About the Anonymous Accountant

A budding accountant at a Big 4 office in Canada discusses what it’s like to work at one of the world’s largest professional service firms and his long slog through the arduous road to the Chartered Accountant designation.


46 Responses to About the Anonymous Accountant

  1. Anon says:

    This is amazing.

  2. himal says:

    This is really a supurb job.


  3. Josh says:

    Good Job anonymous accountant!
    I like all the information and opinions in your articles
    Keep it up and I’ll be back

  4. Pingback: AccMan / Ernst & Young gets recruitment religion

  5. You bring back memories that give me the “Heebeejeebees!

    I’m going to link to you, if you could reciprocate, I’d appreciate it!

    Don’t worry – Just when you think it can’t get any worse…. it does!

    Seriously, if you really want to become a CA, go for it. I had to pay some dues, but did it at smaller, mostly mid-small CPA firms. I”m glad I did it that way, I pretty much did have a life, and got to enjoy my 20s.

    Take Care:
    Blog Name: CPA Blog | Marketing for Accountants – http://www.cpamarketingcenter.com/blog

  6. Sarah says:

    Hey! Hmm i really want to know more about the accounting arena as i am stilla student and i’m in quite a dilema on what i should choose to study. Could you shed some light?

    My email is balletstarzz@yahoo.com.sg

  7. fm says:

    You may like my blog, Re: The Auditors.

  8. Tigger says:

    Hello Anonymous! Really like your blog, I am currently studying to become an accountant (of sorts) and so found many of your comments useful. I found another website written by Canadians but with a focus on finance and banking, and very much favourable to accounting designations. The site is written in French but has sections in English when it describes the usual questions one can expect in banking for LBO roles or junior accountant roles in audit or taxation. Sweet, you say? Yeah, I thought so. Here’s the link, it might interest you readers : http://www.survivrelondres.com


  9. H says:

    Hey is that your last post…??

    Interesting indeed, I guess this profession is the same everywhere you go… tax accounting & audit are not really glamorous at all when you see the amount of marketing effort they put to entice us to become their ‘slaves…’

    Cheers from Australia

  10. Anonymous accountant,
    where are your new posts? Have you quit?
    For those looking for new posts,
    check out my blog at http://lifeofanauditor.blogspot.com

  11. Y Man says:

    Hi People

    Thank you for an interesting blog & I had fun reading a lot of comments here.

    Just a question to you all.
    Is anyone here doing Investment Research, more specifically “Equity Research” after doing their CPA ?
    If so, would be great if you could post of any merits, de-merits, perks, your pay, etc etc.

    I have been personally investing in stocks for a few years with a moderate success, and am considering a career change that would get me involved in value investment ( equities or commodities ) as one option. However, my experience is just a million miles away from Investment world, and I am considering spending a year or so to educate myself some finance skills.
    Do you think it will increase the chances of entering investment research if I do get a CPA and it’d actually help ?
    I’m actually offered a position in Operations / I bank now, has anyone moved from Operations to this kind of Eqty Research role ?

    My strengths right now are strong global project facilitation / communications skills (Japa/English), marketing skills, etc.

    Would be great if anyone can reply!

    Thanks !

  12. Frustauditor says:

    I am an auditor with a big four in the caribbean and I absolutely hate it right now. I hate deadlines and rolling off of one job to another knowing I still have work to finish. I hate clients who cannot give you a simple schedule that actually ties, I hate cash flow statements. the stress is unbelievable. It’s funny that the expats tell us that this is a welcome break from what they are used to, but I do not care. I am just trying to make it to Senior in June, coast during summer months and leave in December. I cannot take it anymore.

  13. K Kadridze says:

    I have a question one of you might be able to answer.
    It concerns one of the big 4’s overseas subsidiaries.
    It recently came to my attention that a partner firm may had not acted with due diligence but the international HQ has no responsibility because, of course, the subsidiary is subject to
    local laws not to the laws of the country the headquarter’s resides
    in. The HQ can therefore claim no liability for any losses suffered by clients who have invested abroad (i.e. the investors live in the country where the HQ is based but have invested, via an escrow account, through a partner firm abroad.)
    It appears that only 75% of the escrow monies were secured not 100%.
    Is it ethical that a HQ has absolutely no powers to investigate an overseas partner or indeed that a HQ can duck responsibility by claiming that they are separate overseas firms which individually provide audit tax and advisory services,that the international HQ does not provide client services and does not exercise control over it’s mmber firms?
    In this particular case we are talking about potential client (investor) losses possibly exceeding £50m or $94m U.S.

    The General Counsel at the HQ of this big 4 company has already said it (the HQ) is not liable for any losses for the reasons stated above, the costs of litigation by investors against the partner abroad will be considerable.
    The question I am asking is it ethical to a HQ to wash it’s hands of all resonsibility on the basis that it’s partner firm is subject to ‘local’ laws and as it (HQ) is based in another jurisdiction and it’s Rules prohibit it from exercising any control?

    Please email me if you have any further thoughts


  14. Yan says:

    I am anxious and curious to read what you’re up to. Please write more.

  15. Michael Tim says:

    I love your site! 🙂

    Experiencing a slow PC recently? Fix it now!

  16. Kane says:

    hi I would like to get in contact with you. Please send me a line below

  17. chris says:

    I wondered if you have an opinion on the Discrimination against someone who for whatever reason chose not to work for the “Big 4”.

    It is extremely annoying that an Employer advertises that they will only accept applicants from a Big 4 background when in fact this does not guarantee the best candidates. In itself this is discrimination albeit it doesn’t fall under the normal accepted types, i.e. Age, Race, Sex, Religion and Sexual Orientation.

    Do you or fellow readers have any thoughts on this?

    • AuditoroftheNM says:

      So true! I have already heard of their inhumane culture bfore i even graduated, “so why the heck do i need to subject myself to such deplorable environment? There sure is another way of becoming a great auditor! Thats what i thought 9 years ago. I took a few great certifications and rose from the ranks of a local company. Things were fine until i decided to get out and look for greener pasteurs, as they say.

      BOY! I was utterly pissed when all the ads seem to share something in common: ‘MUST BE FROM BIG 4, BIG 4 PREFERRED, yada yada yada! You’ve gotta be kidding me! I cant even expressed how angry i am up unil this point. This is so f***ed up.

  18. LTCM says:


    Since all big4 firms are partner networks, the local big4 isnt a subsidiary but a legal entity in its own right and all claims should be against that entity, not the hq which is basically just a communication hub and brandholder. In short, they are different entities with different owners.

    How can you even compare discrimination against age/race/sex/religion/etc with employers looking for a specific background. That is just dumb.

  19. KPMG Staff Accountant says:

    IN reply to Post 19 and 20:

    As a KPMG Staff Accountant posting anonymously on the internet, I have a few things to say.

    Although Big Four and mid-sized firms claim to be equal opportunity employers, they truly are not. Take my word for it!!!

    Our Human Resource Staff and Recruiters place MUCH emphasis on traits such as Age, Race, and Religion on their hiring processes. When we refuse to hire someone because of one of the above, we simply say that they are not a good “Fit” with our firm.

    – Age
    When we hire articling students or Junior Staff Accountants, we would generally hire students in their 2nd or 3rd Year University Education. This is because students in their 19 and 20’s have proven to be more physically fit than students in their mid twenty’s. Due to the intense work enviornment junior staff accountants are subject to, we would usually hire younger employees who can physically withstand the harsh working hours. If we are hiring experienced or intermediate staff, we prefer people in their 24’s. Someone who has recently graduated University and has a year or two of junior auditor experience under their belt. For someone in their late twenty’s, who are just entering the industry as a junior auditor, we would most likely this person on the basis that he is not a good “FIT” with our firm. The last thing we want is to have our junior auditors older than some of our managers. Most of our audit managers are in their late twenty’s.

    – Race
    This is an embarassing thing to say, but yes, all the Big 4’s in Canada and in the Western countries place a lot of emphasis on race. Most of our international clients are english-speaking companies. Our clients are usually the elites in the corporate world. And I am being 100% honest here. The last thing the Big 4 firms want is their clients being greeted by turban-wearing Indians or a Chinese that speak with a heavy accent. We may hire sharp and good looking staff of other ethnicities, but they must speak perfect english without even the slightest of accent. In local offices, obviously our firms would hire staff that are local. But in Canada or in the United States, we shortlist people based on their last names.

    – Religion
    The recruiters generally don’t have a problem with certain religious beliefs. However, there are some things we look into when considering people with religious views. First of all, a candidate’s religious belief should not interfere with his or her work. If your religion requires that you stay at home on a Friday or Saturday afternoon ocassionally, then you will most likely not get hired. Our jobs require our emplyoees to work on weekends up to 20 hours a day. Also if your religion forbids you to drink, your will likely not get hired as well, because we drink alcohol when we social with our clients. Finally, this is one that you will probably never hear from anyone in the industry. If your religion preaches complete honesty, the firms may disqualify you for that. Remember, as accountants working in an extremely competitive industry, we always have to turn a blind eye on certain ethical issues. For instance, if we know that our clients decide that it is not willing to, or is unable to, comply with certain accounting regulations, we are probably going to have pretend that we didn’t know about it. Most of the time, what we do isn’t exactly “ethical”. Everybody in the industry knows this, but we really don’t have a choice. Sometimes we either completely lose our clients or we let them slide on certain things. If your religion completely is extremely strict on righteousness, then we know that you will not cooperate with our grey area policies. We wouldn’t want staff like that, nor do we want our staff feel guilty. Therefore, candidates’ whose religious beliefs is built upon complete honesty would likely not qualify our requirements as Staff Accountant.

  20. a says:

    Wow informative post, KPMG Staff Accountant. Thanks. If what you say is true, then KPMG and any big 4 firms with similar policy is an as*holes. There may be people who want to kiss as* to succeed, but I wouldn’t subject myself into that kind of unfair process, and if those are the policy, it’s not a great company to work for. Joining big 4 isn’t the only way to succeed in career and life, I believe.

    • KPMG Staff Accountant says:

      Dear User a of post 22:

      Well, yes in order to be successful in anything these days, you have to kiss some butts. This is a fact of life. Even successful partners of major CA firms have to kiss the butts of its major shareholders and clients. That’s the reality of the corporate world.

      To some people, selling our beliefs and integrity for a Chartered Accountant Articling Job may be worth it. Obviously, I’ve sold my soul to KPMG. Most of the clients I have personally audited do not comply with accounting regulations, certain industry ethics, or even laws. Yet as a Junior Staff Accountant, do you think I have the right to point these out? If I mention one of my clients’ unethical practices to them or to my mangers, I could lose my job immediately. We learn a lot of about ethics in our Businesses and Accounting courses. In reality, none of those ethics applies in real life, especially to the Big 4 Firms. Audit Failure in academic essentially means an auditor’s failure to comply with auditing procedures. However, in real life, an Audit Failure simply means you are not do as you are told by your supervisor or managers.

      Do not let the glamorous marketing of the CA programs brainwash you. The CA occupation is completely rotten on the inside. The large CA firms are not interested in serving the shareholders or public, the partners only want to serve themselves. It is only a matter of time that another large scandal takes place. The ethic problems in the CA industry is completely shocking. Nobody working in the accounting industry would say that. They are in the industry, and mentioning this could affect their jobs.

      Because I am so fed up with the bullshit firms do, I feel guilty for not sharing it with everybody. Truthfully, sometimes I wake up at night and ask myself what on earth I am doing. I pray to god everyday that my action as a powerless Junior Auditor would not create misery for the innocent shareholders. That’s how bad the industry is.

      All of this starts with a corrupted hiring process, and the vicious cycle continues.

      • AuditoroftheNM says:

        Wonderful post. Utterly honest and sincere. Im commending you just by doing this and though i dont know you can say that ur far better than any of them “up” there in your firm. Im sure you’ll end up somewhere truly deserving of your character.

  21. SF says:

    I just left the legal industry to return to the accounting industry (I have accounting and law degrees). Have I jumped out of the frying pan into the fire?! 😦

  22. Cascadie* says:

    I’m a college junior. When making my decision about where to go for my summer internship, I read your blog and several others. In the end, I decided to go with a “Big 5” just-below-the-big-four firm. I got a really good feeling about their culture and online data confirms that while they do demand hours, it’s definitely less than the Big 4. Thanks for helping me in my career prep.

  23. Nick D. says:

    Very intriguing blog! keep it up!

  24. Anonymous says:

    It seems to me that KPMG Staff Accountant is disenchanted with the job and is having a tough time coping with the demands of being in a big 4 firm.

    Just put your best foot forward and be confident and you will get a job and likely enjoy it. Of course, you have to have those extracurriculars down and be able to present yourself well. That has nothing to do with how you look and what your race is and what your age is.

    Also, if you really want a career in accounting and audit, go for it and don’t let people on these forums make you change your mind. Remember, the people who love the job are not going to waste time ranting on a website because they are actually happy and have better things to do. The people who are bitching about how bad working at a big 4 is are likely unable to handle the stress that comes with being a hard worker, responsible and being a high achiever. If you think you can do it, go for it and it will make you very happy when you do accomplish all the things the firms say they can help you accomplish (because they can).

  25. barbara says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I don’t know if I can post this here. If it’s inappropriate, just let me know. I don’t want to step on any toes. I’ve noticed a few postings/comments on this website from what appears to be unhappy accountants.

    I’m not a head hunter or a recruiter. I work in a medium sized software company. We’re looking for a bright young CA/CGA who wants a slight career change. The position is one where you would get to influence future accounting/auditing software.

    if you’re tech savvy and love software, please send me a message.

    angelicwishes@yahoo.com (sorry, I don’t feel comfortable posting my work email address).

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  27. Aaron Marks says:

    Hey guys,

    I saw your website online while searching on google – I noticed that while your website looks hot, your online rankings were not as strong as they could be. Potential clients can’t find you because you are not ranked high enough on google.

    Our company located in Israel will help you get to the first page of google guaranteed.

    That’s it for now – I look forward to your call or email.

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  28. MisterMister says:

    First – check this awesome bestselling Big 4 satire on Amazon. Written by a Big 4 survivor. It’s HIL. LAR. E. OUS, peeps. So hilarious that you can’t utter the word without pausing between syllables. Check the link and click “look inside” for 4-page Big 4 plot setup. http://www.amazon.com/Ex-Why-Bob-Sinnott/dp/146360677X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317058117&sr=1-2

  29. bellaashley says:

    Hey There,

    Do you work still for one of the Big Four?
    Have you found any satisfaction in being an auditor?
    Were your feelings of malcontent just temporary?

    Currently I am a university student in Toronto at York.
    I am seriously considering becoming a CFP.

    Do you have any suggestions in regards to obtaining an internship,
    I am in my 2nd year and I just do not know where to start.

    I would really appreciate any suggestions you have.


  30. Alex says:

    I wondered if you had heard about this company Accountants for Social Good and what you thought about them? Do you know anything about them?

  31. Great job anonymous accountant such a funny and entertaining read.

  32. sakila says:

    Great news.Thanks for sharing.

  33. This is really sound pretty interesting and i seen there is a lot of interested,in Finland there is a lot of accounting firm which will surely be interested to see it too.

  34. It really sound interesting and good write…

  35. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I in finding It really helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to give one thing again and help others like you aided me.

  36. You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the web.
    I’m going to recommend this site!

  37. Hi,This is quite interesting .I would definitely like to know more on accounting topic from you in future.

  38. AccountingSuxSchlong says:

    I worked in public accounting for 3 years. It was by far the worst experience of my life and I would rather be a garbage collector making $15 an hour instead. Those looking to join the industry, turn around while you still have time. Otherwise, prepare to lose your soul and have others convince you to stay by telling you the pay is just too good to let go. Meanwhile, you are so fucking busy you can’t even spend a dime on anything other than the alcohol required to keep you sane enough to go to work another weekend in a row.

  39. I go to see daily a few web pages and blogs to read posts, however this webpage gives feature
    based writing.

  40. Orbit Institutes leader among educational institutions in the field of accounting and finance by building on its traditions of innovation. We build your career courses after graduation as a Certified Public Acountants, Training for CMA, CFA, CPA Cource.

  41. Do you have any recommendation where to find the best bookkeeping services in Edmonton? Because I know someone like you know the bst accountant in Canada. Thanks for this post!

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