10 Survival Tips for People Work in Big 4

本文发表在 rolia.net 枫下论坛Some personal reflection to share from experience years ago.

Overall, you must have faith, after all the years of many challenges, you will be very proud of it when you look back.

1. Have vision in the long run, what industry you want to go into after you leave the firm and why. Each firm at each location of GTA has its distinctive mainstream clientele. Ask around about them. A good portfolio of your clients should include 1 or 2 big client in the industry you are interested in and a few medium to small clients in other industries. Stick to the top client if you get it, start as a junior, keeping going back each year including interim reviews, until you establish a very good working relationship with your client, knows best about the engagement program for consecutive years, and aim yourself at becoming the audit manager independently serving that client in 4-5 years.

2. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT take things personal! The firm can be a a very stressful environment and many young managers do not learn to control their emotions thus flip easily. At the firm, they say, "the shit pass down", from client to partner and all the way to junior staff. When things go nasty, you just have to move on and try not to take it too seriously. You will only understand why your manager/senior flip until you get into their shoes years later. Being nice is not a priority, getting the job done is.

3. Adapt to the "over-achiever" mentality, i.e. a junior is often used as a senior, a senior as a manager, a manager as a partner. It is pretty much the survival rule at the firm. It is a painful but very effective way to grow professionally in a very short period of time . Whatever task you are assigned, view it, take it and finish it as if you own it, in other words, control your task it instead of simply react to your task. This will help you understand things better, make fewer mistakes, able to show stronger support. On the other hand, learn to MANAGE/DISCIPLINE your senior/manager, creat your proper working style and routine from the very beginning. Agree at the beginning of each engagement what your tasks are and stick to the agreement. If slackers try to make you do their job or clean up their mess, use personal excuses and say no properly, but offer to help later with no sincere or concrete plans. But if your senior is not slacking and really need help, help them.

4. When you face an audit procedure, keep the audit objective in mind and think like a well-seasoned auditor. You do have the right to discuss if not question. Many seniors, due to lack of experience and an overly conservative nature, would tell you to do 10 things for one audit objectives. If you go ahead and do it without asking why, the result will be: you kill yourself, you unecessarily inflate your time budget, the manager gets pissed at thinnin profit margin due to time over-run, and eventually you are to be blamed and that gets on your performance appraisal. It is very important to communicate proactively with whoever reviews your work, not necessarily the senior.

5. Take control over building a positive relationship with your coach/mentor. They will not think in your interest, only you will. So ask around for information first then make clear and specific request. YOU do your homework and design your career path, YOU invite your coach to meet you, YOU decide the agenda of discussion, YOU tell him specifically what client you want to try and why, YOU tell him what you want to do specifically, YOU summarise and tell him what your strengths and weakness are at performance appraisal. Be ready to take "no" and be ready with suggesting alternatives if you get a "no". If you do have 2 hours to complete a task, do not submit in the first hour. Go out, get some fresh air.

6. Do not bug your senior with too many questions. Do your homework in advance, ask your senior a few good questions. Question you CAN ask should stay within the scope of client knowledge (read the prior year file!!!) , work plan, senior's ojectives. When you want to know "HOW" to do certain tasks or basic accounting knowledge, be very careful. Some senior also may not teach you the right way of doing things and coach you just to demonstrate they can coach junior. Most senior prefer independent and well experienced juniors. Be skeptical and do not let misleading senior waste your time.

7. The pecking order at firms are notoriously strict. While you should respect that order in terms of getting the job done, do not absorb that mentality outside work. Never be nervous or afraid when you talk to senior management. The more you base the converstation on equity, the more respect your will get. On the contrary, the more timidly your present yourself, the more likely your will be abused or disprected. People just peck!

8. Prepare to meet all kinds of unreasonable clients. If you appear young and inexperienced, client soon learn to take advantage. You need to act and talk as if you are the manager of this job and show certain authority at the beginning. Only in this way you may get co-operation and respect. Never let your senior coach you or treat you like a junior junior in front of your client. Be coached in advance and talk to your cleint as if you got 10 years of experience already. It makes the client feel better and your job easier. On the other hand, do not be too close with your clients. Excessive chit chat with your client is a big no no.

9. Do not be afraid of performance appraisal. Being a top performer in an extremely competitive environment comes at considerable incremental costs. A more efficient way can be to stay in the middle, gradually build your client relationship, professional network, a few good friends and colleagues. After a number of years, these are the intangible assets you can take away with you. A few thousand dollar more in salary raise, a one-time top ranking, being popular among gossipy young associates, these are just short-term glamour that do not make a difference in the long run. Accept it that you will make mistakes. One miserable comments in your appraisal is not the end of world, just improve on it and let your coach know how your improved. The new capacity and ability you crop out of mistakes do make difference in the long run.

10. Some good working habit to keep:
a. Dress appropriately. It is better to try to look a bit sharp than look dull and loose. It will make difference in the long run, esp with the big firms.
b. Keep a work diary, marking down things you have done or ponder upon. It also serves to plan your day. You will be BUSY and things will be HECTIC. Planning helps!
c. No spelling mistakes in working paper, not even ONE. This is very important. Also important to cross reference your working paper clearly. Always make a conclusion in your working paper. Do not be perfect. Speed and deadlines matter, a big deal.
d. Email can be a worst solution. Verbal discussion is always better.
e. Attend some social activities. Don't even try to know everybody, know a few managers that may like your strenghths and will speak for you.
f. Good coaching skills is a good asset to have. Even when you are a junior, start practicing your coaching skills.
g. Whatever you are assigned to do, it does not hurt to ask "What is your objective?" "What do you want to achieve here?"

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Replies, comments and Discussions:

  • 10 Survival Tips for People Work in Big 4 10 Survival Tips for People Work in Big 4
    • Mark!!
    • Wow! 昏过去了,真能掰啊!偶像偶像!!
    • Mark!
    • 收藏!要求加精上导读。
      • You can do it!
        • You're in charge here.... An addition to the list, rule#11,千万不要试图越权。
      • 对不起goingconcern同学,为了方便上导读帮你把标题改了改,希望不会介意。:)
        • 没有关系,多谢点石之辑!白天工作电脑没有中文软件,只好用英文写,回头数数,还真凑巧是十点。谨供参考。
    • Good to read! Thanks for sharing!
    • This is very good no matter where you work!
    • 跟mentor应该是怎样的关系,像朋友还是有点老师跟学生关系?
      • 个人理解两种都有,团结,紧张,严肃,活泼。而且要确保coach和自己匹配
        • 对于8觉得很难把握,有时候JUNIOR表现的过于AGGRESSIVE,客户会误以为他是FIC,让FIC很愤怒。我有这样的经历,然后FIC当着客户和那个JUNIOR的面郑重对客户说我是FIC。
          • 谁是谁不是FIC,不是assignment一开始就明确的了吗?
            • 有时候客户记不得,只是说了我自己的一个经历
      • ding
    • 谢谢分享宝贵经验!个人觉得这十条对在企业中从事非销售工作的员工都有借鉴作用。
    • 写得不错,很会总结。你是不是很擅长培训讲课啥的?我最近很郁闷的发现,自己对数字总是记不住,然后也不擅长归纳总结,我要刻苦改进。:D
      • 再生一个娃,把好记性捡回来?:)
        • 有科学根据吗?
          • [只好纯废话了]会计讲科学太多=>智商过量。// 顺祝你家宝宝健康成长。
            • xiexie
            • 哎哎,你们两位,这么优质地基的楼,别盖歪了。:-)
              • 比萨斜塔之所以有名,就是因为它歪。。。。。。。。。
                • 比萨斜塔之所以能歪着不倒,那是因为它上面没趴着一只废话连篇的匹格。// 再在这精华帖下面多说废话一句就把你关进水缸里。哼哼。
    • 说得太好了!特别体会这句:The more you base the converstation on equity, the more respect your will get. 这个其实和第一,第五,第六点是相辅相成的。期待下篇.
    • awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!! very very helpful!!!