the work (even though rates vary widely), just that the hours are in budget. I have these audit teams tell me the budget rather than tell me what needs to be done and asking me how much should be budgetted. I simply push back — we come in under budget more often than not… and so I tell them it takes what it takes — and give them an appropriate estimate. Further, I push back and tell them when there is no cushion in the budget and that if various things do not go right then we will go over budget. It is a miopic budgetting world in the audit arena. So I do agree there are big issues there. They seem not to care about the quality of the work — just that it is finished and in budgetted hours.

    My KPMG experience — staff are always, always, always told to charge all their hours. When they are not skilled enough to perform within expectations they charge education and management is made aware of this (they are not penalized). Those that never get to performing the job in realistic budgets are generally not asked to do that work anymore — they either find other work in the firm or eventually find other work outside the firm.

  343. Deloitte Dallas AERS let 40 people go this week and Houston expected layoff to be 50. All levels

  344. @Anonymous 10:06

    What you are describing is a management and supervision (and training/coaching) problem not a time reporting problem. It’s manifested in issues around budgets, too much or too little time charged, and eating hours. But that’s the symptom, not the problem itself. The symptoms appear when no one in a position of authority is developing, mentoring and managing tasks like project budgeting, budget vs actual, managing client expectations, scoping, and doing a task as expected. Because no one taught them either. I was shocked at PwC with what I saw was the huge void of these basic project, engagement, and practice management skills. I saw partners who didn’t know how to make sense of the engagement reports and depended on finance admins to do and interpret everything. And staff was left alone, doing work that had been shown how to do by someone only one year or two senior to them.

    It’s a post for another day.

    I was taught all of those skills at KPMG Consulting/Bearing Point by consulting partners and senior managers who were hands-on and great coaches. When we used to bring in audit staff/managers to learn consulting and get some different experience, the cultures and attitudes were dramatically different.

    Having fixed fee projects without those skills amongst staff and management is even worse, believe me.

    Francine

  345. KPMG West – This is an estimate for Fed Tax. Several layoffs in the Seattle and Oregon office. Some laid off in LA. Silicon Valley and SF have reported laid off Fed Tax staff as well. I haven’t heard of managers or sr. managers getting laid off.

  346. KPMG Long Island office – 14 audit layoffs. staff, seniors, managers.

    Also, i’ve the tax department is doing 4 day work week for new hires instead of layoffs.

  347. i’ve heard*

  348. @fm – I completely agree with all of that. I believe the audit practice is indeed upside down and backwards over all those issues… and I see it to a certain extent in my practic area… but we work to fix it. I think there is a huge cultural gap between audit and non-audit practices… I think some non-audit practices are also bad, but not as bad. With >20 years of non-Big 4 experience… I too learned it elsewhere.

  349. hi

  350. I got laid off 3/18/09- Deloitte Philadelphia office senior. I saw several seniors and managers today. From my meetings with HR and a partner today the layoffs throughout the US should be done by this Friday. A few former staff members contacted me today and told me they received HR Schedule meetings today. So I’m assuming its staff today but who knows, it may be staff and sr managers. Either way, atleast anyone who isn’t laid off at Deloitte by Friday is safe until the next round…

  351. referring to my post at 350- Deloitte Audit Practice/Philadelphia/Northeast region
    I also heard that there cuts in Tax last week, approx 5 ppl

  352. KPMG Sillcon valley fed tax 3 staff, one senior

  353. I understand that CA was hit very light in Advisory for KPMG at least partly due to the CA notification/warn laws. I’m curious — does this mean KPMG audit in CA is also being hit more lightly than other regions. Seems like the law is creating inequities if that is the case.

  354. Regarding “eating hours.” It is prohibited at KPMG. Anyone, even audit who is the biggest offender, that is told to do engage in this practice should contact the Ombudsman office regarding the issue so that it can be looked at further and dealt with. No guarantees that this behemoth of a firm will satisfy and resolve the issue but The Big O will check into it and ask some questions, and just maybe, the mgr/SM/Ptnr will refrain from asking staff to do it in the future. It is a bad practice. Bill YOUR TIME – and keep track of what you are doing so you can justify why a task took the time it did, especially if above what was budgeted. If it exceeds the budget why should that matter – they are billing the client a fixed fee (at least for audit) so all it does is screw up the PROJECTED profit of the project – the partner should know how to work with KPrice to allow for a cushion such as this and even if not so they engagement profit is nicked – too bad – they shouldn’t budget so tightly – but they all do. The job is still going to be plenty profitable – the margins are not that tight.

    Just avoid using this tactic: http://www.roblambert.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/billing-code-not-doing-shit.jpg

  355. @353 Anonymous 4:11

    The law in California is creating inequities? So the fact that a law may protect some folks who work in one state from being terminated without warning or cause in the same way that other states allow it feels unfair to you? To whom? The ones getting cut instead of Californians, for example? So you think there may people in other parts of the country who would have kept their job instead of being cut if some of the California people who are not as good as they are were cut?

    The firms are managed geographically. Each office MP and practice partner in a particular locality got a number. Cut. If California can not do it immediately, they will do it some other way, some other time. It has ceased being about any one individual and become about hitting a number in most cases. The inequity is to anyone who wanted to work at a firm, was a good performer, and was either not coached, mentored, trained properly, given meaningful work, or perhaps even known by the local engagement and office leadership.

    Some were cut before even completing a year or two. Where’s the equity in that? 99.9% of those who go to work for the firms are a top students, someone they handpicked, someone who worked their ass off, head down, forsaking most other pleasures in many cases in order to achieve the goal of being selected. They chose you not suddenly, like they are cutting you, but over time, after several internships, interviews and opportunities to measure interest and aptitude.

    Many of you have worked years, overtime and weekends, families and personal lives suffering. For what? You put your faith and your hope in leadership that are required to be stewards not only of their clients’ best interests but of your career and your professional life. Whenever I had to terminate someone for performance, I often felt that I had failed them, not the other way around. It was my job to develop, coach, train, and mentor and manage. But that happens and you run out of time and some become disruptive and self -destructive. I never cut anyone to meet profit numbers or to subsidize any other office or department. I refused. No “layoffs from me in any of the jobs where I was an executive. Not only did we always perform well financially, but I took my role as a steward of people’s professional lives seriously. Can you say the same for your partners?

    That’s the inequity. The partners failed you, just as they have done thousands of times with clients. And they are still working and pursuing their professional goals.

    Life is not fair. Some people you meet will be evil.
    Often there will be no logic. Sometimes there will be no justice.
    Put down the Ayn Rand book. Start living life with eyes open.
    Stop making the mistake of selfishness and self-interest you are seeing your “leaders” make.
    Francine

  356. Any news on D&T ATL??

  357. @356 – In D&T ATL, I know of at least 4 staff/seniors that were let go last week and another 4 ERS staff/sr/mgrs this week. I have a feeling they are just warming up though…

  358. @355 – Francine, can I work for you?? I think partners could learn a great deal from you about caring for their employees!

  359. @anonymous 10:34

    I loved being a Managing Director at KPMG Consulting/BearingPoint (100 people all over Latin America) and an RVP at Jefferson Wells (500 people in the US Midwest.) You’ll see many of those folks still connected to me on Linked In. Unfortunately, that interest and aptitude were not valued at my last employer, PwC. In fact it was dismissed, degraded, and resented. Except for the couple of partners who admitted they should have been working for me…So this is the only way now for me to share my experience with you.

  360. Re 359 – I can still definitely pick up on that bitter tone relative to PwC and Big Four in general. You’d earn even more respect if you focused more objectively on reporting news/concerns and less on feelings (e.g. hours, overload, suffering). We’re all adults – we know what our jobs entails. Almost sounds like perhaps you hold a personal grudge/vendatta against PwC because they didn’t deem you as valauable as you thought you were. Prove them wrong. Not by accosting them. Or berating the other Firms. Make your site the “go to” destination for information. Misery may love company but no one wants to hang around it at the end of the day. Go get a drink on me and tell yourself you are better than what PwC thought of you. And let it go. For good…

  361. @355 – KPMG Forensic is a national practice. The discussion of numbers in regions was a flaoting number discussed across the national leadership. It is not managed regionally.

  362. @datamining@pwc Thanks for the input, but the last thing you need to worry about it is my emotional health. Or my ability to make this blog a a go-to destination.

    Traffic is better than ever, thanks to it being an independent, straight-talking destination for info on the barely covered the accounting industry. You will probably not like my next post if you think I come down too hard on the firms and PwC, in particular. Hide your eyes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  363. some interesting thoughts — perfect leadership who will never fire/layoff? The ability to mentor and develop every single new hire? The ability to accurately interview and make hire decisions on 100% of the candidates? The ability of every single new hire to live up to the demands of the job? That is never never land. The world is unfair — we do our best to make it the best place it can be. But fire/layoff decisions are at times necessary and appropriate. I do not say this lightly or from a perspective of someone who has never experienced it… thank God my last company let me go.

  364. @Anonymous 11:49

    Never said I never terminated anyone. For poor performance, yes, after fair warning, proper documentation and whatever efforts me or my managers needed to make to correct unproductive activities and support achievement of objectives. On the contrary, I set very high standards. I was at times criticized for expecting too much. But lack of business is a sales problem not a problem that should be balanced on the backs of the delivery professionals. How could there not be more than enough work for the accounting firms and then some. The firms have a planning/forecasting problem and a resource allocation problem, to a large extent based on the management of the firms, incentive-wise, based on geography. Compete, sell all you can then sell more. But don’t sell what you can’t deliver. Without enough good people you’re asking for trouble.

  365. From an anonymous source:

    PwC US Partners & Staff
    cc
    Subject
    Our people strategy and our class of 2009 new hires

    Dennis recently wrote to us in Our Firm to share his observations on
    the current economic environment and what this means for PwC and for
    each of us. He explained our initial thinking on our compensation
    approach and how we are addressing the short-term realities of the
    downturn while keeping our long-term focus on retaining the talent we
    need to grow when the economy turns around.

    As Dennis discussed, we will likely hold salaries flat for the coming
    compensation cycle except for promotees, and we will continue our
    bonus programs to motivate and compensate our highest performers. In
    addition, to share the rewards of our efforts with all of our people,
    we are looking toward developing some form of profit sharing that
    would be paid out should we achieve certain financial performance
    targets for the coming year.

    As we think about our compensation strategy for our current staff, we
    are also considering how we should compensate our incoming class of
    new associates. I want to share our plans for our new campus hires so
    you can understand the big picture view we are taking and the efforts
    we are making to be fair everyone.

    In developing our compensation strategy, we are balancing a number of
    considerations. We know that we need to manage our costs and that we
    cannot expect to pass on additional costs to our clients. We believe
    that the current economic conditions are having an impact on the
    starting salaries that students can expect this year. We need to make
    sure our overall compensation approach is competitive and that our
    salaries fairly reflect the difference in value between our current
    staff and those who are just joining us. To do the right thing, we
    want to honor the commitments we have made, and upon which individuals
    have made decisions to join our Firm. We also want to be sure that our
    strategy reflects our desire for fairness and our feeling that we are
    all in this together.

    We have weighed all of these factors and are beginning to share our
    approach with our student contacts on campus, including those who have
    already accepted offers and will be joining us later this year. Let
    me explain what we are communicating to each of these groups.
    For those students who have already accepted offers to join PwC this
    year, we are reinforcing our commitment to our offer of employment and
    to honoring the total compensation that we communicated for the
    2009/10 compensation cycle. We are also sharing our plans to
    rebalance their compensation to reflect a lower base salary, with
    additional “commitment” payments to reach the total compensation that
    we originally offered. Our approach reflects our desire to honor our
    outstanding commitments, yet adjust salaries to fairly reflect the
    differences in value between our current staff and those who are just
    joining us.
    For our winter interns who are just wrapping up their time with us, we
    are extending offers to those we think have the right attributes for
    success at PwC, but are not communicating a salary amount as of yet.
    We are letting these interns know that we are committed to providing
    compensation that is highly competitive in our profession and that we
    will confirm their salary offer once we have a better understanding of
    the impact of the downturn in each market.
    As we look ahead to our incoming summer interns and others who we will
    be recruiting for the class of 2010, we expect that starting salaries
    will be lower and that we will set and communicate those compensation
    levels once we complete our market studies.

    These are not easy messages — and putting ourselves in the shoes of
    these future PwC professionals, we can expect some concern that
    starting salaries will be lower than in past years. At the same time,
    we believe PwC is offering an experience that is different, especially
    when we look at what is happening around us, with so many
    organizations, including our competitors, cutting staff and rescinding
    offers. We also want to help our new hires and recruits to
    understand our focus on the long-term, and on making the right
    decisions to maintain PwC’s solid, stable position so that all of us
    may grow and prosper together when the economic climate improves.

    As we communicate to students, we expect they may come back to many of
    you for your advice and perspective, based on the relationships that
    you have already begun to build. This note provides you with the key
    points we are communicating, but I would ask you to direct any
    specific questions that students may have to the Firm Relationship
    Partner or recruiter for their school as they are closest to the
    details of our approach.

    The key point we want to share with them and with all of you, is that
    we are working hard to strike the right balance in this environment.
    We want to honor our commitments yet position ourselves to be fair and
    equitable to all of our people, especially over the long term. We also
    want to recognize the value of our people and remain competitive in
    the market for talent, while making choices that help us navigate
    successfully through this challenging environment. We are confident
    in our strategy and committed to attracting and retaining high
    performing people who will help us to gain market share today and
    accelerate growth as we come out of the downturn better positioned
    than our competitors.

    Regards,

    Scott Duncan
    US Human Capital Leader

    Francine

  366. Anony@363,

    Your points don’t seemt o have much to do with Fran’s actual post. Did you miss this part: “Life is not fair. Some people you meet will be evil.
    Often there will be no logic. Sometimes there will be no justice.” I sense a need for Immediate Improvement in Attention to Detail. Consider this your performance feedback.

    From my point of view, the real tragedy is that the Big 4 firms have been heads-and-shoulders above their corporate clients in terms of caliber of personnel, training, and ability to get things done. Fran is correct that the Firms have been cherry-picking the best and the brightest for, literally, decades and, as a result, have a personnel corps that’s second to none.

    So what do they do with such a platform? Do they use it do to great things, things the corporate clients can only dream of doing? Do they undertake significant reforms in the name of integrity or even process improvement? No. They play political games. They focus on self-interest and greed. They throw folks to the wolves in order to protect their incomes. In essence, they take their children and teach them swimming theory, and then throw them in the deep end of the pool to see who swims. Those that sink, sink. Those that swim, get promoted to an even deeper and rougher pool to see what happens. Repeat until partnership, which is when you get to start throwing other people in the pool.

    And in today’s environment, the Firms take an arbitrary percentage of those otherwise successful swimmers, and lift them out of the pool, and send them packing. All in the name of managing a “for-profit business.”

    That ain’t managing as I understand the term. That’s throwing people to the wolves and sacrificing the future of the firm to maintain current position and income. Sure times are tough — so improvise, adapt and overcome. And get rid of the leaders who put you in this tenuous position. Don’t make the employees pay for leadership’s inability to plan, forecast, and (dare i say) lead.

    Sacrificing the otherwise successful swimmers is a fool’s move, as I see it.

    — Tenacious T.

  367. This eating hours debate isn’t going to get solved until accountability (omigosh, accountability in an accounting firm?) is a core value.

    Accountability means owning up to both the good and the bad. You were overbudget? No, that is bad. Did you track it accordingly so we can justify a rise in budget next year? Yes, thats good. But do you have an incentive to do either… no!

    Everybody knows in the long-term eating time damages the firm. You have a downward spiral, and you’re only hitting yourself. But when compensation is paid out at YE, with the partnership (read: up or out) model, long-term is someone elses problem. You want your money, promotion, recognition before you leave the firm.

    Somebody sells the engagement for $100. To make a profit, the engagement must be done for $80. The manager gets that, builds in a little “safety” / “looks good for my numbers” bucket of $20. The senior sees $60, panics, but doesnt pipe up… because his peer in the same office, let alone one across the country, says “I can do it for $50″.

    It shouldnt be on the staff to make the budget. But if you dont make the manager look good, the staff doesnt get a good rating. The staff that bills to the budget gets promoted.

    I’m not sure if its fair to put the responsibility on the manager either. They didnt necessarily sell the the project on an underestimated budget.

    But when your compensation is paid at YE.. who cares if you eat a little time to make your bonus / promotion? Its not your problem next year… You rise in seniority, and you tell your junior “its your problem now”

    Like executive compensation, the system shouldn’t reward short-term results that is gained from sacrifice long-term position.

  368. @365 “For those students who have already accepted offers to join PwC this year, we are reinforcing our commitment to our offer of employment and to honoring the total compensation that we communicated … with so many organizations, including our competitors, cutting staff and rescinding offers.”

    PwC is a fantastic firm that is incredibly transparent in their communications to staff and future staff. PwC said that they encourage us to share the details of the conference call with our friends and family. I am very glad that I accepted with PwC. No worrying about what’s going to happen with my offer. I do not think any less of PwC as a result of the change in compensation. Working and learning with the firm is really the compensation that I set out to achieve when I underwent college recruiting. PwC was extremely quick to set up a conference call with major leaders of the firm. I can now rest easy knowing that I am going to be joining an incredibly honest and trustworthy firm.

  369. New Hire @ 360.

    I’m glad that you’re glad you’re joining PwC. Any of the Big 4 firms are truly great places to start one’s career. Make sure to take advantage of every opportunity to learn and build your skillset. Networking is also a big key to success, both in a Big 4 firm and outside as well.

    I’m curious by your two statements — (1) “honoring the total compensation that we communicated” versus (2) “I do not think any less of PwC as a result of the change in compensation”. Can you help us to understand how to reconcile those two statements, particularly in light of your subsequent statement regarding the firm’s honesty and trustworthiness?

    Undoubtedly, PwC is in a strong position (perhaps the strongest?) to honor its prior commitments to new hires. I don’t want to rain on your parade … but you might want to consider, however briefly, that staff reductions have taken place prior to your offer letter (see previous posts on this blog), which contributed to putting PwC in the position it’s currently in to take you and others into the practices.

    Also (and you’ll learn this real soon), there is a significant difference between a reassuring phone call with “major leaders of the firm” and leaping to the conclusion that you’re “joining an incredibly honest and trustworthy firm.” First of all, the integrity of the firm will be proven not only by honoring their employment offer to you (and others), but also through many other promises they will need to keep throughout your career. The call was an indication (but NOT proof) that they’ll honor promise #1 but there will need to be a number of other promises kept in order to meet your description, I should think.

    Second (and you’ll learn too, real soon), there ain’t no “firm” as you have been led to believe. There is only a collection of people, some partners with varying degrees of influence over your working conditions, and others just being employees of the firm, same as you. Fran has made this point often and so have I but it bears repeating …. your primary satisfaction and morale will be driven by your local partner(s) and by your co-workers. What happens in an office in Timbuktu or Outer Mongolia or to Tax if you’re Audit or to Audit if you’re Advisory will have almost no effect on you whatsoever. I’m not dissing PwC or any other firm; I just want to you start to appreciate the reality of the situation versus what you’ve been led to believe.

    It won’t be all good, but it can be good for you. I wish you the best.

    — Tenacious T.

  370. NewHire sounds like a PwC HR Troll.

  371. New Hire@368

    I can tell that you are a New Hire. I’m sorry, but I’m sure everyone else was thinking it. I work for a D&T so I can only speak for them. I was once like you as well…young, innocent, and naive. However, the more I work here the more I see how things really are. It’s not just about the salary cuts/freezes or the layoffs. It’s the fact that if partners even have the slightest fear that their salary will decrease from $750K to $700K they go on a firing spree leaving the rest of us here working 60 hour weeks in May because we have to finish their work. The fact is, there is still the same amount of work to be done. We had such a shortage of seniors this year in my office that managers were senioring jobs. Yet we just laid off at least 5 seniors last week and there is probably more to come. That is how public accounting firms really work….more work, less people, more hours. I am sorry to rain on your parade, but give yourself a couple of years and you will see what I mean.

    I will five PwC credit though. At least they are somewhat communicating their plan to their employees. D&T keeps everyone in the dark and then uses the phrase “he/she left” instead of what really happened. I am pretty sure they think we are a bunch of idiots who can’t figure out for ourselves what is really going on.

  372. The memo from PwC is pretty interesting. I’m not sure as a new hire that I would be willing to accept an offer that didn’t come with a specific salary number, only a promise to provide “compensation that is highly competitive in our profession.” WTF does that mean, especially in this environment? However, I will give PwC points for being open and honest about what is going on, which is a far cry from KPMG where for the most part there was no discussion of what was going on, no mention that layoffs are even being considered, and after the ax falls no acknowledgment that anything ever happened. It demoralizes everyone and leads to one heck of a rumor mill.

    As a blogger myself, if Francine wants to be biased in her coverage I say more power to her. While I think coverage of the Big 4 is often negative here, it is only a reflection of the current state of the industry and the wholesale mismanagement of the firms. If you want a blog reflecting the kool-aid drinking views of the Big 4, start your own blog. Chances are it won’t get much traffic as it will be completely obvious such a blog would have no basis in reality. It is the perogative of every blogger to give whatever opinions he or she wants on his or her blog.

  373. let get more north east offices layoffs and rumors going here, specfically, the New York audit practice…Where are the people that recently got laid off….shed some light….I know your reading these blogs

  374. Any word on Transaction Services? Has that been hit with layoffs at all?

  375. KPMG: Five layoffs in Chicago’s Corp. FedTax department today. Three 1st years and two seniors assocs.

  376. @372…correct you are – only communication came (for me at least) from office partner – no national acknowledgment that RIFs were going down. Do i need to hear it from Pfau or Flynn or Taylor…not necessarily – they don’t know me from a fly on the wall – so i value hearing it from my partner more but there should be a firmwide statement…hell even the CEOs at large large companies make those announcements (see Viki Pandit, K Lewis, and on and on).

  377. ohh New Hire…I am sorry for you….I worked at PwC in HR for many many years…I am no longer there, and I can only tell you that if they don’t need you anymore, they will drop you like a bad habit without ONE iota of consideration…I have sat in meeting with partners where decisions are made and they don’t flinch about making decisions..it is all about their bottom line…don’t be naive…I am not saying that PwC isn’t a great place to start your career..it is, and it will help you for the rest of your working life…I woulnd’t take back my experience for anything…but please please just go in with your eyes wide open…these people do not care about you as an individual, it is all about lining their pockets…PwC is the only firm where the partners take all the profits and divide them up amoung themselves…every other firm they put $ back into it first, THEN divy up the profits…these partners are the most selfish and greedy of the lot….but I also have to say, probably the most talented…

  378. fm @365 — What I get from the PwC letter is that there are no raises this year unless you’re promoted. But obviously 2nd & 3rd year staff are more valuable than the incoming new hires, so to recognize that difference, the new hire salaries are being dropped. So a comparison between new hires and experienced staff will show that experienced staff receive higher salary compensation. To equalize the new hire’s expectations with their new (lower) salary compensation level, additional “commitment” payments (time-phased signing bonuses?) will be made. High-performing experienced staff will be eligibe for some amount of bonus payments as well, but there’s no info regarding how much.

    So, if you’re at PwC now, here’s how it may work.

    If you get rated a 3, you’re out.
    If you get rated a 2, you get no bonus and you get no raise. But you get to keep your job. Hooray!
    If you get rated a 1, you get some bonus but no raise, unless you’re promoted, in which case you get a raise as well.

    “Welcome to the working week. I know it don’t thrill you; I hope it don’t kill you.” — Elvis

    — Tenacious T.

  379. Team,

    As we work together with US Firm leadership to assess the impact of the rapidly changing economy, LOS leadership teams have been examining how we can meet our strategic objectives on a One Firm basis in a way that is both responsive to this environment and also supports our longer-term business priorities. As a firm, we remain committed to delivering a PwC Experience for our clients and our people while managing our costs prudently. Therefore, the Line of Service leaders have agreed to cancel our Assurance Sector conferences, Tax conferences, and Advisory University, and re-think how each of our practices can deliver our L&E this year in alternative formats to help us continue to reduce costs for the Firm.

    While there has always been a lot of value in bringing the teams together for our Sector conferences, this decision presents us with an interesting opportunity to look at our course offerings, alternative learning scenarios and delivery methods for our critical learning & education programs. Our Sector and L&E leadership is currently working together to develop an alternative plan that delivers both the CPE requirements and networking benefits of our Sector conferences, allowing our Sector teams to connect around the key issues that are critical to our success in the market. You will be hearing more from your Sector leaders as soon as plans are finalized, and we anticipate that we will hold this training in the August/September timeframe.

    Our learning activities remain critical for investing in your career development and growing our practice. Please stay tuned for more detailed information regarding the alternatives to our Sector conferences this year.

    As always, thank you for your support.

    /s/ Robert Moritz

  380. Chicago Tax and Audit are supposed to complete their layoffs today. 2 (or possibly 3) associates released from ICS.

  381. what a depressing blog..
    life totally sux for college grads as well. I mean, we all celebrated our offers from BIG 4 and now we cant sleep at night because nobody knows how many of us will actually get to start working at one of the big 4 companies…
    can someone help me with an advice… what is the safest practice within audit for now (real estate, insurance, banking, mutual funds) to start with? and regardign the size of the client???
    In addition to that, what qualities do the 1st yrs’ need to possess to actually stay in the company not to get laid off?

  382. 381….welcome to the real world pal. Things are bad but buck up – you have your whole career ahead of you. It just may not start on time…

    Better to have never had a job than to have had one and have your tuckus thrown out to the curb.

  383. 281 – one word. kneepads.

  384. RE 381 – As a first year, the old adage is true. Being bisexual instantly doubles your chances of a date on a Friday night. Don’t be too narrow minded. Then both male bathroom tapping partners and HR ladies will want to keep you around.

  385. Any word about the big 4 rescinding deferral offers where the firm has agreed to pay for a master’s degree?

  386. Anonymous@381.

    The safest practice is the one with the strongest companies. Just take a look at the various industries tracked in the equity markets … you’ll figure it out.

    To not get fired, do several things.

    1. Do a good job. Seek to learn as much as possble about *why* you’re doing what you’re doing. Check your work before you submit it for review. Avoid stupid errors. Avoid grammatical and spelling errors.
    2. Meet budget and schedule commitments. If you cannot, tell your supervisor about your problems early, not after the deadline’s passed.
    3. Get along with people but don’t share overmuch. Don’t be somebody that everybody talks about.
    4. Stay fit and look your best.
    5. Make sure you build relationships vertically as well as hortizontally. Make your supervisor your friend. Make sure the manager and Sr. Manager know your name. Shake hands with the partner; have a firm grip and a warm smile when you do so.
    6. Offer to help others out as much as possible.
    7. Stay highly utilized and make sure you work efficiently. Don’t IM or surf the net overmuch.
    8. Work hard to get good performance reviews. Figure out what it takes early and then deliver it.
    9. Follow Firm policy and procedures. Don’t be a compliance risk.
    10. Let everybody know how your CPA is coming. Don’t delay going after your CPA.
    11. In a nutshell: Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to get ahead in the Firm, son.

    — Tenacious T.

  387. @ 369 (Tenacious T): You have it pretty much right in your 378 post minus the rating system which I have no say or knowledge on. Thanks for the advice. BTW, do you listen to Tenacious D?

    @ 370 Anonymous “NewHire sounds like a PwC HR Troll.” Huh? No, I am a college student. I sound like a college student who is excited about starting their career in accounting. Trolls are fairy tale creatures from Norse mythology. It’s okay, I used to believe my Dad when he told me about trolls too.

    @ 372 I’m not really sure where that memo came from. I’m a new hire and didn’t receive it. Yet, it covers the same topics that the conference call did. They were explicitly detailed about compensation on the call. In terms of blogging,

    @ 377 formerPwCHR – What you described is business, not just accounting firms. I would be worried if a business wasn’t in it to improve their bottom line. Also, it is a Partner’s job not to flinch when firing. It’s leadership. That’s why they are partners. I don’t expect my feelings to ever be taken into account when it comes to business. Being a future auditor, I can only hope that I act in a similar fashion–that is what being independent is all about. If Cynthia Cooper had not reported fraud due to the fact that she felt sympathy for her boss, then perhaps the fraud would have continued. Auditors should be unbiased when it comes to the numbers–just like an honest business.

  388. @ 381 – Pass your CPA exams as fast as you can.

  389. Yes, best thing you can do early on.

    If you interned and are starting FT, re-connect as much as you can with the teams and projects that you worked with as an intern.

    If you did not intern….realize that you will be way behind those who did intern as far as establishing a network, getting chargeable hours, quality experience that you can build on, etc. You’re going to have to work way harder to meet people, learn quickly, etc. If you’re in a situation where this is your first real experience with actual accounting work—it will probably be a hard road ahead.

    How I read today’s e-mail:
    With the full-timers who have pre-existing offers and salary amounts, what they seem to be planning is to pay the same dollar amount of compensation “over time.” Basically, they will restructure salaries to where you aren’t getting the same amount each month, but will eventually get the same amount over a certain period—“making up for it later.” Works out good for them too because I’m sure they’ll do it in a way so that they save thousands each year on the people who don’t make it long term.

  390. New Hire @ 387, regarding your question.

    Yes, the Complete Masterworks are on my iPod. The movie sucked, though.

    — Tenacious T., not the Pick of Destiny in any way, shape or form

  391. Does anyone really think PwC Leaders care if you have your CPA when it comes to lay offs? Let’s say there are two seniors – same rating – one is without a CPA. Big deal?

    Thanks.

  392. @387 (NewHire) — you have a good head on your shoulders. You got it right. It is just business and wherever you go (Big 4 or not) will have similar if not the same issues. Stay at a firm as long as you are growing as a person and a professional – then move on to the next place that offers you growth.

    @387 excepted — be aware that the Big 4 say how they pick the best and the brightest… not my experience at all. The young talent in recent years is in it for the ego boost and don’t want anyone to manage them because they tend to think they know it all. Remember, you are fresh out of college. Those with experience have learned something simply from being on the planet longer. You cannot learn what they know in one or two years. Be patient, learn and learn some more. There is no room for the attitude that so many have… and the Big 4 feed that attitude by telling them how they are the best (don’t you think every company thinks they are hiring the best) and by making the recruiting process a pitch as though the firm needs to entice and convince the college grad to join them. Face it, it is a job, you are young… join because you want to grow and learn not because they gave you the best steak dinner and sent you on a trip to Vegas. Go to work for the opportunities and experience… not the lavish travel, the fancy dinners, the expensive wine, the pay, the status. Cause now, many seem to be upset cause they are losing those perks that sooth their egos and maybe it is because they weren’t in it for the right reasons from the start.

  393. NewHire – Im sorry but you are a NIAVE college student who is excited about something you will grow to dispise about 6 months in. My advice, enjoy your life right now. Joining PwC will suck you dry until you leave after 2 yrs.

  394. New Hire – You should post here in about a year and tell us about your excitement level at that point.

  395. I heard from a somewhat reliable source that PwC is thinking of innovative ways to get though the summer. Including allowing employees to go on a paid sabbatical where they may receieve 1/4 of their original pay and not come to work for three months. Or encouraging flexible work arrangements of 75%. etc. Supposedly they want to be the only firm that doesn’t do layoffs. If they keep their word maybe they won’t be #5 of 7 on PAR’s Professor’s Survery for Ethics.

  396. 387 new hire–you most DEFINITELY ARE a troll (even if you’re not HR, who are also, troll-like, no names, no names….)–or about to become one soon (this is assuming the firm actually still has big clients). let’s just say you’ll be sitting in a dungeon “war room” never to feel the light of day for your first year, except of course for the light that might pass through the glass windows from time to time (umm..i believe trolls are known to scowl when hit with light–NATURAL daylight, that is). yeah first years are usually the first to get corralled into a war room–your senior will avoid it until unavoidable (meaning forced to sit in the room to watch over you newbies by the manager or director). and perhaps if you are lucky enough to have a micro-managing manager, he or she will join you in the war room and, btw, will most likely take ALL of his/her calls on speakerphone, umm to, you know, show their importance and level on the totem pole…

    yeah business is business and the business model of pwc is that if you aren’t a partner, you are ABSOLUTELY 100% DISPENSIBLE. it doesn’t matter if you met or exceeded the 2,100/year billable hour goal they’ve established for you @ your (what is it now?) associate $175/hour billing rate. future cpa’er, do the math–how much of that do you really think you’ll see? and i’m POSITIVE they stopped giving out the “spot” performance bonuses–a $500 amex gift card that they’ll tax at 50% your next paycheck (yeah WTF a bonus and your next paycheck actually DECREASES?? thanks but no thanks for your show of appreciation!). the partners are dropping their gold/platinum amex cards at fancy pants restaurants like china grill (a pwc favorite) or ocean club off of your blood, sweat and tears (and i mean this literally–you’ll be bleeding from all the paper cuts making copy after copy for binder after binder). and yeah, you may get a free lunch at one of these swanky hautes if, say, you spent the last 52 hours STRAIGHT in the office toiling for them. and yeah, that lunch will be IMMEDIATELY following the 52 hours you just gave–so it will be at least 55 hours in total (yep that’s right a 3 hour lunch consisting of lip-puckering and ass kissing) you’ll have spent with your co-workers (here’s to hoping one of the bunch is actually tolerable) before you’re able to go home to shit, shower and shave to be back the office the following morning, which will, of course, be expected of you. if you really want to know what is expected for you to succeed your first year, here’s a list:

    in NYC advisory:

    1. know how to work a xerox machine and more importantly, how to unjam a xerox machine;
    2. know where to get (and by “get” i mean steal from a senior associate–cuz it’s not leaving their death grip paws even if you ask to “borrow” it) or invest in a great heavy duty 3-hole puncher;
    3. know where you can find binder tabs–here’s a hint: 22nd floor at 300 Madison;
    4. be able to make a binder that is neat and well-organized–meaning the pages are all hole punched in one uniform place–this means left side of the page, words facing UP, as if you’re actually going to read the document–you won’t–remember there are 4 levels above you so you probably won’t be first in line selected to READ or INTERPRET anything (and, um, yeah surprisingly your $30k/year undergrad education failed to prepare you for the task of binder-making but, first years are notorious for making shitty and unsightly binders)
    5. have menupages.com in your browser favorites (as you most likely be in charge of printing out the menus for your teammates, as well as placing and retrieving the late night dinner order for your entire team) ; AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…..
    5. ass-kiss like there’s no tomorrow and maybe, just MAYBE, if you’ve first mastered the art of making pretty binders, you can one day make a spreadsheet for your senior.

    in NYC audit:
    1. have a stack of sharpened red pencils (i believe they still provide red lead for the mechanical pencils if you’re so inclined and again a hint: 22nd floor 300 Madison);
    2. master making the √ sign (auditors HATE when you can’t make a √ properly!);
    3. know where the free food is going to be (lunch and dinner)–cuz that’s about the only perk you’ll get in audit (their billing rates and engagements don’t really allow for the fancy team lunches and dinners like in advisory); AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…..
    5. ass-kiss like there’s no tomorrow and maybe, just MAYBE, you’ll be given the opportunity to criticize some other newbie’s √ marks.

    oh yeah, one last thing…if for some reason the ax falls and you actually don’t make it past your 1st year there, please don’t be an IDIOT and send out a MASS email indicating your untimely departure, while providing your personal contact info (ex. MORON#1@yahoo.com) cuz, umm, hate to break it to you but they didn’t really care for your ass in the first place (thus the “layoff” or “coaching out” or whatever the f*** they’re calling it…) so, umm yeah, they’re not actually going to use the info contained in your email other than to laugh at your dumb ass while making a starbucks run.

  397. Former NYCPWCer, just wanted to mention that you (understandably) have taken venting to a whole new plateau!!

  398. @396 – Amen on the 3-hole punch!

  399. Just curious about the angry people – where did your Big 4 experience end up leading you in your career? No need to provide details that might ruin your anonymity, but general title and industry or something.

  400. @396, u r so funny. I laughed my butt off. Seriously. I am gonna copy your vent on my blog and spread it around if u don’t mind.

  401. @396, I laughed so hard that my family thought I was having a seizure. Thanks for that. You made my night.

    I started in tax more than 10 years ago with AA and can attest that I spent my first year at the copy machine making copies of tax returns, paging tax returns, and double stapling tax returns. My other duties included making files for seniors to do work. And yes, I ordered dinner every night. Took everyone’s orders. Until you reminded me (in such a funny way), I had forgotten.

    You are absolutely right about the importance of removing a jam at a copy machine. Otherwise, people wonder why it took you so long to copy 100 million pages of junk and start making comments about your capabilities. Oh, the importance of mastering the art of making copies.

    Some days, I got so hot from spending all morning (or afternoon) in the little copy room in my suit that I sweated profusely and kinda stunk.

    Have you thought about being a comedian?

    @397, your sarcastic comment only made me laugh harder.

  402. No one on this blog has yet to contest the importance of ass kissing. I venture to draw the conclusion that ass kissing is extremely important. Could someone provide a list of ass kissing “how to’s”? I would be interested in hearing from 396 — straight talk and hilarious.

  403. New Hire – CFO of a VC. My experience taught me nothing except what I do not care for in a job. Good Luck.

  404. oh yeah, sorry one more thing for newbie, when creating your index of documents for your binder (which will most likely be done in excel not word which is the standard program for most all documents created in advisory), don’t hard code your numbers like i did on my post 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5. use the =1+[cell # above] formula to auto update and avoid my error–don’t worry you’ll get what i’m saying once you’ve started working–or else you will most definitely get slammed in your pff! LOL

  405. New Hire @ 368

    Whether you think Pwc is honest and trustworthy does not matter much without stepping into the office on day 1 of work. I’m not trying to say that in general your opinion doesn’t matter, because everyone has a right to their own opinion. What I’m trying to say is that people that have several years experience at Big 4s that made the 367 posts prior to yours have some idea what they are talking about. My experience was with KPMG, not Pwc, but after reading through all the posts it seems that all the firms act pretty similarly anyway. Did you have an internship at Pwc as well? If you did, be sure to look past any possible social events and wining and dining you may have done. It’s for recruiting, as others have mentioned. You also mentioned the learning experiences are enough for you. Hopefully they will give you those learning experiences. Not everyone gets them. Sure, everyone has some firmwide training, but I don’t think anyone can honestly say they learn everything they need to know from their firmwide training. Most of the real training occurs on the job. If you interned and know people as you start as a new hire, those opportunities will be more accessible to you since they won’t have to teach you something from scratch and they know you. If you’re not getting those opportunities, it’s because they don’t really care to give them to you. Let me clarify. If you’re not getting those opportunities, it’s not because they don’t care to give them to you, it’s because they care more to give them to someone else.

    That all being said, someone else mentioned previously that it’s not the “firm” but it’s the people within the firm. They may make your experience good or bad. I met some great people at KPMG. I met most of them on one client under circumstances we never thought we would meet. About half were from different offices than me. I worked hard, networked, and got along with nearly everyone on the engagement from staff to partner. In the end, this engagement accounted for about 1.5 of my 2.5 years. Other than the great engagement reviews from my senior, complements and honest comments from other team members regarding how much they thought of me, and the opportunity to network with people from other offices, and groups within our own office that had no control over the direction of my career, nothing much came out of it. I had a few learning opportunities, but those opportunities weren’t that helpful once I was done on that client. That wasn’t going to cut it as I tried to prepare myself to be promoted to senior during those 1.5 years.

    I can look in the mirror and say to myself that there’s some things I may have been able to do better. I can also look in the mirror and say that had I been provided equal learning opportunities as others at my level, I would have done better and wouldn’t be posting on this blog right now.

  406. Deloitte Regulatory and Capital Markets now being hit. Ouch!

  407. So much anger and very little (but some) taking responsibility for oneself. New hires are new, and regardless of all the education they have — they know very little. Day one at the job, remember you really know nothing. The fact that an experienced staff member feels the Excel formula of cell+1 is a learning experience –> amazing. That is incredibly basic and one should actually have a clue on that before even getting to day one. I agree that college hires should not be used on the copy machine, they should be doing substantive work and being taught/mentored/guided on how to do that. And I agree that KPMG (at likely the other Big 4) really use new hires for very trivial work that should be done by an admin or paraprofessional. But the attitude so many new hires have of thinking they know it all and getting huffy and annoyed if a manager asks them a question or wants to review their work… surely one might put themselves in someone else’s shoes for a minute or two and help make the process go smoother. Let @newhire take a stab at the world and be a little encouraging. To the person who talked about some getting more opportunity than others — yes it is true. A lot of that is not about asskissing, but about being a team player. KPMG usually fails to create effective teams, but at times it happens — when it does, jump on it… better yet, go make a real team of your own. How do you make a team — carve out a niche, become very good at something — then as you get more work (and more than you can handle), train others and start handing them some work… oh no – that might just make you a manager.

    The youth of the world seems to feel that things should be given to them, that inequities in what various people get is due to others’ asskissing or playing favorites, and that they are the victim of this injustice. Take personal responsibility. You cannot move ahead as a person or a professional without jumping in head first and working with the culture/system you have selected to join. If it doesn’t suit you – move on, otherwise – stop whining.

  408. As a somewhat recent new hire who is going through my first “busy” season, I can say that the firmwide training was not very relevant. Our office had a local training before busy season that was very good, and dealt with the nuts and bolts of what associates do each day, but the other trainings, especially the new hire trainings that they used to do at the compound, weren’t very practical at all. This is coming from tax, audit may be excellent, I have no idea.

  409. Response to 407: I can confirm that PWC treats a lot of new hires the same way you mention—of the chargeable work I was able to get during the first six months here, the vast majority of it was putting together binders, scanning, etc. I have no problem doing that kind of work, especially if it leads to better work later. With busy season going on, I’m actually happy to do something trivial—I find it sort of relaxing.

    The situation I ran into was that once busy season rolled around, I was expected to operate at the same level as new hires who had done numerous internships, worked busy season before, etc., and my work experience at PWC up to that point had consisted of scanning and copying. So of course I did not perform very well, and soon I had trouble finding work. Now I’m most likely on the chopping block, but I feel that I really was not given enough of a chance to learn.

    Gotta go…have to see if anyone needs any documents scanned.

  410. @newhire – you need to find a blog where the people are not so angry. Most posters here clearly are not a good fit for a Big 4 culture. There are people who are a good fit for it and you might be one of them. Just because they aren’t a good fit doesn’t make them bad, but nor does it make the Big 4 bad. There are imperfections in absolutely every firm and every type of job out there. You will have many jobs in your life – some better than others. Give each an honest try and do you best — make judgements on where you want to be in your life without judging the firm. If you want to be at that firm, stay — otherwise move to the next place. If the Big 4 do not provide enough value to society in a way you think is positive (e.g., you want to make the world greener or help people in some other way) – then you don’t belong there. Don’t let these people stop you from giving PwC or any other company an honest try – make up your own mind. Afterall, it is your life.

  411. Face it people — it’s a job. That’s all it is – a job. What do you expect your job to give you. If I could make $25-30/hour doing that — sounds like a pretty easy way to make good money. If on the side I could manage to do some other things and start learning more — even better.

  412. @396 — thought there was no profanity allowed…

  413. @412 Thanks. My eyes are a little blurry from all the comment posting. Not complaining…
    I will allow “ass.”
    Comment allowed with additional edit for other word. (I don’t usually edit, just accept or reject, but I will make an exception in this case as long as #396 doesn’t mind. If you’d rather revise yourself or not post without that word, let me know. fmckenna@mckennapartners.com)

  414. @410-people who are angry have their legitimate reasons. Unfit or not is totally depends on the side you take, employor or employee.
    @Newhire-go ahead and try it; you don’t have too many options right now.
    You may have a better experience or luck than the socalled “unfits.”
    Remember, work hard, take almost no time off, pass the CPA, kiss A**, volunteer for all things even you don’t like
    You will survive.

  415. the word fit — it means to find a place/niche where you belong… it is not about being good or bad (as unfit may imply). If you are interested in accounting and take a job as an electrical engineer — you might be good at the engineering but you don’t fit there because it isn’t your style/interest. Believe it or not — there are some people who like working 24/7… makes them feel important and needed.

  416. I’m guessing a lot of these people at least started out as a “good fit,” especially the ones who were promoted at some point in their careers. You don’t make it more than a couple of years if you’re not a good fit, and these aren’t all associates that are being cut.

    I submitted my “utilization plan” to be included as part of the review process. We’ll see what happens.

  417. Been angry many times in my life — sometimes for legitimate reasons. Usually the anger crowds out one’s ability to see their own contribution to the situation that caused the anger. It is healty to see both these things.

  418. Response #409 is exactly on point… PwC gives you no meaningful work whatsoever the first few months with the firm, then when you finally get your opportunity, you have no idea what you’re doing and they “throw you to the wolves” so to speak.

    I equate the experience of getting a job with the BIG 4 to that of a suave guy seducing a pretty girl.

    Guy Seducing Girl:
    Conspicously shows off his good looks, money, and flashy toys such as fancy car and buys her lavish dinners. Tells her she’s “the one”. Calls her often telling her how great she is and frequently showers her with unexpected gifts.

    Then once he gets her into bed he follows up by wanting nothing to do with her and pretends to not even so much as acknowledge her or know her name. Naive girl just got played….

    BIG 4 seducing new recruit:
    BIG 4 partners show up to recruiting events in fancy suits, with their business cards and blackberry phones in hand. They sweet talk the top students by bragging about all the high-profile clients that the firm has and all the exiciting projects that are in the “works” and how if YOU sign with them YOU could be a part of all of it and have a great and long lasting career in public accounting. Raking in $500K + just like they do. They follow up by inviting the newbie to lavish dinners, give them accessories (pens, backpacks, binders, etc.) They show you the office and tell all the miserable staff to pretend to look happy and be on their best behavior infront of the newbies. The newbie works an internship with the firm in which they spend much of their time sitting in on meetings with high-profile clients and attending fun events such as baseball games and Disneyworld.

    Once the newby signs and commences work as a new staff member this all changes of course. They are given clerical work for 10 to 15 hrs a day which consists of sorting through boxes for documents, printing, faxing, ordering food, data entry, and ticking and tieing. Managers and above talk to newbie as if they are an unworthy piece of protoplasm. Then when you finally get your shot to do a meaningful assignment they take no time to train you, bully you into eating hours, and then try to make you feel guilty for not knowing how to complete the assignment in the unreasonably tight amount of budgeted time given. Then, as soon as the economy takes a slight down turn the partners make cuts to the staffwithout even a second thought. To protect their image in the media the partners play the classic Blame the Victim card by stating that the individual was “disruptive” or not meeting “performance expectations”. And as the fired staff member clears their stuff out and makes their way to the door in walks another, impressionable, young, naive, innocent ,baby faced kid to fill YOUR vacancy. While the greedy scum bag partner continues to collect his rediciolous salary.
    Naive BIG 4 staff associate just got played…

    Note to New hire:
    Management tells you that they are deeply concerned and involved in your career development. But in reality ithey could care less. They only care about the bottom line. The coaching and career development is atrocious. They are using you. The place runs like nothing more than a WELL OILED MACHINE.

    Thankfully there are independent blogs like this to expose this SWEAT SHOP for what it really is.

  419. I wonder when will they start next round of layoffs at D in the Southeast region? End of April, Beginning of May?

  420. 407 –

    I never said getting opportunities was about a**kissing. I came in as a winter hire and was put on a couple clients as needed my first two months, only one long enough to require an engagement review, and it wasn’t a bad review. Our office, like most big offices is separated by our client’s industries. After busy season ended I was put on a large client in a different industry group. As busy season ended, that client was on my schedule for the next year. There was nothing I could control over that. I figured I’d give it a shot. After a couple months I liked the team out there and didn’t regret my decision, but I still was technically in my original industry group. I was always vocal about working on something new while scheduled on that client, as were others at my level on the client, but for reasons out of our control and our team’s control for that matter, those opportunities didn’t come until about a year later (a couple months prior to promotions to senior). I tried to switch into the industry group of this client because that team knew I put in the work and they knew I had potential but wasn’t always given the learning opportunities. By that point all groups had too many people and I couldn’t switch over. This busy season I was back on a client in my original industry group, came back with little applicable experience from my other client other than knowing how to document and delegate to an extent.

    Without knowing someone’s exact situation, I don’t think it’s fair to call someone out on not being a team player. I was always a team player, about as selfless as possible during my time. My entire first year (year, not busy season) was spent working til 9 on weeknights, working about 40-45 Saturdays that year, maybe 5 or 6 Sundays, driving 45 minutes to get home each weeknight, then trying to study for the exam when I got home. Hey, that is part of the job, and I understood that more than most people I worked with. I took it in stride and had a good attitude about it. It’s the job I signed up for and it’s what I wanted to do.

    What do you mean by go create a team? I’m not trying to call you out, just looking for clarification. Also, I did have a niche, a very specific one. When you spend your entire first year carving out a very specific niche on a single client (not by choice but because that area was assigned to you), pretty much everything else that you’re expected to learn as a first year doesn’t get learned. I could have “learned on my own”, but that would have meant not studying for the exam, which is considered priority at KPMG. Sleeping is also necessary, especially when the drive to the client is an hour and the drive home is 45 minutes, sometimes longer in bad weather.

    Say what you want and defend what you want, but please don’t assume that everyone is just “angry” and “didn’t take advantage of opportunities”. Some people have been legitimately treated differently than others during their time at a Big 4.

  421. Thankfully, in my case I realized early on I was going to be a “one and done,” so it’s not a big problem for me. I’m also older, so I’ve been in this situation before in other jobs I’ve had where they were phasing out jobs. I feel bad for the traditional age new hires–I think a lot of them think they’re immune because they think the firm doesn’t want to just write off all the training, etc., that they’ve invested, and that the only ones in danger are people who have been there a while. That might have been true in the past, but I think all bets are off now.

  422. I started to post comments in last Nov., and it normally took days to get a repsond or none
    Now, I see instant repsonds with in 10 min…either people are not busy–unassigned or got laid off
    Just by the traffic volume here, we know the bloody cut is not over yet.

    One thing for sure, this blog has more “Partners, Managers, or at least some pretend authorities” who are trying to mitigate pains, redirect blames, and/or guide new hires…lol…before there were just the pre-layoffs or post-layoffs

  423. Thanks to those who gave me some constructive advice.

    I’ve got a handful of months after I graduate and before I start. Does anyone have advice on what I should build my skills in? Perhaps a certain way of using Excel? I’m going to spend most of my time studying for the Exam, but I’d like to go in not looking like a total technical noob.

  424. p.s. I’m going into Audit.

  425. 420 –
    My comments weren’t directed at you – sorry if you felt called out. It sounded lke you found a good niche but the politics were working against you… not your fault per se. I’m not good at working the politics — and I understand that pain. But politics exist in every company… any group of people who have a common purpose. But learning how to work the politics will benefit you in life… when you learn — please teach me.

    Creating a team — first start out by aligning yourself with a manager/director/partner who shows interest in you and you can relate to. If there are none in your practice — find one somewhere. I agree they are not all interested in mentoring and developing staff (I will even agree that the majority don’t care — but not all). It might be possible that the ones you think do not care – when asked, you’ll find out they do care… so give them a chance, open the door and maybe they will walk through it with you. If you do not ask then they don’t necessarily know. It is fair and appropriate to question your manage and ask for something from them. If done well they see the value in it for them and you both benefit.

    Yes, I am in management — but I spend 80% of my time training my associates/seniors (who never make copies-I mean never), and am then left doing my chargeable work pretty much after the 8 hour work day is over. So some managers do invest gobs of time into their staff… and it comes out of their life — and often the staff are not very appreciative. I look for the staff that are appreciative — because those are the ones that will do well in my team… they are appreciative because they like the work and the environment. The unappreciative ones — some simply aren’t interested in this work, some just do not like a manager actually taking interest in them as they want to prove themselves to the world without help… generally they are reassigned and they find out about the world of making copies.

    From day one my staff are performing analysis — although the first ones are more basic, and they get more complex ones over time. After 2-3 years they should be doing the analyses with much less supervision and be training the new hires how to do what they learned when they first started. This step is actually “joining a team” and learning from it rather than “creating a team”.

    The next step to creating your own team is finding ways to branch out from what this core team does. Mind you – you may not even like the original team you joined (or the manager/director/partner), but you can work towards the creating a team through them. You may be a sub-team, or a specialty arm of that team. Get good at that — then you can develop into marketing that team internally to managers and other practice areas. And in time you will grow into selling that work externally.

    Maybe I am a different kind of manager. Most staff like it. Some don’t — it seems the ones who don’t feel they do not need training or oversight… it’s hard to build the world of good managers that so many here crave when the staff don’t really want it. Note that it isn’t everyone. But the broad based comments condemning all partners, all managers, all BIG 4 as being mafia, unethical, not caring, only interested in their $… not fair. I do not work for the money — the biggest incentive for me is the joy I feel when I see a young man or woman develop into a top quality professional and I can feel that I had a part in that.

  426. @425 2:49

    Thanks for your comments.
    A couple of comments…

    I have had the same experience with staff, direct and indirect reports, who did not appreciate my coaching style. Some thought I was holding them to an impossibe standard. Some thought I was expectng them to be a “workoholic” like they thought I was. Some thought because I don’t have chidren that don’t respect their family priorities. Some were just distrustful after so many bosses who had taken an interest in them but later exploited, burned, or betrayed them. Just like in your experience, they quit, asked for transfers, or were terminated when they didn’t get “on the program.”

    I have been told I don’t emphasize enough that I am not indicting all professionals in the firms for the sins and faults I describe.

    Let me repeat: Many of my friends are in the firms. Many professionals are good, honest, smart, hardworking, sincere, authentic individuals.

    The blog is meant to provide a critique of the industry, an explanation of the business model of the firms, and an update on the significant threats and challenges they currently face. This information is not available from very many other sources. They either do not the experience i have or they do not have the freedom to tell the truth. I have worked in the firms at an MD/Partner level and have no plans on ever doing so again. I do not depend on them for my livelihood. For that reason, I am not beholden to them. That is rare. Even many professionals who agree wholeheartedly with me, support my efforts, help me to get to the truth and keep stories accurate, can not do so openly. They want to stay in the firms, work with the fims, remain “friends of the firms.” To each his own. I do not think less of them for that. On the contrary. I respect them for talents I’ve never had.

    I would hope that my support of this type of open communication and my desire to continue to provide information to my readers is evidence enough of my commitment to the professionals and the profession, even if I do not believe that the firms are serving either of them well right now.
    Francine

  427. @ 425—wish I had found someone here who was that interested in staff development.

    @NewHire. Try to become a “power user” of Excel. And yes, study for the exam. If you interned, keep in touch with the people you worked with.

  428. I was at EY. I can relate to many of the points of view here. Its unfortunate that there is very little training / coaching on truly _managing_… this is, I suspect, a big difference from industry. Except for the truly outlying situations, most of your progress / comp / whatever appears to be related to how much you can personally produce or how well you “manage to budget” vs. how good you are at staff management. IMO, the only true managers are really the partners. It can really be sink or swim which is sort of consistent with up or out, anyway. (cliches abound!)

  429. @fm – you are correct. I agree with all the reasons staff may not respond to a truly interested manager who is working to support and develop them. All your reasons are felt by some at different times, and at times they can be true. Sometimes deadlines and urgency get in the way of worrying about someone’s weekend – but in the end this should balance out. Also, I never ever leave a staff member to do the work I am not willing to stay and do with them.

    I find the word empathy interesting — because it is used in so many ways. The difference between empathy and sympathy does matter… People don’t think we empathize sometimes because even when we do, the actions we take based on the shared experience are different. I empathize tons with people working excessive hours… but that does not mean it doesn’t (sometimes) have to be done – and understanding the situation doesn’t alter the reality. If empathy means make the same decision as the other and such — then no, managers will never be able to empathize with staff 100% of the time.

    I have also sent staff home because they were too tired and prone to making mistakes (been sent home myself for this reason — and I slept for ~30 hours straight before heading back to work). I’ve also tried to send staff home and they won’t go because they know the work needs to be done… and they are interested and they care.

    Thanks for the advice Francine — learning how to do external marketing is a real challenge… thoughts in how to reshape yourself to do that? Thoughts on how to grow to trust your staff as managers?

  430. My partner doesn’t believe in up or out — he has career seniors and career managers…

    Funny think — many of his managers believe in up or out… can’t figure where they get it from.

  431. @Anonymous 3:51

    Working for the accounting firms is a vocation that requires a devotion to client service. And to doing right, technically and form a public policy perspective. It doesn’t come quick or easy. Like they say about the military – It’ not just a job, it’s an adventure that can be very personally and professionally rewarding. Under the right circumstances.

    Advice for growing into, developing skills for marketing and sales of professional services? A post for another day. Thank for the suggestion.

    Francine

  432. @430 at 4:01

    Career seniors and career managers? In audit or consulting? Slightly different. Can you say what firm? Highly unusual in audit.
    Francine

  433. @432 – Forensic

  434. Ahh @433
    Forensic make some sense given the variety of interesting backgrounds some folks being into the mix such as law enforcement, military, etc. May have mature professionals that just do what they do well and not interested or eligible for more senior practice leadership or supervisory positions.

  435. @430 etc.
    Where one partner controls all the staff, or at least the “staffing system” is utilized rather than the “pooling” system, I can see the possibility of career manager / senior managers.

  436. General post — the volume of posts on this thread, and the quick replies, are huge signals that the staff don’t feel they’re getting the straight story from their firms. They seem to be hungry for the true story, no matter where it comes from. What a sad indictment of current firm leadership!

    As for me, now out of the Big 4 for nearly 6 months, I remember how I first discovered this blog, during a previous round of layoffs. (It was the only source of information around, since the partners weren’t saying anything.) As I learned about lawsuits and other serious challenges facing the accounting firms, I was surprised by how little information I was getting from the firm, and how much information I was getting from the blog. (Not sure how much the partners were getting, but I wasn’t hearing beans about this stuff.) Realizing how tightly information was controlled by “leadership” led me to question “why?” and to look for truth between the lines of what was said and otherwise communicated. This was a significant step in my journey out of the Big 4.

    Not that industry is always perfect … not by a long shot. But generally, the information flows more freely because there isn’t a single cadre of people (like partners) who have some vested interest in controlling the spin. There are way more “fiefdoms” and “silos” so competing interests tend to push information around, if only to serve their self-interest at the expense of the interests of another organization.

    Given the lack of interest in this area by the “mainstream media” I imagine that, without blogs such as this one, staff would only very rarely learn what was really going on. In today’s environment, they would be clueless about events happening to their peers in other firms, or in other practices, or in other offices. So thanks, Fran, for that conduit and for the insight.

    — Tenacious T.

  437. @407. yes you would be surprised at how the “best and brightest” at pwc don’t know how to use that very basic 1+function. and i’m not just talking about first years…

    also, @ 407, i felt i had to post, showing i caught my own errors, because i JUST KNEW there would be one of you to dismiss me as “angry” and “ranting” and “not a fit” for BIG4 since i can’t number, count, add, what-have-you….(btw, i had one manager provide a restatement to the CLIENT that was $30M off–and he/she is now a partner–completely unbelievable but 100% true!–so arithmatic isn’t considered so remedial of a concept either at BIG4….)

    there is a HUGE gap in what people promise you in terms of the type of work you’ll be doing and what you’ll ACTUALLY get to do. i find it particularly amazing that some managers say they NEVER have first year associates make copies for them. i believe in advisory, make copies is pretty much unavoidable, as is faxing documents and “right faxing” them. i do know there are good managers out there that hate giving tedious work. sometimes it’s dictated by the type of engagement (unavoidable) and sometimes it’s by a manager who just wants to promote the “chain-of-command” culture (totally avoidable!). and i also know that earning $48k/yr for making copies sure beats what the guy at your local fedex/kinkos is getting paid.

    however, i do feel that people are missing the point of my post–meaning the work is not that great, and at the end of the day, like all other jobs, we are 100% dispensable. it doesn’t matter if you’ve established great relationships with a couple of partners–the message is that you have to not only be KNOWN by ALL partners, but pretty much LIKED by ALL, if not the majority, of them. you work A LOT of hours, make A LOT of personal sacrifices (personal relationships, free time, planned vacations, etc.) and spend A LOT of your time and effort hoping you’ve built a pretty nice career for yourself. but few remember that this career you’ve worked so hard to cultivate can pretty much evaporate into thin air if you’re not liked by JUST ONE VOCAL partner, especially when times are lean (like right now). and most end up surprised–meaning that the abrupt nature in how some people are “counseled out” leaves a pretty bad taste–not only for those who are escorted out, but also by those left behind. (@420 “Say what you want and defend what you want, but please don’t assume that everyone is just ‘angry’ and ‘didn’t take advantage of opportunities’. Some people have been legitimately treated differently than others during their time at a Big 4.” AMEN!) the people who are deemed as “negative” on this post were, i’m positive, witness to the bad in the bunch at BIG4, and most likely, their “negative” comments are just a heads-up for newbies–you’ll be selling your soul (“The Devil’s Advocate,” “Michael Clayton,” etc.–not just stuff movies are made of people…)

    i work to live, not the other way around, so if that makes me not a fit, then good riddance to me!

    positives and negatives to all jobs–that’s right–but from what is said by a lot of experienced people here just goes to show, not EVERYTHING in BIG4 is as polished and PROFESSIONAL as it seems (read: the way situations, and in particular, PEOPLE, are handled can get real ugly and real dirty in the blink of an eye). and some partners are about as squeaky clean as the clients who hire them–sataym, ha! tip of the iceberg–and let’s leave it at that.

    one more thing…some people on this thread really need to LIGHTEN UP–maybe if you weren’t such a tight-a** (will censor myself–sorry FM for my previous post) and could laugh every once in a while, i might have really enjoyed spending every waking moment of the day with you!!

    p.s. @402. i would post an in-depth analysis of a**-kissing and other factors to make you a success at BIG4, but i’m pretty sure only @397 up to you actually possess the sense of humor to appreciate it! :)

  438. @ 436. It is very sad. You think that partners and the firm’s leadership would do a better job getting out the message. Instead they stick their heads in the sand and let the message get passed around on the internet. Talk about a black eye.

    I will say that from what I’ve read….PWC is doing a much, much better job than the other 3…for what its worth. PWC 1, other three 0.

  439. When discussing the question of whether the firm does/should “care” about you, consider how quickly these firms throw their own “partners” under the bus when lawsuits come up. As if they are going to care about laying staff off. To be fair, they’re not all heartless bastards, but there seems to be an expectations gap on the question what the firm is going to do when its a choice between you and money ;).

  440. A spectre is haunting the BIG 4 — the spectre of Communism.

    all the powers of the staff have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre.

    Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

    Two things result from this fact:

    I. Communism is already acknowledged by BIG 4 Partners to be itself a power.

    II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself.

  441. Thought about posting under the Roger Phillp article, but seems like a lot of people keeping up with this one.

    How strict are firms about signing off for CPA licenses? I passed the exam, but have had bad utilization all year. If they do end up just getting rid of a bunch of people after year end, would they sign off for my license after I finished my first year, or do they look at things like ratings, utilization, etc., and make a determination on whether to sign off? Would they sign off on someone whom they know they’re about to get rid of?

    To be honest, if I were them I might have problems signing off for someone who didn’t really have many hours of chargeable work, and of those hours many consisted of clerical stuff like scanning, copying, etc.

  442. @Tenacious Truman — initially I found this blog only cause I was wondering if there was info on the layoffs which I knew were coming. But now I find it interesting only from a learning perspective… mentoring each other… upwards/downward, within Big 4/outside big 4, young(er)/old(er), etc… a chance to see the plethera of viewpoints and the multi-facetted issues around the experiences in the various types of firms.

    Leadership in all firms hold much information close to the vest — they have to. If information leaks that is not accurate they get in trouble. If president Obama gave a speech everyday telling you the ideas the cabinet had generated that day… well, you get the point. The line each organization’s leaders draw in the sand for communications is interesting and varied. I do notice that at KPMG they do not want managers to share much information with staff… I break that rule almost every day. I do get told not to do it again — so I guess I pay a price for that.

  443. PwC NEVER made their staff initiate performance reviews in Q3. Traditionally it was done twice a year – mid-year and year-end. Wow! They are really anxious to fire people. How stupid does PwC think we all are? See recent internal communication per below:

    “According to the ’09 ARC Communication sent out to all on February 26, 3rd Quarter PFF initiation began on March 16th for all work that is at least 80% complete. We understand that some of you are still in the midst of your busiest time; however, waiting to initiate PFFs until year end will only compound administrative overload into a very short time frame. In order to avoid PFF overload for your reviewers in May, we strongly urge you to initiate appropriate number of PFFs now to provide the ARC with an overview of progress during the year.

    I’ve outlined below some of the most frequent questions I receive regarding PFFs. If you have any other questions regarding PFFs or the general ARC process; please let me know.

    Please take responsibility for obtaining timely feedback as this is an active ingredient of High Performance. So don’t wait, initiate PFFs now!

    Thanks,”
    /s/ Anonymous

  444. Attention! Attention!

    All college students/prospective BIG 4 employees.

    Business Week proclaims that the BIG 4 is at the top of the list for a “Great Place to Launch a Career”.

    This is nothing but plaine and simple B.S. These firms are miserable places to work and the greedy and repacious S.O.B.s aka as partners or Tefflon Dons should leave in hand-cuffs.

    You partners reading this think you can get away with throwing your staff under the bus like this? Seriously? You’ve got another thing coming. We are gonna make your lives absolutely miserable you self-serving miserable greedy A-holes.

  445. How much are BIG 4 senior managers and managers worth as far as severance, if being laid off in these economic times and jobs may be impossible to find at this high level for an indefinite amount of time? Seems that 6 months to a year severance should be requested- would firms go for that and how do you get the job done- can you negotiate on your own or do you need legal advice?

  446. No performance evals in Q3? You’re an idiot. Performance evals have never been intended to be completed just at mid-year and year-end. Communication at PwC has always been that performance evaluations are to be completed as soon as a job is complete or that multiple evaluations should be obtained for long term jobs. A timely evaluation is to your advantage because your reviewer will be able to provide better comments / examples and you will be able to incorporate those development points into your future projects more quickly. The fact that you are so paranoid to think that a request for a timely performance evaluation is a career death sentence indicates much about your perception of your own work product.

    To all of you crying about the partners not caring and not giving you meaningful work the day you walked in the door – respect is earned and not just given. What happened to working hard to put yourself in a position to get meaningful work on a high profile client? It’s amazing to witness the sense of entitlement that new hires walking in the door have these days.

    Some advice to new hires – Don’t come in with this pompous attitude. You’re not an asset at this point. Just as in any job, you have alot to learn before you can really begin adding value. Work hard. Show up on time. When asked to do something, do it with a smile on your face. Stay positive. Work to integrate yourself within a good engagement team. Don’t say no to any request. Volunteer for internal initiatives / workstreams to gain visibility. Address issues through the proper channels. And if you don’t know how to do something, ask.

    All of you giving advice for college grads to reconsider their current offers are full of it too. If the offer is still on the table, take it. Where is a student that has majored in accounting supposed to begin work and get that type of experience if not with the Big 4? Even those that have left would admit that having that Big 4 name on their resume has opened more doors than an entry level bookkeeping position would have.

    I think that it’s obvious from the internal communications posted here that PwC has done a commendable job at being transparent. At some point we should all understand the economic realities of running a business in this environment. Lay-offs may very well happen. Until that time, keep your head low, your mouth shut and work your tail off. Because at the end of the day, right now where are you going to go?

  447. @441 Re: Firm signing off on your license. Why wouldn’t they do it? If they didn’t do it I would imagine there is some soft of rule the applicable accountancy board has – and then if they don’t sign off they would have to admit they didn’t give you the opportunities promised. If it’s PwC – I can’t imagine anything that shady going on. If it is – contact the national risk or ethics office of your applicable firm.

  448. @444 – In response to your comment regarding BIG 4 is at the top of the list for a “Great Place to Launch a Career”, I would have to disagree. Don’t get me wrong. I have been with my firm for almost 3.5 years now and I have seen the good and the bad. I am not a Kool-aid drinking firm-for-life-employee, however, any college grad starting at a BIG 4 will learn more in the first 2 to 3 years than at any smaller firm or in industry. As a side note, I am in Federal tax so I wasn’t making copies all the time. My firm’s slogan is “KPMG is a great place to build a career.” As I look back at my time at KPMG, I have concluded that “KPMG is a great place to start your career, however it may not be the best place to build your career.” I say that because I have learned a lot in my 3.5 year years with KPMG and have built a strong tax foundation. However, my life situation, wife and kids, has changed and KPMG is no longer a good fit for me anymore (I don’t believe it is as family friendly as they want you to believe.) I plan on leaving in the near future. My plan was never to stay with KPMG more than 5 year anyway, because I knew that is not where I wanted to work for the rest of my life. However, for some people the BIG 4 may be a good fit and making a career out of the BIG 4 will work for them. If a college grad asked me right now, I would tell them to get a job with the BIG 4, learn a lot, and then after 3 to 4 year re-evaluate his or her life’s goals. If that person wants more time to do things outside of work (family, sports, etc) the BIG 4 may not be the best place to stay. However, if that person’s goal is to become a CFO or go be the head of some tax department in industry, they should stay until they have been a manager for a few years or more and then leave. Like I said, I am not a Kool-aid drinking firm-for-life employee. I have my issues with KPMG. I don’t agree with how things are run all the time. I think most of the BIG 4 use a burn and churn approach (burn you up and churn you out) and so I am not talking on the side of the firm, however I have to be diplomatic in my view.

    Since i am writing this post, I am curious as to what all of your thoughts are on the partner position and how the firms are changing to meet the upcoming generations expectations.

    I ask that because first, my opinion is the partner position is dead. I say that because I really don’t think it holds as much weight as it use to. Who wants to be a partner any more? In my office, I don’t know any staff who want to work up to be partner. I guess in my office, the thought is, we see how hard and long the managers and partners work and the staff I work with ask themselves “Is it worth it?” I have had conversations with staff who say “The partners maybe earning $1million + (or what ever they make) but is it worth it if you don’t ever have time to spend the money or be with family? The staff tell me that they would rather work at a smaller firm with more flexible hours and make $200k to $300k than work be a partner at a BIG 4. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are people out there who want to be partners, but is it really as many as there use to be. Are there enough to fill the pipeline for the future. Also, I ask myself are you really a partner ever though you receive a K-1? I have had two separate partners, yes partners, tell me that they were glorified employees. I see the partners in my office and they all take their marching orders from higher ups. Their goals are set by national, not by what they really want to achieve. So I ask, why be a partner? What are your thoughts on this?

    Second, my question about the generational issues is that maybe my first question above is a generational issue (I am in my early 30s) and that my generation and up coming generations want different things than what the partners, senior managers, and managing directors wanted when they were moving up the ranks? I know in my life, I want to have a good job and make descent money, but I want more time with my family and to do other things outside of work. I know right now, there are thing I don’t believe I can accomplish if I stay at KPMG (ie complete in a half ironman or full ironman, it is a goal of mine). The hours at work are just too long and don’t allow me to balance work, family life and other interests like I want too, so I need to leave. My guess is that there are others in my generation that feel the same way as well. I don’t know what drove the partners to become partners, but something must have pushed them to stay with their firm long enough to get where they are. What ever it is, I don’t have it and I wonder if many of the staff these days have it either? Thoughts on this.

    In addition, I don’t think the firms have done a good job in identifying what they need to do to keep the top talent in my generation or the next generation. My office has had a really hard time retaining experience hires with 3 to 5 year experience, but that is a national problem as well. I know most of those who left my office, and most of them left because the hours just got too long and they got burnt out. I think most of them enjoyed their job to some degree but not enough to stay. I personally think the BIG 4 will continue to have problems with retaining experience staff until they change their ways. This will lead to a shortage in managers and further up the chain. I don’t think the firms realizes that staff coming out of the BIG 4 can get paid more and work less that staying at the BIG 4, so what is the incentive to stay. Also, leaving these days is easier than it use to be (I mean this not withstanding the current economic condition). Think about it, the younger generations have the internet and can find job postings very quickly on career builder and monster.com, just to name a couple job search site. I think my generation figures that having 4, 5 or more jobs in a career will be normal or is normal. However, when the partners were moving up the ranks, finding jobs was not that easy. They couldn’t just job hunt on-line to find another job if they got tired of where they were at. They had to do research, look at classifieds and so on. Also as the partners were moving up the chain, staying with one firm or company for long periods of time was more common that it is today. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks.

  449. See, new hires, if you can take Partner 446’s attitude, you can be a well-paid slave. Good Luck.

  450. @448- I am over 40 years old and have had 9 jobs in my life. The days of being a lifer at your first job stopped with my father’s generation (he had 2-3 jobs). If I were to give advice to any young new hire I would say you need a variety of experiences before you settle into a job for life. I see no reason why a Big 4 would want to keep the young people for life — because they need to grow through a variety of places and experiences. Do you marry the first person you date — it is a rare thing… you need not stay with the first job either. The firms will get managers/directors… through experienced hire recruiting. I believe those that stay with their first job generally strive for mediocrity as they do not challenge themselves with new experiences. You are aware that in-breeding causes physical and mental problems for future generations… isn’t the ‘keep all new hires for life’ idea simply a form of in-breeding. We need diversity of thought and that comes from diversity of experiences. I’m glad you are gaining good experiences and looking into what you want for your next challenge that fits best with your lifestyle. I wish you the best of luck and hope that you have great success. There will always be partner want-to-bes.

    There are generational differences, to be sure… but in many ways we were exactly the same as the youth of today when we started. We were accused of being idealists, and we were. We thought we had so much education and that with it we could solve the problems of the world — and we tried to do it. But we learned that office politics and business realities also count and you have to work through them all. We learned that our time had not come the day we got a college degree. We had more to learn. Call it revisionist history, but I do believe we had better training in college and that we were more respectful of our managers… but they had their hands full with us as well. And we all left after 1-2 years and went to grad school and moved on from there.

    Too many things you never thought you’d ever come to accept really do come true as you age — and each generation can learn these things in only one way… they have to get older and learn through experience. Those who have already lived it simply cannot explain it and they will not listen anyway. All we can ask is to have cross-generational patience and learn from each other. Wait as you watch your children grow — they won’t listen to you either. You will tell them not to touch the hot stove, and they will have to touch it before they learn what hot is. And one day — they will come back and tell you how right you were and they will suddenly want to listen to your every word.

    As for the internet changing things — it never took me more than 2 weeks to find a new job until well AFTER the internet came along. We had our methods and they were effective. Back then, we used the mail – but HR was not inundated with 1,000s/1,000,000s of resumes… they actually reviewed what they received. People were selective where they sent a resume. Recruiting was not a check the skill boxes thing — they hired you cause you were smart and could learn anything they needed you to learn. The internet is good, but has created as many problems as it has solved. The old ways are well worth the effort.

    And to all those who want to accuse me of being a partner — nope, that would be wrong.

  451. When you studied accounting in school did you really think it was an exciting career? Has anyone ever seen “The Producers” – it is not known as a stimulating career.

  452. In response to #446 and others… I have to side with #446… After all, accounting students, like myself, are just this: we study accounting! Where else can we launch our careers if not at a Big Four (or even national mid-tiers)?
    Now that i-banking is dead and consulting is suffering worse than the accounting industry, is there a better employer for us for our first job?

    Sure, it’s not a great place to work for (all big 4s are in the 50-60s range per CNN ranking), but really, where else can accounting students like myself turn to after we graduate?…
    I will keep my offer from Big Four and pray that they don’t rescind it.

    Quick question: I think there are less posts here about layoffs at EY compared to other big three. Are there really less layoffs at EY than elsewhere?

  453. What is an associate?

    – KPwCDTMG Partner

  454. @452, I-Banking is not dead and consulting will recover eventually, just like everything else. I don’t know why you’re comparing I-Banking, consulting (top tiered) and presumably other Wall Street roles to accounting. That’s like comparing pop warner to the NFL. As I found out, if you’re in the Big4, that means you probably never had a shot at Wall Street to begin with. Didn’t go to the right undergrad school, etc. I’m a first-year at a Big4 but I’m there because I’m a i-banking reject. The ticking and tying, checking off audit procedure list and other cookie-cutter audit stuff (yes, I know analysts nonsense in the beginning too) — this isn’t a career, it’s a vocation as non-intellectually challenging and repetitive as wheelbarrow making and only necessary because we haven’t found a way to computerize auditing 100% yet. #437 mentioned making $48K/yr is better than the Kinkos guy doing the same thing. Ok…you could also try to look in the other direction and realize we have 9 million millionaires in this country and making $48K isn’t that great doing anything.

  455. @452 – “Where else can we launch our careers if not at a Big Four (or even national mid-tiers)?”

    Oh I don’t know, how about the 1000 or so major corporations in the united states that have more stable business models (i.e. don’t have a potential death sentence hanging over them, however likely or unlikely) where you are going to wind up working after a couple years in auditing anyway.

    While the big 4 are very large employers of fresh (and naive) talent, they really are a very small subset of jobs out there and odds are that you won’t be there in 3-5 years anyway. There are obvious perks like salary, CPA licensure, etc. but its not like CPA firms are the only firms who employ accountants when in fact the vast majority of accounting talent works outside the big 4.

  456. I’ve been following this post for quite awhile in anticipation of the comments related to the lay-offs at my firm this week. However, what I’ve found is that this post has become more of a place to debate the merits of a career at a Big 4 firm, the partnership model and the way firm management has dealt with the current economy. I think this is a healthy thing and have appreciated the perspective it has provided me.

    I have enjoyed my career at a b4 firm. One of the reason I enjoy is that I appreciate it. I appreciate because I worked in another industry for several years in my early 20s, which if you can believe it required more hours, less pay and even less intellectual stimulation. Coming from that background my 4 years in public accounting have been a breeze. My experience has led me to conclude that alot of the complaints I hear from staff one to two years removed from college are based on a lack of perspective. Many seem to have an attittude of entitlement, based on their socio-economic status which was derived primarily from their parents station in life. Some of it is based on the cost of education. If I had $120k in student loans because I went to Notre Dame for 5 years I’d expect more bang for my buck too. Some of it is also attributable to the false impression put forth by HR and partners in their effort to recruit “talent.” Either way, the lack of perspective has created an enormous expectations gap.

    These gap is making it easier and easier for management to justify treating new hires with less and less consideration. The perceived “attitude problem” of many new hires based on the expectations gap creates a resentment that expresses itself through the treatment that many posters have mentioned earlier on. Management perceives less committment from incoming and new member of the firm and therefore feels less committment to them. Hence the broken promises.

    If there has been any benefit to the Big 4 from the current economic crisis, I believe it will prove to be the fact that everyone involved has been taken down a notch. What I mean by that is that everyone’s expectations will have been “normalized.” Partners will realize that pie-in-the-sky promises to staff and dreams of a pipeline of profligate advisory spend are unrealistic. Professionals just starting their careers will realize that, hey, sometimes it’s not all about their career or their personal needs. Everyone is getting the message that sometimes a little sacrifice is called for and that’s a good thing for the Big 4 over the long-term.

    I was lucky enough not to have been laid off this week. For that I am thankful and I wish everyone who was laid off this week, or during the past year, all the best.

  457. @TML
    I agree. Before my pub acct job, I used to work almost all holidays and 10hr/day all year round for less pay. And believe me, I got a BS from one of the top 50 schools and my major was no joke, either. People admired my title but never knew how I was treated at work nor how much I made. Finally I got to the point that I couldn’t take it any more so went back to school which was not even ranked.

    I admit it’s not at alll easy and fun at B4. I’m not saying any of you should lower your expectation. I’m just saying B4 exp is not as bad as you complain. It’s what you make out of the experience.

  458. I am sick and tired of people bitching about life in the big 4. If you aren’t happy with it, leave it. You need to use them to full effect and to manage your own career. If you do not have a CPA and you’ve been with the Firm more than two years, you’re an idiot, barring any dire circumstances that prevented you from doing that. Further, you need to speak the hell up and tell them when something is bothering you. A sample of the general population with business degrees are not natural managers, especially the accountant subset. You may encounter people who suck at managing but YOU need to be the better person and deal with it, make sure you don’t do the same thing, and try to extricate yourself from the situation.

    Quite frankly, the hours suck. So do some of the managers. But shoot at age 25, what other profession gives you this much experience and consistent intellectual stimulation. Further, you get to supervise and delegate, things that people in other fields don’t get to do for another decade.

    One thought I’ve always had is that compensation is a mix of things – salary, free time, travel, experience, knowledge, personal connections. You have to decide what your mix is and what you want – if you want to punch the clock, the salary may be lower but you get a ton more free time….or if you want to take a big 4 or consulting job with crazy travel – you get less free time but you get diverse experiences, knowledge, etc. Each job has a certain set of compensation and it is foolish to view it as simply the check you receive on a semi-monthly basis.

    I view my hard time in the big 4 as an investment in myself–I’ve passed the CPA, gained experience supervising people, pushed to be involved with things that advance my career, and traveled a ton gaining experience dealing with new people in new places. I know that will pay off later – it may not necessarily mean the best work/life balance right now, but in your 20s you don’t have enough experience to demand that in a field like ours.

    Bottom line: use the big 4 for all they’ve got – get as much experience as you can, take advantage of it, and then get out when the benefits (both short term and long term) are outweighed by the drawbacks.

  459. 458 – You Sir/Madame are exactly the type of mindless drones that flock to the Big 4. That ‘keep your head down and work hard and eventually it will pay off’ attitude is old school BS. In the age of start up millionaires and opportunities on every corner to work that hard and make that little is not just stupidity – it’s borderline insanity. I mean think of it this way – all those 10-12 hour days over 2 -5 years and you made how much? Exactly. Not even enough to trade that heat up Honda accord for a newer Honda Accord. So if you want to be the mindless slave that is pounded into nothing in order to make fat dumb and lazy partners rich be my guest.

    Some people in here know better and are expressing this view. It is not complaining it is enlightening. You should listen. It might have saved you a few wasted years. But right now it just sounds like you are trying to justify your poor career choice. Sad.

  460. @ 458’s “If you do not have a CPA and you’ve been with the Firm more than two years, you’re an idiot, barring any dire circumstances that prevented you from doing that.”
    Agreed.

    Without considering busy season, auditors are grossly overpaid. Taking Jan. to March into account, it’s not that bad of a deal.

  461. @458; totally understood what you meant; been there done that. But come on, give people a chance to vent or BS

  462. @459-what instant millionaires – where are they now. Most are in jail or committed suicide or lost it all anyway. Many who you thought were millionaires were so highly leveraged that they were living an illusion that is now gone. I know one of my classmates did it — and died before he was 30… never got to enjoy life with or without money. Those of us who lived within our means and saved up that first million and thought we were set… watched people like you who have no concept of fiscal reality (none the less responsibility) destroy our economy… and who is going to save those irresposible saps… yes, the hardworking people who saved and lived responsibly. What does that mean — yes, the “mindless slaves that are pounded into nothing…” we are the backbone and the salvation of this economy and we resent every penny we lose in order to save the economy that people who think like you destroyed.

  463. Folks,

    This is a blog – please keep to the topic of the thread! Yo dont have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what people want to discuss on this thread – let me help – “Layoffs” and any inside/outside information relating to the same. Rest of the Wisdom is always enlightening, but dont distract people from the focal point. There are other more appropriate threads for the rest.

    Thanks for your attention to this detail!

    Always watching your back jack!

  464. @462 Anonymous 11:15

    Thanks for your efforts at keeping things organized. Frankly, not sure what to do to to organize this better for those that only want to get specific information about cuts, share updates, versus those that want to discuss the larger issues.

    Yes, there are other posts where such a discussion can take place, but it’s a little like saying I’m going to leave this party because the DJ started playing trance even though all the interesting people are still there. Nonetheless, I suggest Tenacious Truman’s guest post Music For Chameleons as a place for those at the firms who want to share information abut the operations and business model. http://retheauditors.com/2008/12/music-for-chameleons-a-visitors-view-of-the-firms/

    I’m really gratified, satisfied, and thrilled that there have been so many great comments, advice, disagreements, and debates here. Those that are waiting, living in uncertainty or those who have just had to deal with the disappointment and confusion of being cut, also need a place to think, discuss, vent, work out their plan. There’s lots of different needs that I think are being filled here. But yes, it becomes sort of hard to find details when the number of comments approaches 500.

    I will probably close this thread in a few days when it seems the worst is over for now. Unfortunately, I think Deloitte has more to make (their PR person never called me back last week) and I am hearing PwC may start cutting some of what they will perceive as overstaffing in NYC and east coast once all the annual reports are out.

    And yes, EY has cut. There have been quite a few, but they must be handling it much better. But they are happening. http://retheauditors.com/2009/01/round-and-round-she-goes-where-she-stops-nobody-knows/

    I plan to do a post early next week that sums this all up and looks to the April and forward period. Perhaps that will be a good place to start a new thread talking about the future and what you’re all going to do with it.

  465. fm @ 464.

    Just wonding what you would consider east coast? NY/Philly/Boston or Altanta/Miami/Carolinas or both?

    Thanks.

  466. @fm

    You meant @463 11.17 pm? – agree seems to be too much noise in here other than layoffs – maybe you need to channel people to the right areas. keep it going folks – we all appreciate what you are saying – both sides of the picture are welcome…but those at a big 4 or who have been at a big 4 always see through inaccuracies.

  467. @WatchYourBackJck Yes, I meant you.

    @Q forFM I meant anyone currently working on audits or tax work for JPM, BofA, AIG, Freddie Mac or Goldman Sachs. Although there is year round work I would assume, when the heavy lifting is done for the annual report, I suspect that they wil also cut excess.
    Francine

  468. 459 is correct-for 3 plus years work 7 days/week 14 hrs a day on average all for what?So i could i can say i am a big 4 auditor and worked on some bitch-ass fortunE 500’s Accounts Payable?Nonesense….total big 4 compensation/total hrs worked=10/hr…my local supermarket cashier makes more and has time to spend with her family and ohh and still has a job btw…at least the I-Bankers that SLAVED for those kinds of hrs got 200K salary to show for it.

    Read Tom Friedman’s(The World is Flat)-this was written way before the layoffs/Crisis etc….the global paradigm has shifted-the days off mindless,drone like work for $$$ are over…get real do what you enjoy and excel at it….Forget SWEATSHOPS like big 4 that suck the blood out of you and make you bitter,tired and “structually unemployable”.

  469. Hey 458 your post is very funny.The fact that you have passed the CPA and supervised some poor kid in a Big 4 firm does not mean anything,so have 10’s of thousands of other CPA’s,what makes you so specialAlot of info out there about Big 4 is overated,often put out by the firm,that idea that Big 4 and CPA automatically makes you controller or CFO at GE is crazy.
    Intellectual stimulation?Are you kidding?When did filing out a tax form or testing Revenue qualify as stimulating.I am looking at a workpaper now and boy oh boy i am so excited……..

  470. Dear New Hires, New Layoffs, New frightened, currently content and employed or not content but employed…

    Repeat after me, UNIONIZED; united we can demand better treatments, respect, fair workloads…
    Until then, all will be the same. We can only write a few words here/there to express our frustrations; even so, management still jumps on board to lecture us. We are helpless, powerless, and defenseless.

    We are smarter, work harder and know better. We can firm a better union unlike the big 3 auto’s. Come on people, it is about time.

    Sincerely,
    CPA union 000000001

  471. re: sick and tired “I am sick and tired of people bitching about life in the big 4. If you aren’t happy with it, leave it. You need to use them to full effect and to manage your own career. If you do not have a CPA and you’ve been with the Firm more than two years, you’re an idiot, barring any dire circumstances that prevented you from doing that.”

    It’s much easier said than done to quit your job if you don’t like it.

    Everyone knows public accounting isn’t a place you go to take it easy for a couple years.

    The big 4 is brutal, especially now that they are firing their employees left and right. How can you not understand why people are so disgruntled with the big 4 right now?

  472. I just want to gain an understanding on the salary compensation at the big 4s in in the advisory practice. Would anyone know what is the range/average of each level – associate, sr. associate, manager, sr. manager?

  473. 462 – yes you are right….Gosh it’s a good thing Serge Brin, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg started their careers in sweatshops like the big 4 otherwise they never would have accumulated that amount of wealth….oh, wait a minute…

    Continue being a corporate drone. I will wave to you from my Bentley as I pass your 92 Honda Civic on the 101. You are right about one thing: we cant all be successful and independent. Seems like you have chosen your path…

  474. @473-just to be clear… I’ve probably lost more money than you have made in your career — and I can and do have absolutely ever material belonging I have ever wanted. Money at this point is not importnat. You will learn one day that said money, is not gratifying. Don’t learn that the hard way. Grow up and be responsible.

  475. Some of the above comments made me remember what my high school guidance counselor used to say over 25 years ago.

    “There are thousands of occupations and millions of employers so if you can’t find a job you like it is probably your own fault.”

    Life’s too short to have a job you hate.

  476. was there anyone on H1 B with green card process underway laid off?

  477. Does anyone know what was the % of layoffs in KPMG audit? I heard single digits?

  478. 474 – Sounds like along with money not being important to you neither is spelling (‘importnat’) nor grammar (‘ I can and do have absolutely ever material’). That being said, I agree money is not the be all end all however, if you are working 60-70 hour work weeks and getting paid less than six figures you may want to reassess your options.

    Bottom line is there are a lot of people who work this hard and I am not advocating abandoning hard work, alternatively, I am simply pointing out that you could be making more given the hours you put in. The Big 4 is not the pinnacle of the accounting profession no matter what these firms try to portray. Also, work life balance is a marketing ploy intended to sell this lifestyle. Anyone who has worked for a services firm understands there is no such thing if you want to excel.

    Stop being a mouse in the wheel my friend. Put your Iron mountain boxes down, close the 50 excel spreadsheets you have open and get a life.

  479. @446 is an HR mole with nothing better to do then take part in low-level anonymous gutter-snipping. It’s not like HR has anything better to do. They have to justify their job in some way. The BIG 4 has failed us, plain and simple.

    @446 Do you really think you can continue to get away with your deceful web of lies?

    Do you really think you can orcastrate a mass cover-up of the BIG 4’s unfair business practices?

    Current and former BIG 4 employees are mobilizing:
    1st, the college campuses to explain to prospective hires that the job is miserable and the partners are nothing but a bunch of lieing deceitful scum bags that use the staff to line their own greedy pockets.

    2nd, Going to the media and revealing all of the deceitful and illegal activity that takes place at the BIG 4.

    3rd, Going to the government and turning these thugs (i.e. partners) in — just you wait, many of these gangsters will be leaving in hand cuffs. You think Madoff was bad? Just you wait. Dung will hit the fan. Thing are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better.

  480. @ 473, your attitude is arrogant and frankly kind of disgusting. Material wealth is fine, but a person shouldn’t be boastful and proud , try and humble yourself a little before life humbles you, (which it eventually does to everyone).

  481. @478-now you are talking more sanely. Yes, spelling and grammar are important — I need no excuse for those details on a blog when in a rush (check out @479 — ‘orcastrate’? or was that a pun on the word.. in which case it was very clever. But given it followed ‘deceful’.. I think it is just plain wrong). You are correct that people should be paid for the “value” of the work they do – and that value is partially measured by hours. It sounded more like you felt you shouldn’t have to work and millions should drop in your lap-and that you were entitled to them rather than willing to earn them. In reality, your value is lower when you first get out of college regardless of the hours you put in (sorry – but that is true, no judgment implied). But that value grows, and it grows only with hard work. I hope your value grows and you make your millions — but I have seen too many who leverage themselves into a hole trying to get that instant return — and in the end they are on the streets (and dependent on those that were responsible with their finances). Also, the money you make is based on not only value but risk… to make the megabucks you have to take mega-risk. Most of the drones as you call them are risk averse and prefer the slow steady way to financial security. If you are not risk averse, have a good idea, and are pretty lucky — then may you can join the ranks of Steve Jobs with your billions.

    @479-take a deep breath. I do not know about your region or practice or firm, but we do explain the culture to new hire candidates. We also expect them to speak up for themselves and take responsibility for their work life balance. Your manager cannot read your mind — you need to explain things sometimes. The new hires should be told what is expected of them, and should understand that the firm exists for the partners — they are taking the risks and they will reap the biggest rewards… but they will take you along with them when things go well, and as long as they can in bad times if you are contributing in ways that further the practice (which ultimately is equal to them). if you did not know this, then it is because you were young and had unrealistic expectations and did not listen to your interviewers, your friends, your parents, or pretty much anyone out there who is over 25 years old. As for illegality — be careful what you say and do… as without solid proof and evidence it will be hard to say what is illegal. It is not illegal to lay people off. There are some questions about exempt status for associates I understand and that will be ironed out in court – but the partners will not go to jail for that… they will pay out some money. Good luck with your efforts — if they are involved in illegal activity, then I hope you find it and uncover it. I ask though – when Google laid off 1000s of employees were you accusing them of being thugs? Google feeds their staff 3 meals a day — and that is a cost benefit to them because it keeps the staff there late working. Is that much different – the B4 allow for food when you work late. I also ask you whether there isn’t a more constructive place to put your energies than into trying to put the partners in jail. What will you gain from this? Will you move to a better place more quickly? Do you stand to gain anything from them financially? Is it enough to get you through life? If they are doing illegal things, they should be caught, I merely suggest you put a measured amount of energy into that – as in the end it will take a larger toll on you than them (most likely).

    Please note – HR moles are probably paid less than the staff, and they really do not like what is going on any more than you. May of them were laid off too. Before you condemn a complete class of people, think about the people on your team in the same title/position — if all those people’s bad characteristics were projected on you, I think you would be upset.

    For the record — I am not a partner nor am I in HR.

  482. While many posters are understandably angry at being layed off, please don’t discount them as whiners. I have observed several college grads quit the big 4 in their first year due to exactly what these posters have stated. The big 4 do a wonderful job of luring in the best and the brightest. The fancy hotels, incredible meals, the care packages with goodies, and especially the college tuition grants impress the students and even the parents. Everyone hears that the big 4 are slave drivers, but no one believes it till they see it first hand. Read the posts carefully, they are telling it like it is.

  483. To Curious @472 A good site for salary info is glassdoor.com

  484. I agree with adviceforgrads.

    I have not left the Big 4 yet, but this busy season will be my last. I went Big 4 tax because I thought the large clients would involve more sophisticated work. This is an illusion. 90% of staff level work in a compliance group is essentially data entry and trial and error with the software. The work in a mid tier firm would be the same. If you have to have the Big 4 stamp on your resume, at least wait until the the manager level when you may actually get to deal with challenging issues and will have more control over your schedule.

  485. It is ok to be a Cheerleader for Big 4 Firms,they have their good parts,but to imply that 1st years dont have a life because they are not taking charge of their work life balance is plain STUPID and IGNORANT-try having a work-life balance when you are holed in some audit room with some looser snr and kiss ass mgr for 16 hrs a day 7 hrs a week becos some loser want to tell the partner that their team works SO SO HARD feel free to sing the praises of big 4 but do not be a hypocrite and lie

  486. Agree with 484. From what I can tell, most compliance work is as you described. Being able to navigate the software is the most important skill you can have, much more important than anything accounting-related.

    The issue a lot of the disgruntled first years have in my office is that there isn’t enough work, not that there is too much.

  487. @ 481 & 485 —

    481, the problem with your argument (which is that each individual is responsible for his/her own work/life balance) is that the layoffs are essentially based on utilization. So those people who speak up for a personal life are automatically put at risk. Far better to accept the long hours and sacrifices, in order to keep the job. Your argument fails because the firms penalize those who ask for a life, while those who give up any pretense of a life are spared.

    I remember a partner who called everybody in the practice into the office on Saturday at 8 AM — every single week. They had a 30 minute meeting of no particular consequene. Why? So the partner could see who was committed enough to come in … and who was committed enough to stay afterward for a few billable hours until noon. Those who skipped the meeting or failed to put in 4 more hours, each Saturday, were noted.

    485, the problem with your point is that most times the budgets don’t support hours charged without valuable work getting done. If the team is putting in 16 hour days, there had better be a good reason, because when the budgets get blown away, the partner is going to be asking why. My experience is that the Seniors and Managers are constantly stressing about budgets and work getting done, and never have the hours available to keep staff late for no reason. But of course, maybe your experience differs from mine.

    — Tenacious T.

  488. There is no such thing as a good job or a bad job. Only people who are happy in them and people who are not.

  489. I’m curious, for those who seem to despise the BIG 4, if you just graduated college and could start over where would you likely go instead?

  490. Based on my previous posts (405 and 420), it probably comes off that I despise the Big 4. I however do not despise them. They serve their purpose and I’m not posting here as a backlash to being laid off. I’m posting to inform people to not be clouded by the image the Big 4 gives of themselves. It’s not for everybody. I thought it was for me, however, it is disappointing to have made those sacrifices during my first couple years and get laid off, but some people had to go. I hold no grudge for that.

    I won’t complain about hours either, because if you decide to work at a Big 4 and don’t expect to work long hours, you really weren’t listening to anybody while looking for a job. That’s what you signed up for when you took the job.

    Also, if you’re not someone’s favorite or if you’re joining in which you’ll have a lot of catching up to do in terms of learning and networking (didn’t intern, winter hire, etc.) you might want to reconsider. Not everyone’s treated fairly in regards to what clients and audit areas they can work on. I had an incredibly unique situation that explains why my learning experiences were so limited, through no fault of my own, however I took the opportunity to speak up about learning more, working on different areas, and my thoughts were considered but in the end vetoed. I wasn’t being selfish. I believe it was in the best interest in the firm for me to learn different areas prior to becoming a senior.

    To address 489, had I begun my time 9 months later, I would have been in a different position and would have had more opportunities – I would not have gone somewhere else. I had opportunities, but it’s much better to get them during your first two years, rather than as a senior, while trying to refresh yourself on more common audit areas, as well as teach them to a staff, delegate, deal with the client, etc. all at the same time. As a whole though I think you’re going to get more opportunities than other places. I’d estimate a good 90% of people that work at a Big 4 get that. If during your first couple years it doesn’t seem like you’re one of those 90%, you might want to speak up to someone (in a professional manner of course), and ask to get those opportunities. If you’ve done limited work, but have always done what’s asked and have a good attitude, you may get those opportunities. Sometimes you don’t, but at least you let someone know. If it doesn’t work out, then you may want to consider looking elsewhere.

  491. @ 489

    I haven’t had a good experience with the Big 4, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good opportunity for others. I think that my temperment and also my personal circumstances [btw, I am in my mid-30s, so I’m not in the typical new hire demographic] just made it the wrong choice for me.

    I definitely would have explored smaller firms or considered the IRS—I’ve learned that I’m not cut out for a big firm, and I wish I’d kept looking after I got my offer letter form PWC and just used them as a backup plan in case I couldn’t have gotten some other job. Still, hopefully if I last a year, that will work in my favor for the next job.

  492. @485,487

    Experience outside of audit is quite different. That is where I see some disagreement here. For example, layoffs in advisory were not utilization based (the discussions I was aware of were more about long term potential, attitude, quality of work, skillset, etc). As for making your work-life-balance… I wasn’t clear. Work-life-balance is not about taking off whenever you have a personal desire to do so. You need to know when the job needs you, when your personal committments need you and how to balance the two. You will put in more hours in busy season, and you will have weekends to work. But if you have a family emergency, then even busy season need not get in the way. Or you might go to the Dr during the day and work later. Work-life-balance isn’t about working 8 hour days and having weekends off, it is about managing both the work and personal committments in a way that meets the needs of most people (including you, the engagement needs, the firm needs, your family, etc). It is all about making the appropriate compromises in the right places at the right times.

    As for being a cheerleader — I am not. I think there are many problems with the Big 4… having to layoff people in these economic times is not one of them. I think they do not train people well. For example someone mentioned learning software by trial and error — there is no excuse for that. Also, the wining (not whining) and dining and wooing people into thinking the firm is something it is not — that is incredibly wrong. There is incredible inequity across offices and practices on pay and promotions and such… some office promote simply based on years of service not quality of work, while others hold people back until they have been performing at the next level for 1-2 years. Senior management and partners are not always willing to work through the issues – they want an answer and do not care if it is any good as long as it is on time… if you discuss the issues they get mad at you. The firms focus on your title not your ability — they do not empower people based on their contributions, they create a bizzare chain of command that results in inefficiency rather than well supervised work. I can go on…

    But for the good and the bad — you really do need to make of it what you can and want to. If you cannot make it what you need/want – then you need to move on because you do not belong at the Big 4. I have seen much worse environments, but then again – I haven’t seen the audit environment.

  493. To the new hires – I would agree with 492. Even if you get an offer letter, and it doesn’t have a salary, what more viable option do you have? I’m currently a manager at one of the Big Four and I can assure you – you won’t be given the breadth or responsibilites that they can provide. At 22 yrs old you’ll have a company credit card flying around the country, staying in nice hotels, eating out at dinners, seeing ballgames/shows with your colleagues. By 23-25 you’ll be given the responsibility to manage interns and other staff and aid in their developments. Often, by 25, you’re often meeting with SVP’s, controllers, CFO’s and being their point person in the filed. Working in industry won’t even avail yourselves of that direct entrance to the “C” suite at your clients. You’ll get more CPE than you can imagine, will constanly be listening on webcasts on the latest accounting guidance and will be at the forefront of your industry.

    But, to whom much is given, much is required. You’ll be expected to work 55 hrs from Jan 1- March 31 (at a miniumum). You’ll be expected to work weekends around every quater close/year end. You may not get to do those ski vacations in Jan/Feb but have to opt for the later March sessions. The work at the onset of your career might not be as glamorous or forensic as you envisioned, but part of learning and truly managing is knowing how to do the grunt work. You have no idea how many times document services has missed a deadline and I’ve been forced to rush to Kinkos, finish last minute jobs when the staff has gone. In the end, our only real dealiverable is either an opinion or normally an Excel/PPT/Word deliverable. Mastering everything from tracking changes in Word, Pivot Tables in Excel and formatting quality PPT presentations will help you quickly distinguish yourself.

    When you being your first day at a Big Four, keep in mind your starting salary will be higher than the “MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME” in the entire US. In this culture of greed, many compare our salaries to that of ibankers, private equity or hedge fund guys. Of course, they make a ton more. But compare yourself to an AP clerk, a nonprofit accountant or a mid level CPA firm. At 22 when you start, you’ll be making more than 50% of households in the entire US. And you’ve still got 30-40 more years to go. Think of the opportunities. Think of your potential. But never compare your net worth with your self worth.

    Sign on that Big Four line…

  494. @ 492, you posted:

    “For example, layoffs in advisory were not utilization based (the discussions I was aware of were more about long term potential, attitude, quality of work, skillset, etc)”

    That may have been true at the most recent mid-year touchpoint sessions. In fact, that’s been true of every mid-year session I ever attended. However, it is emphatically not the case regarding prior rounds of layoffs, in which a certain number of heads were identified by national leadership based almost entirely on actual YTD utilization numbers. Folks with millions in the pipeline were targeted; one Director who just sold a $3.5 million engagement but hadn’t actually started working on it was laid-off. Those attributes you mentioned had nothing, but nothing to do with the layoff decision … and the local partners had little if any input.

    Of course I can’t speak for all firms, just the one I was with until late last year. But I was in an Advisory practice and I know whereof I speak. (By the way, I left on my own but I was aware of how close to the axe I came in the prior rounds. Knowing how vulnerable I was helped hasten my exit.)

    — Tenacious T.

  495. Ugh. 493… I have no words for you. Enjoy the kool-aid, buddy. From the outside looking in, 493’s arguments seem totally reasonable. Once you sign on that Big Four line, don’t expect the ballparks and nice hotels. Expect “we’re watching your every expense and you are gone in two seconds if you try to get anything nice for yourself on the Firm’s dime.” Times have changed. Maybe 493’s post was true 4-5 years ago. It’s not true anymore. And 493 is going to be fired soon anyway, since his bloated salary (thanks to the good times earlier this decade) is going to look a lot worse than people 3-4 years into it who have been getting crap for raises.

    Reality, people. That’s what we’re here for. Quit the freaking kool-aid dance. I swear…

  496. @495-as a result of my business travel I have been able to take vacations (after client work), visit friends/family, tack-on extra weekend visits, and see places all around the US, Europe, and Asia. This is not from years ago. It is as recent as yesterday. People from my practice are in Asia or on their way in the near future. You may not get all those things as a first year… but you will in time. As for local ball games, Christmas parties, etc — yes, they can and should cut back for now. In fact, they seem to do too much of that even in good years. It is a job afterall — all these things are bonus and should not be expected. But from time to time you can take advantage.

    As for “getting something for yourself on the Firm’s dime” — that would be illegal unless it is an approved activity with business justification and partner approval. If it is purely a self-benefit it is taxable (by law – not cause the partners are after you). You may take advantage of things such as the flight to a client site and adding on extra time for sightseeing while there, but otherwise it is a different form of income.

    Also, where else can you get 5 weeks vacation/PTO in your first year.

  497. PBC – I bet you miss writing that at the top of your workpapers =)

    Let’s make this constructive – since I’ve laid out the perks and drawbacks of life at the Big Four – expound for us in a similar way your job at your current position. As we don’t see the other side of the grass, until after we make the jump, it should prove helpful. Do a pargraph of the pros and likewise for the con (i.e. thus keeping it objective).

  498. @495-what good does name calling and outbursts about things you have no knowledge (someone’s blaoted salary) do? Focus on the facts, and recognize that there is a diversity of experience by people in the B4.

  499. 496 – Govt. gives you the same vacation plus 9-5 hours and a lot more holidays. Also the pay isn’t that much less.

    In addition, the person (493?) who argued above about your ‘income being above 50% of all US households’ — seriously man thats the weakest argument in here. If you live in CA or NY or anywhere else that is actually a RELEVANT market your income would probably still allow you to qualify for government assistance.

  500. To All:

    As we approach the 500 comments mark, I’m going to close this thread to new comments.
    Until I make a new post with a summary of these comments with regard to cuts, I would suggest the following:

    http://retheauditors.com/2008/01/big-4-starting-salaries-the-facts/ For salary updates.
    http://retheauditors.com/2008/01/the-reality-of-working-for-the-big-4/ For pros and cons of Big 4 life
    http://retheauditors.com/2008/12/music-for-chameleons-a-visitors-view-of-the-firms/ For the discussion of the partner model, becoming a partner and partner compensation
    http://retheauditors.com/2008/08/update-deloitte-statement-on-layoffs/ Any updates specifically on Deloitte cuts

    Thanks for al the great discussion. I look forward to more, hopefully under better circumstances.

    Francine

  501. […] blog posts linked to, but the thousands of comments provided by readers in particular on the posts here, here and […]

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