• Ratings, Raises and Promotions – Forced Ranking In The Big 4

    By • Aug 16th, 2010 • Category: Layoffs at Deloitte (And Others), Pure Content, Your Career

    This was originally posted  Going Concern.com on August 12, 2009.

    …there’s definitely collusion/shenanigans going on amongst the big 4 for compensation along with extending dates for promotions. Ratings manipulation is also going on along with unfair treatment of those that tried to go above and beyond….”

    Both Deloitte and KPMG admitted last fall that job cuts were made for economic reasons, removing the taint of “performance issue” from that wave. It’s a small thing, making up for over-hiring, under-managing risks, and sucking in new recruits only to cut them loose a year later.

    But layoffs continue and are occurring in greater numbers at all firms. Are there still so many “performance problems?” How can a “business” that only hires top graduates, puts them through one, sometimes two, internships, an extensive interview process, and programs such as “Mass Career Customization,” still have so many “not performing” or “not a fit?” They’re trying to solve a leadership problem on the backs of their employees. For example, they hire, acquire, and over staff practices where there’s no long-term commitment and no shot, such as PwC’s return to systems integration.

    Quelle timing!

    Big 4 rates are high to pay for their mistakes and their overhead – mandatory training, generous benefits, empty offices, lobbying and political contributions. They’re higher because they theoretically sell a different product – better, better trained, supported by a global network of specialists, utilizing best practices and state of the art tools and methodologies. So who do you cut when “all the children are above average?”
    The answer is: Compare everyone’s performance to each other, instead of to objective criteria.

    It’s called “forced ranking.”

    “Forced ranking is the antidote to inflated ratings and the failure to differentiate…While conventional performance appraisal systems may allow managers to inflate ratings…a forced ranking system ensures that distribution requirements will be met.”

    “Distribution requirements” put someone at the bottom of the list each time. No raise, no promotion, maybe even layoff.

    So what’s the downside?

    “Forced ranking pits associates against each other…someone still must be ranked low, despite meeting performance plan goals…a dysfunctional and hyper-competitive workplace…demoralized staff and a mistrust of leadership. Discrimination lawsuits…”

    The cut-throat, GE-style culture is now embedded in the Big 4. But is that good for their clients? Does it result in better quality audits? Not if you’re the one left behind doing more with fewer people for the sake of achieving partner payout targets. But, “It can’t happen to me because I’m not a loser.”

    Until it does.

    “Jim’s better than Bob but not as good as Anne.” In a nutshell, that’s forced ranking. Unfortunately, if they don’t get better at forecasting, engagement management, and mitigating audit failure risk, most professionals will end up at the bottom of that totem pole at some point, through no fault of their own.

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    62 Responses »

    1. Who do you cut? Whoever the your Partner decides is not drinking the kool-aid.

    2. Most people don’t fit in public. I have been in public for 9 years. The amount of unflexible people I have seen at regional firms and big 4 is astounding. I can’t tell you the number of staff that don’t want to work on a Saturday or put a couple of hours in after 5 on short notice. Besides, during the boom, the turnover rate in public is at least from my point of view, 33%

    3. Has anyone gotten word of raises or promotion bonuses….I have heard rumors ofa firm onlygiving raises to those getting promoted, and also heard rumors of another firm giving only current 1st year staff a small raise to put them above the new incoming staff.

    4. After 7 years in public I’d say that the opposite is true. Most people (with the exception of some spoiled interns who haven’t been properly introduced to their first busy season) are willing to pay their dues and burn the midnight oil to kiss up to their superiors. And most of the high turnover during the boom years tended to be the workaholics who burned themselves out after 2 or 3 busy seasons rather than slackers who weren’t willing to work hard. If anything I’d say the staff most likely to quit early are the ones who had sacrificed their weekends and evenings and were rewarded with a paltry raise (or this year, zero raise) and no bonus.

    5. @ anon—- you seem surprised people don’t want to work on Saturdays, and surprised that they want a smidge of notice when they’re required to burn hours after 5. How dare they want to use their free time as *heaven forbid* they see fit, or to just hang out with their significant other or family. I presume that, if you haven’t already, you’re aiming to attach the word “partner” to your name.

    6. I agree with Philip, a lot of my experience has been that people do actually understand if they need to come in extra to get something done, but when you essentially take over their time in busy season for 1/4 of the year and then have to additionally work late in the summer and other points it can start getting difficult. There is also a “what have you done for me lately” attitude amongst the management. For example I was working 70+ hour weeks in busy season with a wife and kids that I barely go to see awake. Now I role off to another job (outside of busy season) and I’m getting flak because I want to leave by 6:30 at night. They don’t care that I put strain on my personal relationship to get the job done recently, its more about what have you done on my job now.

    7. This is what happens when people are pushed to the limit and not paid the big bucks…. someone who stayed till 6am sent the below note to her manager. She was a senior.
      Dear NAME

      I regret to inform you that today is my last day with the Firm.

      NAME, I have left my laptop in your office.

      Good luck with the remainder of busy season.

      The hours are ridiculous. How can you tell people they MUST work a MINUMUM of 55hrs a week. AND they have to work saturdays AND sundays??? As a person with bills to pay – 62k doesnt take me very far in NYC….
      Forget a social life… some people need to sleep….. i think it’s unsustainable…and at least when you were allowed to chill out in the non busy times you could say, hey well it only gets crazy 4 months in a year. But now, it’s all about utilization…. apparantly even when we are not in busy season we need to charge 50hrs a week…..

    8. In contrast, here’s a very recent goodbye email from somebody in my (non-Big 4, corporate) accounting office, whose retirement luncheon was held today (no edits except those necessary to protect the company and individual privacy) —

      Greetings to all,

      By now, most of you have probably heard that most of the … job functions have recently been centralized to Financial Shared Services. Rather than take on a new position in the company, I have decided that this is the best time for me to move on out. My last day here will be Friday, August 14, which will leave me just one month shy of 28 years with COMPANY, meaning I’ve been working here more than half of my life!

      It’s been quite a ride! Through my many years with the company, I have met a lot of people, made a lot of friends, and also seen a lot of friends and co-workers come and go, while managing to survive all sorts of layoffs, re-orgs, and downsizings. I hired into what was at the time the old … department, and after a few stressful years there I wanted out and seriously looked into transferring to another department. But the man who hired me, NAME, who was a kind of father figure to me, talked me out of it, saying that no matter what ever happens to the company in terms of layoffs or downsizing, … will always be there! (Who knew?). So while he may not have had the ability to see into the next century, he was for the most part correct, and I owe my longevity with the company mostly to him, and I will be forever grateful to him for looking out for me.

      The closest I came to being laid off was in ’91, but my supervisor at the time, NAME, fought to keep me on his staff, and I will never forget that, big guy! Then a couple of years later, the groups … were merged together under NAME, along with some surviving members of his old group, and I was again fortunate to be included as one of the surviving staff members of the newly created … Audit function. So thanks for keeping me on board, NAME! It’s been a pleasure being a part of your Accounting organization for these many years! I eventually began working directly for NAME in ’95 in … Audit and … Accounting, and still do today. I can honestly say that he has been the best boss you can ever hope to work for, as he is fair, a good leader and teacher, extremely knowledgeable, a good communicator, and truly cares about the people who work for him, both professionally and personally. I’ve never worked for any boss for a longer period of time, and it’s been a real pleasure, NAME. You’ve also been a good friend to go to for help or advice on both work and life issues, and I plan on soon extracting some advice and recommendations from you regarding my next set of golf clubs (which will be my retirement present from me to me)!

      Another person I worked with closely over the past several years who has meant a lot to me was NAME. Even though he was never my supervisor, I learned a lot from him too, working closely with him on many projects and assignments, and I felt a true loss when he left last year. His departure hit me hard. Miss ya, big guy, and I really REALLY hope you can make it out here from … for a visit real soon! Hope you’re enjoying your retirement as much as I hope to be soon!

      Over the years, I’ve had a lot of different job functions and responsibilities in the … Audit/Accounting departments, and all of you know me from one area or another. In … I was always everybody’s friend, the good guy, there to help out and resolve … problems. But my personal favorite job function was getting out of the office to perform in-person audits, being the bad guy, throughout all of …, which made everybody run and hide whenever they would see me coming, clipboard in hand! But in more recent years, I’ve been grounded more often than not since the inception of …, focusing more on processing cost transfers, updating policies and procedures, manuals, interfacing with … auditors, assisting with the conversion to …, and conducting classes for new hires. It was through one or more of these job functions that I was able to come in contact with so many people over the decades, probably more than most people do, having worked for a service organization. And while I truly feel that this is the right time to bid farewell, I will take a lot of pleasant memories with me, along with quite a few friendships. I wish you all the best of luck in the years ahead, and I will miss not seeing you or being around to assist you on a daily basis. Be good!

      Interesting contrast with the prior goodbye note, yes?

      — Tenacious T.

    9. @5

      Shari – When you sign up for a Big 4 firm, after 5 and Saturdays are no longer your “free time”. Those are now work hours. That’s the expectation in public accounting, and if it wasn’t communicated to you before you started, (which appears to be the case with big4employee’s friend) then shame on the firm. So yes, people would be surprised when you are not willing to work during work hours.

    10. I’m so impressed with the Big 4’s ability to brainwash their staff into thinking that working 24/7 and spending all your free time with your colleagues is cool. They convince you that you have to wear certain $$$ clothes, get certain haircuts, eat at certain restaurants, drink at certain bars, drive expensive cars and save no $$$, because you are so cool. And (drum roll) if your old friends and family don’t understand, it is because they are loosers and you shouldn’t hang out with them. The employees have bought this crap for years. Then they get laid off. Tossed out on their ass. Guess that means you ain’t cool no more. Oh please!

    11. wow someone seems like they enjoy spending their free time in front of a laptop….(cough, @clown college, cough)….i wonder if you’ve already changed your home address to your office location?

      like @anon said, a lot of people to dont want to waste their most of their lives working in big 4 or regional public accounting. people who don’t appreciate their free time (cough, cough..post #9 above) forget that the purpose of life is to maximize on as many experiences as possible…traveling, sports, romance, family, friends, and yes, career….the more you can accomodate these things in your life, the more fulfilling and enriching it will be. so when you get old, you can share with your close ones many stories…from how you accomplished so much in your career to when you went on asafari ride or when you visited the 7th ancient world wonder or your exclusive ventures with your significant other…i dont think you wanna spend nearly all of your 20s and 30s ticking and tying and documenting to the point where the only thing you can brag about is how you were able to go 5 days straight w/o sleep auditing leases for a fortune 10 company. seriously, along with those who slave at wall street as investment bankers or hedge fund managers, i wonder if some people who have been working in public accounting for some time are truly happy. your career is very important but so is moderation and balance…the people that anon @2 was describing acknowledge just that.

    12. Clowncollege, your post indicates you’re one of those leaders that staff should avoid working for. I’m in a major role on a Fortune 100 client audit. I have worked Saturdays, and go home at 6 during the summer and all that. Yes, we ask a lot of people sometimes. But how do you rationalize the mindset that you can screw with people’s time like that and not expect them to view it as a sacrifice?

      “Those are now work hours.” This is Big 4, not the Marine Corps. If someone said that to me when the DoD still owned me, I would have agreed. But as a civilian now, I have to laugh at that kind of attitude. I see seniors/managers do this all the time, drag people into the office on Saturday just for sh*ts and giggles. And I hear about jobs where people work until 10-11 during non-peak seasons, and they’re filled with stoics like you. In all these cases, I have to wonder if you’ve considered the firms’ push towards efficiency, and if you’ve ever considered how poorly run or poorly staffed your job is.

      Working until 10 every night in non-peak months indicates a problem – you’re too chicken to staff more people for budget’s sake, you employ inefficient methods that add no value to the client, or some combination thereof. Now perhaps it really is that you have that much work – then you ought to bring on more people. It is scientific fact that they’ll be more refreshed and effective, even if that messes with your beloved budget.

      Or we could just overwork people and call them crybabies, which shows zero leadership.

    13. I think you all missed my point. Accepting an offer at a public accounting firm is something you do of your own free will. No one holds a gun to your head and forces you to do it. And when you make that choice, you should know what you’re getting into. If you don’t know what you’re getting into, from an hours commitment standpoint, then you didn’t do your homework and someone misled you during the recruiting process. If you knew what you were getting into and then complain about it – well I really don’t know what to say to you. Tony, I never said it wasn’t a sacrifice. It is a huge sacrifice, one you should know about and be willing to make before your first day with a firm. In short, if you want to spend your 20s and 30s on a safari and watching the sunset over the pyramids, and being home at 5:30 every day, don’t become an auditor.

      And by the way, Tony, everything you assume about me is the opposite of reality. Staff and seniors requested to be on my jobs. I never made someone work on Saturday for sh*ts and giggles- but they knew there was a chance they would have to in order to meet a deadline. That part of the job is called being a professional. I never worked past 7 on a non-busy season job, and I was often accused of screwing around too much at work. And my jobs were routinely the most efficient and profitable jobs in the office. I’m not saying this to brag, because no one here knows each other and who cares. I’m saying this so you know that your stereotypes don’t hold true outside of your own personal experiences. And I hate getting personal, but it’s obvious from your comments about budgets, and bringing on staff killing your budgets, that you’re young enough in your career to not understand how a budget works. So try to drop those stereotypes, and don’t make the same mistakes you see your bosses making now.

    14. So anyway…. this post is about forced rankings. Is anyone going to actually post about forced rankings? Personally, I’m glad FM has returned to a topic directly in her wheelhouse, but disappointed she didn’t post some of her opinions.

    15. I’ll appreciate any advice!!

      I’m starting in AUDIT with a BIG 4 this November. I’m just preparing for the CPA exam for the time being. I heard about the insane hours to look forward to, so I guess now is the only time to study, without getting distracted with work stress.

      I understand the massive cuts are spreading… my start date got moved back a couple months. I’m taking preventive action by not leasing a year with an apartment, but just rent a room with month-to-month contract.

      Won’t be buying any big toys (Gucci things, car, luxury items) ….ha! Where would I wear it to anyway? My study room?

      Anyway, I’d like to know what this job entails. We were never given the 411 exactly what we will do, what hours we’ll work, etc. All I know is we’ll be in an audit engagement team, commuting to client sites. I’m guessing we’ll be supporting the manager/partner auditor. How do we support them? File papers? Actual calculations? Count inventory? All I know is we’ll be going to Disney World for training. As warned, I know it’ll be the last ounce of fun in a long while.

      When are busy seasons for auditors? This would help, especially in planning when to take the CPA exams.

      How can one do “well” in supporting their manager.

      I read The Auditor: An Instructional Novella by James K. Loebbecke. Quick summary: A newbie comes in to work at a Big 4 as auditor, then later become partner in 10 years. The character seemed to know a lot sampling and finding errors in client’s internal control. I just don’t know if I would be able to do that.

      I should take a chill pill, but I guess with all this news going around about common lay offs…I sometimes wonder if I should start getting my resumes ready already.

      Thanks for everyone’s support. I am addicted to this site!!

    16. @Clown College Comment #13

      I can’t disagree. Professional services and, in particular audit and consulting in the Big 4, are not for everyone. Audit is, in my mind, a vocation. So in addition to the client service aspects, which require you to do things on their timeline, based on their needs, given their requirements and your commitments, you are also serving a broader set of interests, shareholders and the capital markets system. Big job, but somebody does it and it takes, at times, long hours, unpredictable schedules, and long hours. Did I mention long hours? I won’t get into the issue of “face time” and bad budgets, and squeezing more work on less people so you can hoard chargeablity… For another day. But in general, the nature of professional services is that it has peaks and valleys of activity.

      The difference now is that there’s no predictable payoff. When I worked for the firms, at least in the KPMG Consulting/BearingPoint days (not necessarily PwC period) I felt that if I put the time in, did well, and asked for extra – went the extra mile – I would be rewarded. I did when I put my name in the hat for not one but two tours of duty in Latin America. I was rewarded as the first female Managing Director in Latin America. I had much more people responsibility and P&L authority than most any other partner/MD in the US except the national leaders.

      Nowadays, however, it’s a crapshoot. Was talking to a girlfriend last night who is traveling almost 100% internationally for her company. She is diversifying her contacts and mentors within the company (and out) because you can’t bet on only your boss or anyone who tells you to ‘trust” them. Everyone is selfish, looking out for themselves and their own survival. You could work your ass off for one boss and, lo and behold, that boss ends up out on the street in a political coup or cost cutting measure that you have no control over. You’ve lost your champion, your cover, your sponsor. I read hundreds of stories a week from those who did everything right, 150%, only to realize it’s not what you do, what know, but who you know at the right time, and there’s a “what have you done for me lately” mentality that is so demoralizing. There is no compact between employer and employee anymore . This is especially true in the Big 4 where partners are also in survival mode. Most of the younger ones are not truly an “equity” partner and are pretty much just glorified staff. No power, no authority, blindly marching to orders to protect their small piece of the rock.
      So count on no one in particular, more than one person in general, and only on yourself.

    17. ClownCollege@13 – some good one-liners there, but it doesn’t mesh with the fact that your average comment amounts to “suck it up, whiners” so glad to have chased more out of you. Nice rhetorical tactic, telling me that working long hours/saturdays is “part of being a professional,” as though I hadn’t thought and even said much the same thing in my previous post, as though I don’t work the same conditions you do, as though I don’t continue to work at a B4. Anyways….

      I’ve made sacrifices in a prior life I’m certain accountants will never face in their careers, so relative inexperience yes, youth no, and I could teach you plenty about leadership, as your online presence clearly demonstrates. Your last sentences show you must work at a different firm – of course there is thought of budgets when bringing on extra staff, if you’d care to enlighten me as to why that isn’t accurate at your jobs or firm, I’mm all ears. Yes, I know partner and manager time is more expensive, so you can omit that part.

      If you’d like me to drop my stereotypes, don’t embody them with 80% of your posts, and don’t pretencd you haven’t stereotyped all disgruntled auditors into the same bucket..

      As for forced rankings, which CC hasn’t opined on yet – I get the fact that economic conditions are forcing firms to “cut into the meat” and lay off people who have “met expectations,” but telling people they suddenly “aren’t a fit” is a bit ham-handed, and to me shows a reluctance to just level with people. I don’t sympathize with the firm here, I’m not sure how you cut when “all the children are above average.” But based on comments in this board from those recently laid off, pointing to performance or fit isn’t always the most honest answer.

    18. Clown College @ 13 posted: “That part of the job is called being a professional.”

      See, that’s where I think the facade wears thin. I think most of the accounting world aspires to professional status, like a lawyer or doctor. A professional sets his/her own hours and gets the job done, regardless of any sacrifices along the way. A professional is a “pro” as opposed to an amateur. A professional owns his/her own business and gets paid for results. An amateur isn’t in it for the money and doesn’t get paid for results. The thing is, I don’t believe the majority of Big 4 staff are “pros”.

      Most of the Big 4 are employees. They are told when it’s time to come in on a Saturday, and when they will stay late. They are told what needs to be done and their work is closely supervised (sometimes not closely enough). Sure, they get paid but not for results. They get paid for showing up (it’s called a salary).

      You can argue that partners are professionals and it would be hard to disagree. But the rest of the staff? Doubtful. Yet they are told that if they don’t do what is required, then they aren’t being “professional”. It’s a stick used to beat people up, wielded by others such as Clown College.

      You want to be a professional, then start your own firm. Otherwise, you’re an employee and you should avail yourself of all the labor and health laws designed to protect employees from tyrannical bosses. And I’m not going to even go into the idea that, by cutting staff and then making the survivors work harder, the partners are lining their own pockets. Nor am I going to mention the PwC unpaid overtime litigation,where certain non-CPA staff are claiming back overtime pay. My point is more direct: don’t tell me to act like a professional if you are unwilling to treat me like one.

      Just sayin’….

      — Tenacious T.

    19. It’s true that all of us who accepted the offer letter from a Big 4 firm knew what we were getting into. Long hours, working weekends and other sacrifices that come with the territory. But in the past (pre-2008) the reward for working grueling hours during busy season was that we enjoyed a somewhat lighter workload during the summer months followed by a decent raise at the end of the year as recognition of our hard work.

      Today the rewards are gone but the expectation of continued sacrifice has actually increased. The workload has increased with busy season hours extending into the summer months for many of us but salaries are frozen and every few months they sack a bunch of our colleagues with little warning. For those of you Sr. Managers with hopes of making Partner your chances of getting into the big club are worse now than at any other time in recent memory, current Partners are getting demoted/terminated so few (if any) new Partners will be made this year. In the past I would have recommended any staff to stick around until at least manager to get the experience and the title but under the current environment I now recommend all staff to stick around long enough to get their CPA license and then get out. Get out sooner rather than later because there is no upside to sticking around. It’s true that in private the pay situation isn’t much better but at least you’ll have a chance to enjoy some work-life balance instead of the expectation busy season sacrifices with no reward.

    20. I thoroughly enjoy a thoughtful and meaningful debate about what is wrong/right with the Big 4. I was recently promoted to senior at one of the Big 4 and often disagree with a lot of the tactics and method used by not only the firm for which I work, but also the others where I have close friends. I would venture to say that most (if not all) of the individuals who post on this forum have experience in the Big 4 or still work at one of the firms. Here are some thoughts and take them for what they are worth…

      As stated above, I was recently promoted to senior and signed my initial offer letter in March 2006 following an internship during busy season. I have spent the last two years working on an privately-held OCEO client from October through March (I interned at this client previously). I knew prior to accepting my offer that during busy season I would be required to work 60+ hours a week during busy season and several Saturdays during this time period. Additionally, I have worked on a client with a July year-end and during my “second busy season” I not only worked 55+ hours a week, but also a couple of Saturdays (including Labor Day).

      Also, on a side note, I’d like to say that during my first year I married the love of my life and we now have a one year old son who is the coolest kid on the planet. I’d like to shed some light on the other side of the coin that so often gets overlooked here. I have worked hard and put forth so much effort into my work, not for notoriaty in the firm or recognition of my superiors, but because I was taught throughout my life to take pride in the work I do and do it to the best of my ability. Whether that was mowing someone’s lawn, flipping a burger, or auditing stock options.

      That being said I feel as though my effort has paid off as I have been compensated fairly, build strong relationships with my peers and clients, and also maintained a work-life balance that has allowed me to come home to a happy wife and smiling child who know they are the number one priority in my life. I think that while some of your experiences were miserable and probably unfair, I think many of these experiences vary from office to office or even engagement to engagement. Every partner, sr. manager/manager, or senior I have worked for has always been super flexible and super accomodating to any needs that I had related to my family or personal life. I can say I disagree with the firing/layoff methods employed by my firm and the others, and that in certain situations people who were let go should have lasted longer than others who are still around. However, overall I have enjoyed my experience and those that I have worked with and for.

      SIDE NOTE: Tenacious Truman, I enjoy reading your insights and perspectives typically, but I have a couple of gripes with your post @18. I agree that most of the Big 4 staff are hardly professionals. Although, based on your definition of a “professional”, I know many lawyers and doctors who do not get the privileges you have outlined above. I also know many auditors in the Big 4 (from senior-level through partner) who do. I’m not sure what dictionary you are using to define professionals, but I think I am going to have to disagree with your narrowly defined ideas of professionals. I agree not all Big 4 staff or employees are “professionals”, but I believe a person’s presentation of themself and their expertise in the field in which they work (that part we definitely agree on). I think you will find that the professionals in the Big 4 firms are certainly more sparse these days than in the past, but there are still those out there and that is what I strive to be. Thank you for your continued insight as I do enjoy your perspective.

    21. ARM @ 20 —

      You posted, “I’m not sure what dictionary you are using to define professionals, but I think I am going to have to disagree with your narrowly defined ideas of professionals.” Let me respond.

      First, from on-line Merriam-Webster’s.

      1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

      2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs b : having a particular profession as a permanent career c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return

      3 : following a line of conduct as though it were a profession

      So I was mostly thinking about the second definition, distinguishing a professional golfer (somebody who makes a living winning at golf) from an amateur weekend player. Most of the staff get paid for showing up (salary), though of course they get rewarded for performance (promotions, bonuses, salary increases). I was also thinking that, in the current environment of “do an exceptional job to keep your job so that you can do it again next year” there’s even less obvious monetary reward involved in the work. But I also like the first definition, and its emphasis on “conforming to the technical or ethical standards” of a profession. Nowhere in either definition does one see any reference to working insane hours or giving up a pretense at having a personal life, which Clown College stated were part of being a “professional.” (Your post to the contrary being an exception that proves the rule).

      I also googled the term and found this gem from wikipedia:

      A professional is a member of a vocation founded upon specialised educational training. The word professional traditionally means a person who has obtained a degree in a professional field. The term professional is used more generally to denote a white collar working person, or a person who performs commercially in a field typically reserved for hobbyists or amateurs. In western nations, such as the United States, the term commonly describes highly educated, mostly salaried workers, who enjoy considerable work autonomy, economic security, a comfortable salary, and are commonly engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work. Less technically, it may also refer to a person having impressive competence in a particular activity.

      Main criteria for professional include the following:
      1. Academic qualifications – a doctoral or law degree – i.e., university college/institute.
      2. Expert and specialised knowledge in field which one is practising professionally.
      3. Excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession.
      4. High quality work in (examples): creations, products, services, presentations, consultancy, primary/other research, administrative, marketing or other work endeavours.
      5. A high standard of professional ethics, behaviour and work activities while carrying out one’s profession (as an employee, self-employed person, career, enterprise, business, company, or partnership/associate/colleague, etc).

      [Footnotes omitted.]

      Again, nowhere does one see the need to work insane hours posted as a condition of “professionalism.” To the contrary, criteria leading to “professional” status include “high quality work” and a “high standard of professional ethics”. Also the phrase “considerable work autonomy” was mentioned; I don’t think you really get that (unless you are lucky) until you make experienced Senior or even Manager … and even then your work is reviewed in great detail (or should be). Anybody who’s been on the receiving end of a Partner’s rant when the Partner doesn’t think the work plan was properly planned, will agree that the “autonomy” part is not really there often enough, though of course it is there (moreso) if you’re a Partner.

      — Tenacious T.

    22. I will agree it is hard to refer to any staff as a “professional” and I also agree that the “professional” title is best reserved for an experienced senior at minimum. I also agree that the working insane hours are not part of being a professional, but I also think that it does not preclude one from being a professional as it appears that you are asserting (I may be interpreting your point incorrectly, but that is how it appears you are presenting it). I think in principle we agree mostly with one another without playing semantics on some of the smaller issues.

      I know several doctors who are family friends that work insane hours all of the time and stay on call at ridiculous times. I also have lawyer friends who have worked through the night on more than one occasion, and luckily have a shower in the workout area of their offices so they can shower and change the next morning. I consider all of these individuals professionals, as well as ALMOST every manager I have worked for and MOST of the seniors I have worked for.

      I appreciate your well thought out response and I think it clarified some of the points on which I thought we had originally differed.

    23. @22 and @TT

      “Professional ” is also often defined in the law, at the state level, when it comes to deciding whether someone is exempt or non-exempt for overtime pay. Critical issue in the California PwC case.


    24. ARM @ 22,

      Last post on this point, but your post merited a reply. Originally, there were only three professions that were so designated. They were: (1) medicine, (2) law, and (3) divinity. The others, including accounting, came to the party much, much later.

      — Tenacious T.

    25. TT@24 – aren’t you forgetting the oldest profession? ;-)

    26. Since this thread is supposed to be about Ratings, Raises and Promotions – Forced Ranking In The Big 4 I won’t try to follow the thread’s current discussion direction too much.

      Here @Deloitte we have the 1-5 rating system. 1 is at the top. I have posted before on how politics can govern ratings (occasionally utilized in order to provide financial increases where management teams want to distribute them as opposed to where they might actually be deserved). In my @Deloitte career I was only a 3 once: my first review. I’ve seesawed back and forth between a 1 and a 2 ever since. I argue for a 1 every year based on my professionalism, which in my view should be the key criterion. When work is at hand I do it, when it has to be done and whatever time, day, night, weekend. That’s only a part of how I define professionalism. I also act in a professional manner and bring an accumulated knowledge and understanding of business practice and knowledge to any table I sit at.
      Might one hear me partaking in a so-called pity party: sure. Hey, I’m just as human as the next person. But one would also not only hear me turn that party to a positive direction before allowing it to disband but would also hear me get confirmation that those involved recognized there was just as strong a positive aspect to what had prompted the discussion as the bad aspects discussed.
      If I am involved in a project, working within a team, etc, I am usually working at or above the level of what would be expected by the Senior Manager. I’m usually the one writing the documentation, or initiating the first draft (and on my own initiative), or re-writing the work of my superiors.

      It is no secret that here @D there is a curve. The majority of the staff are rated 3s, a smaller percentage 2s and the smallest percentage 1s. In fact there is an equation/scale of how many 1s and 2s there can be for every 3 (or department). Interestingly, printers, fax machines and copiers are similarly allocated (based on the number of staff locations). So, if a team is made up of a small number of individuals they rate at the most one 1. If there are 2 top performers someone has to make the decision as to which gets it. Depending on how that team fits within the organization a management team might make the determination. If these candidates don’t have someone to champion for them they could be out of luck on getting a 1, or even a 2 for that matter.

      When discussing Forced Ranking and ratings I’ve often heard that if a team is top notch and filled with top performers then they are really all 3s, not 1s. They are average for their group, not above average. I myself have been told when moving into a new position that I was going to be ranked lower based on the fact that I cannot be rated at the top in a new position because the nature of a new position is such that it is new and as such I could not immediately achieve the same level of productivity, etc that I had at my previous position where I had received my high ranking (something I have fought on every occasion).

    27. Forced ranking is taking place in the STL D&T office. Plus, they are incorporating in managers’ (all managers) goals a minimum annual sales goal of $500K. The great thing is that the lazy partners ine the office have not sold that much in years. Raises, except for those getting promoted to managers were terrible:
      1% for 1st years
      0-3% for experienced managers
      All this in addition to requiring people to have 50-55 hours of billable hours! I must say that this is not the Firm that I knew a few years ago and its a shame that current leadership have driven it to the ground like this.

    28. Anony @ 27 —

      You posted that all managers have, as a minimum goal, “sales … of $500K.” I’m interested in how the metric “sales” is defined and measured. It used to be that you could get sales credit for participating in a PD effort that led to win, or by participating in a proposal that led to a win. Didn’t really matter what role you filled, it wasn’t like you were actually using your personal relationships to win new work for the firm. I remember this one guy — nice guy — who built his career on shepherding proposals through the internal firm approvals and “reviewing” them for things like proper firm language and mandatory terms. Didn’t actually add any real value, but showed multi-million dollars worth of sales credit each year at review time.

      Because, seriously, if you are a manager and can actually sell $500K of new work each year, work that the firm would otherwise not get, why are you still with the firm? Time to start your own business! At the very least, every other firm wants to talk to you, right now this instant, about a significant opportunity they have been saving just for people who can ACTUALLY SELL WORK.

      So which is it today at Deloitte … get your name on a proposal, or show the “lazy partners” how it’s done?

      — Tenacious T.

    29. I began work with Deloitte Tax in a North Central office in September of 2008, so this past summer was my first year-end review. The North Central region was extremely adamant about “forcing the bell curve,” with 80% of staff expected to be 3’s, and 10% of staff expected to be 1’s or 2’s. In order to reduce the bucket of potential 1’s and 2’s, a directive was handed down from the RTMP that EVERY new staff in the past year was to be rated a 3, no questions asked. I had received 2’s on all scorecards for mid-year and year-end, and had been given high praise by my managers during the course of the year. So, I was extremely disappointed that my year-end rating was not actually based at all on my performance during the year. Of course, now my compensation is tied to a performance rating that was aribitrarily assigned. This lack of transparency and accountability with leadership continues to astound me.

    30. NCTaxStaff – that is par for the course, unfortunately. It is draped in the idea that with fewer low performers, the curve shifts, and therefore some 2s become 3s – okay, fair enough. I see two problems with that – first, if you exceed expectations, why does it not make sense to continue to call rate a 2? Is that meant to be a relative term, or should there be objective criteria? The bell curve, when adhered to, is of course forced rankings to facilitate headcount reductions.

      And second, as I witnessed (and felt) personally, some years didn’t have much of a bell curve at all, and noone gave me a good answer as to “why,” because there isn’t a good answer. If 75% of people in a year are 1/2, that’s not much of a bell. It’s just who gets hooked up, and who doesn’t. That’s the scary part of forced ranking, that politics plays such a significant role.

    31. @29 & 30 —

      I concur with Tony Rezco’s comment about the “scary” role of politics in the forced rankings. But I’m fascinated by the idea that there could be “a directive from the RTMP that EVERY new staff … was to be rated a 3, no questions asked.” Given that such a ranking affects compensation, one might conclude that economic damages resulted, especially when an individual had clearly received higher ratings on scorecards and feedback forms. I.e., but for such a directive, the individual would have been rated higher, which would have led to a raise/bonus.

      Such a directive might be a very nice “smoking gun” in employment-related litigation, were one to consider such a course of action.

      When I was working in the Big 4 world, we were told that the primary reason for frequent documented feedback, mid-year and year-end discussions, and similar actions was to “protect the firm” and to demonstrate how equally everybody was being treated. When year-end ratings didn’t match inputs, the inputs were changed or a long-winded description of how they were weighted to arrive at the ratings was generated. All in the name of “protecting the firm.”

      Such a memo would seem to be a great example of putting the firm at risk. But then again, I’m not a lawyer, so what do I know?

      — Tenacious T.

    32. Accounting in the Big firms is like an abusive relationship, where staff are suffering from codependency. When times are good its flowers and hugs, but when times are bad there’s a big smack down. Then when times are good again, it’s “I’m sorry, here’s some gifts so we can make up”.

      The firms are losing a lot of moral capital with employees (except maybe those that have quenched their thirst from the well that overfloweth with kool-aid) and when the economy starts to pick up you will have a lot of staff threatening to leave. Management will then try to woo staff back with some raises, promises of promotions and other “extras” so they stay in the relationship and continue to work the hours. Some will leave for other opportunities, leaving more work for the people that stay, less work life balance, and some extra compensation to ease the pain.Then, ultimately, it will be out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new as a new batch of unassuming graduates get woo’ed by trips to Disneyland and fancy dinners.

      It should be interesting to see the face of accounting after this recession, it’s exposed a lot of the stuff at the firms that would otherwise be swept under the rug, both in the firm-client relationships and the firm-employee ones. Partners will be continuously looking for ways to try to get back to the SOX heyday, where client’s came begging for audits and will be politically pushing for the next big thing (XBRL, IFRS?).

      Gotta love accounting…

    33. TT @ 31,

      During my time at D&T (laid off in one of the more recent “waves”), scorecards and feedback forms were not even shared with employees! Although repeatedly requested, I and others were told that this information was “confidential” and that blended comments (with specific references that could identify the authors removed) would be only shared verbally, and this “documentation” was not included in the formal performance review form. One can only imagine the sense of distrust which grew among the staff. This “approach” also seems to be rooted in a belief that the infamous “bell curve” is not that widely known – come on, even new college graduates are aware of ratings processes, and good companies are generally believed to be using more progressive and positive approaches to rate and review staff – a good performance review process speaks for itself. I found it eye-opening that an organization expousing an ability to market a “Human Capital” service does not itself practice what it expouses – enough said.

    34. TT @ 31 – in the office I was in at D, it was normal for all first years who joined around September to be rated 3s come the year end (March/April) on the basis that they hadn’t been here long enough to distinguish themselves. Not that I agree with that logic as I met 1st years who I would have chosen over a 2nd or 3rd year in many cases , but that’s how it was. The whole process is so screwed up and gets a bit worse every year, that it’s only when you step back and think about it (like many of us have had the chance to do) that you say “what the……?”

      @33 – wow – I have never heard of people not being shown scorecards before. People not completing scorecards and passing on verbal comments instead so you can’t seen them is one thing, but not actively refusing to share them.

    35. I often wonder if the partners consider the mathematical aspects of the raise/bonus percentages. Like what 1%, 2%, 3% actually comes out as and what it looks like post taxes – Years ago a colleague of mine someone vocalized that they were so disillusioned with their 2% raise that they would no longer work at the level of productivity that they had. The way they looked at it Deloitte could take back the 2% right now (if I remember correctly it came out to something like a $800.00 raise – divided by 26 paychecks that’s in the area of $15 a week – not much when you think about how productive you might have been – even for a non productive employee).

      I once had a manager who questioned how they could keep me as productive as I had been given that the increase I would get was going to be similarly inconsequential. My first thought was “it’s kind of strange that a senior manager is asking a subordinate how to keep them productively motivated”. When I gave them what I believed was a valid response (utilize the other compensation programs like the applause program) their response was something like “we could look at trying for one a quarter”. I responded “How about asses every project I work on for award justification”. The senior manager did not respond that they were willing to follow my suggestion. In reality, later in the year when I brought the subject up again they responded “that the submission process involved too much paperwork to put me in for any award at all”.

      I’ve discussed in this forum plenty of times owning your own decisions on accepting the work situation in a partnership at a big4 like D. So, I’m a big boy, and I am still here: different manager, not much of a difference in how I feel compensated or in what I see my management doing in order to keep me motivated (compensation-wise). My chance at a 1%, 2%, 3% raise/bonus is all I’m gonna get, and I’ll continue to live with it, but, I have to think to myself, how valid is that old saying that you might hear any prostitute use “I’m doing it on my terms” when the terms aren’t mine because I’m just accepting them based on the limitation of my options.

    36. If you’re complaining about 1%, 2% or 3% ratings – perhaps Big Four accounting isn’t for you. It sounds like money is your sole motivator and source of pride. Perhaps you should consider a career in ibanking, hedge funds or another front office position where you can rake in the loot. Believe it or not, there are people here who enjoy client service, discussing accounting principles and audit work in general. If that’s not for you, great. The longer you stay in a job you don’t enjoy – the more of life you waste. I work for Deloitte and enjoy it. Even if I got a 1% raise.

    37. I wasn’t aware that job satisfaction and decent compensation were mutually exclusive. Silly me.

    38. 36 – Mona Charen wrote a book with a title that applies to you, though I won’t get personal here. 35 raises legitimate concerns.

      You epitomize the irony of the “hunker down” mentality of staff and seniors. You’re having to sound like that, precisely because many partners are solely motivated by money and ‘rake in the loot’. Since you’re such a fan of client service and discussing audit principles, as I am, I’d love to discuss with you how those both suffer when 1) we have fewer people taking on more responsibilities and 2) we spend an inordinate amount of time discussing “leverage” and R10 and can’t focus as much as we should on the actual job at hand. How silly to tell people in lower tax brackets to suck it up and enrich those who make 80 times the poverty line.

      You must not have enjoyed management courses in college. In any business, which we are always told exists only to make a profit, those ungrateful little sh*ts always look out for themselves, too! The workers are revolting! You’re not special yet! Well, until the little crunchies are biologically hardwired to enjoy doing more for less, you’ll just have to deal with it.

    39. Okay, I did get personal, but you deserved it.

    40. All I can say in response to 33 & 34 is this.

      If you are not going to actually rate a certain class of people, for whatever reason, wouldn’t it save a lot of nonbillable hours by, you know, not actually rating them? Just promulgate a firm or regional policy that says, “we don’t rate you or rank you until you’ve been with the firm at least 12 months or 24 or 36 months. Until you actually receive a rating, all staff in your class will be rated exactly the same. Except for regional differences from cost of living indices and approved spot bonuses for extraordinary performance, all staff in your class will receive exactly the same compensation.” Doing this would reduce admin costs, right?

      I’m not sure how you recognize or incentivize performance with that philosophy, but if that’s the way it is, why not admit it? Just get rid of the facade and be straightforward about your actual process.

      — Tenacious T.

    41. TT: that’s essentially the end result of what I saw – which was a regional informal policy I guess. I don’t recall for certain, but I’m pretty sure that it was never communicated formally though – i.e. it was left to counseling managers to deliver the “good news” to first years. I wonder if there were HR reasons for not communicating it formally?

      Talk about a great way to start people on the motivational rollercoaster of the Big 4: “Welcome, and by the way, it’ll take us a year to tell you if you’re any good or not”. Then factor in the issues / questions about the quality of feedback received when the feedback provider is someone who’s been on the job for a whole 18 months, and you wonder how college hires survive the feedback process… :-)

    42. @Ex-DT

      If that’s the policy, then how do they justify cutting anyone after less than 12-18 months for ‘performance” reasons? That’s been done. It’s all a crock of crap and there should be lawsuits, especially when any particular group is disproportionately targeted.

    43. As a longtime employee in the services side of the business (marketing, facilities, admin, HR) I was appalled when my manager declared to the whole team that it is “impossible” to get better than a “3” in the first year after you have been promoted. I was also told that although I got a “1” this year, it will be nearly impossible to get a “1” again next year.

    44. @36 – another kool aid victim

      *shakes head*

    45. @36 I call bullshit. There is no one who does big 4 because they like it. There is obviously some enjoyable aspects such as the technical accounting and the working with other young people. But you enjoy working 60 hours a week for months on end? You like working with grumpy assholes at your clients? No one likes those aspects of the job and they are the hardest to handle.

      There was a social contract. If you keep giving us good raises, we will work long ass hours and put up with petty bullshit. That contract has been broken. And there is no light at the endnof the tunnel. Recent projections show lower revenue this year over last. If revenue is lower, does anyone expect raises to be better next year? Who is willing to wait 2 more years minimum to make significantly more than they are making now? If I wanted to work 3 years at the same payrate, I would be doing less stressful work. I may just do that

    46. @36 – What flavor is it this time? Is it the D&T rasberry? The PwC orange blast? Or perhaps the KPMG strawberry burst? Whatever it is, you’re hoggin’ it all. Don’t be selfish…share some with the rest of us.

    47. guess it’s the D&T rasberry….the barry salzberg recession edition.

    48. it seems that a disproportionate amount of minorities are in the rounds of lay offs……why has not one gone to the EEOC to complain about this?

    49. @36 – It seems @36’s response to my comments brought on a whole barrage – so here’s mine

      @36 stated:
      1.) If you’re complaining about 1%, 2% or 3% ratings – perhaps Big Four accounting isn’t for you.

      I’m not complaining – just noting, which was why I started with I wonder . . . if the partners consider . . . – if it sounded like complaining then you misread into what I stated, try going back and rereading it

      2.) It sounds like money is your sole motivator and source of pride.

      Not in the least – but I do expect to be properly compensated for the work I do and the level of productivity that I provide – I never stated that I didn’t believe that my yearly salary wasn’t justifiable compensation – see #4 below for further comments ion this one
      I think @37 summed this up quite nicely.

      3.) Perhaps you should consider a career in ibanking, hedge funds or another front office position where you can rake in the loot. Believe it or not, there are people here who enjoy client service, discussing accounting principles and audit work in general. If that’s not for you, great.

      Since I am in Shared Services, by choice, and since I have the same feelings about people who go into funds, etc as I do to politicians your suggested career direction wouldn’t suit me. But, being in SS I am sort of an anomaly because I do enjoy discussing client service, accounting principles and audit work in general .

      4.) The longer you stay in a job you don’t enjoy – the more of life you waste. I work for Deloitte and enjoy it. Even if I got a 1% raise.

      As for this and statement #2 above, I’ve been @Deloitte now 10 years. I actually do enjoy it. I take pride in the fact that I do work @Deloitte, in fact, part of why I post here is because of that pride (you obviously haven’t read some of my posts in the other threads on this site).

      [This next part is for everyone reading this post] I’m a real kool aid drinker (although, like the old Grateful Dead era big “acid trip” bash days, I chose how much to drink and how often, in my own sort of self medication prescription formula). And, lastly, I’ve received the % style raises I mentioned here @Deloitte and went home knowing that I had received an increase, though not justifiable compensation, and that I still had a job based on the fact that I was producing and willing to continue to produce that the level that I had regardless of the level of compensation I was given. What you should have been savvy enough to read – between the lines of the second and third paragraphs of my post – is that I (unlike my colleague in the first paragraph) continued to be just as, if not more, productive regardless of my manager’s capabilities and actions, and that, the partnership’s understanding of justifiable compensation, plus my own choices is what I was commenting on.

      Maybe @36 should go back and read @37.

    50. FM @ 42 – is it me or do you always seem to so quickly call for a lawsuit?

      Is the amount of first years cut antidotal or is there some hard facts that they are a group that is disproportionately targeted?

      I recognize that @34 Ex-DT states “ . . . met 1st years who I would have chosen over a 2nd or 3rd year in many cases . . . “, but the majority of first years that I’ve met had inflated ideas of their worth and value making statements like how Deloitte needs to get them in front of the client’s CEO instead of wasting their time pumping out decks. I’ve commented on this in another thread here on your site. The first years seem to have this inflated understanding of their value based on the fact that they were given this contracted offer while still at school, often a year before their scheduled graduation. They believe that school time lesson learning is the equivalent of hands-on experience. After too many years in school getting their MBA, or whatever degree, they are not interested in any sort of apprenticing. Some of them have attitudes that clearly show this. I’ve seen this in interns as well. I am also not alone in having witnessed this sort of behavior and attitude.

      Why couldn’t the reality be that a larger group of first years just don’t live up to the expectation?

    51. @36
      Your job is to discuss Accounting principles with clients as an auditor????

    52. @51 Lee

      Nice catch. I have a blog post coming up about that exact subject.

    53. @Deloitte @ 50 —

      The reality is that the 1st years are not receiving a rating based on their performance. See posts 29, 33 & 34 in this thread. As to the propriety of lawsuits, see my post # 31.

      — Tenacious T.

    54. Here’s something I just heard:

      Staff are being downgraded to 3s even though they were high performers and producers because D will stop approving initiative $s for anyone who is not 1/2 rated. The example used in the conversation where I just heard this was “tuition reimbursement”. So, if you don’t make 2 you’ll find it impossible to get tuition approved. It also puts a lot of people in positions where the firm can let them go if they want which might be harder to accomplish if they were 2s.

      In the same conversation it was mentioned that the bottom was dropped on compensation so that most staff are now closer to the top of their bracket and as such no longer in a position where constant yearly increases are allowable. Basically maxing out salaries. I was told that if you look at your comp letter (out the 3rd – today’s the 1st) you’ll find that your percentage is higher than last year even though the $ figure is considerably lower.

    55. An early promote to senior manager took place…very odd in these economic times. upset a ton of people. morale is extremely low with no communication from p/p/d. looks like they are trying to reduce headcount by having people leave on their own accord. it is working.

    56. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adam Cohen, Francine McKenna. Francine McKenna said: I forgot how great this comments thread is. Reprint of "…Forced Ranking In The Big 4" http://bit.ly/d7UEvj […]

    57. Why, thank you Francine!

    58. “A professional is a member of a vocation founded upon specialised educational training”

      Just a quick throw-back to the semantics argument: one thing that is overlooked that the staff are essentially professionals-in-training. Apprentices, if you will.

      This explanation makes sense, as it reflects reality. People are being trained to become professionals, which entails enduring the “educational training”/”hell years” regimen.

      I continue to celebrate my old profs who taught us the phrase “hell years” and warned us about it. I somehow managed to dodge the worst of it and still get my CA and a pretty decent grounding in this profession as well. A rare case? Yes. But an answer to my astounded ex-colleague who I saw in the food court and gasped “WHY????” when I told her I’m still with the same firm that fired her three years ago…

    59. Cheers to you Krupo. Even though I left, I still resepct the profession and am constatnly amazed at the arrogance of many staff (That’s u big 4 5th yr with a whopping 4 yrs of work experience out of college @45). Just posted to the Do What You Do thread similar topic. I’m confident a lot of the Big 4 cuts were necessary, get rid of the dead weight, jr’s not worth their pay. I understand there’s a resurgence of ex Big 4s being recruited back. Some Old School??? Could drive some normalcy to the practice. Not a bad strategy: Toss some seasoned practioners with credible experience back in the tank with the guppies, see who gets eaten, who sleeps with their eyes open and who steps up to the profession.

    60. revenues are down and the big four don’t need as many people as before. the business is not a charity. good people have to be terminated, and there are different ways to do that. relative ratings is the usual method, but also the needed skill. with financial institution consolidation, there is less of a need. i can’t see how any of the big four behavior is illogical or surprising.

    61. @60- libertarianism is applied autism. Noone really questions your basic points (who said the Big Four was a charity?). The illogic comes from the cold rationalizations of emotionally stunted leaders who choose to ignore long-term impacts on human capital (a concept they understand where your namesake taught). It’s just that you greatly oversimplify and excuse a lot of dull behavior.

    62. The manipulation of the ratings has become obvious even to the administration staff at pwc (EA/TA’s). After receiving the ratings many felt betrayed, shocked and confused. Questions such as “my partner thinks I’m great, I get excellent feedback, go above and beyond, work late, work through lunch, take on more partners, more responsibilities, etc, etc, but my rating is a 3 “meet expectations” which resulted in 2-2.5% salary increase. Why? Answer – even those most of you are 1’s, you can’t get a 1 rating, pwc has a certain % of employees that will be rated 1’s and that’s it. It’s a # game. Morale took a deep dive after ARC and I expected a small exodus of EA’s/TA’s to resign but they did not. As other posters have mentioned, PwC brainwashes it’s employees into thinking pwc is the best and they have it made in heaven and should be on their knees every night thanking their higher power that they have been given the privilege to be employed with such a wonderful, 1 in a million company. Sadly, the EA’s/TA’s who have been with pwc for many years buy into this mindset and no matter what will not leave even for more money, less stress, etc. They simply complain. I am concerned that Tax will soon adopt the “Business Support Team” model that Advisory created about a year ago. The admin managers speak very highly of the model and how well it’s working, I guess they have not REALLY looked at their staff or received feedback from them. EA’s are overworked with 4-5 inconsiderate partners that don’t take into consideration that there are others besides them, heavy workload due to growth of the advisory practice. TAs who were at one time EA’s are now placed in a pool where assignments are assigned by the TA coordinator and the asks are becoming increasingly more tedious and moronic. The original idea behind the creation of the BST was to have TA’s support managers and directors. Request for a assistance would be placed in a database by the manager or director and assigned to a TA. TAs are now used as floaters when EA’s or other TAs are absent (from other LOS), assigned ridiculous, tedious, data entry work and the most tedious of all – must log into a newly created database every task that is assigned and completed daily. It’s unprofessional!