In this third episode of the book club, the Twins discuss the last two chapters in the first section "Advice for a Successful Career in the Accounting Profession: How to Make Your Assets Greatly Exceed Your Liabilities" by Jerry Maginnis! Grab your book, sit down, and follow along with the Twins!
To CPA or NOT to CPA? Public vs Private?
What if you could run an experiment?
Take twins, with identical DNA, life experiences, education, GPAs, majors, internships, and careers as accountants. Then have twin A go private and have twin B become a CPA and go public.
Follow Becky Steiger and Norma Steiger on their separate journeys in the private and public accounting worlds! Together they will compare and contrast their experiences and goals in the accounting profession.
Becky: [00:00:03] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome back to the Accounting Twins Podcast Book Club edition. My name is Becky.
Norma: [00:00:16] And I'm Norma. And we're super excited that you're back here today. So if you've been keeping up, we are reading advice for a successful career in the accounting profession. "How to Make Your Assets Greatly Exceed your Liabilities" by Jerry Maginnis. If you're not caught up over the last two episodes, we cover chapters one through four, just basically going along random things that this book goes over. For example, we talked about how accounting majors can optimize their college experience, the different career paths that accounting offers, and a lot more. So go ahead and listen to those past few episodes if you already haven't. But this episode, we're going to talk about chapters five and six, which will be the end of the first section of the book. Woohoo! And in the future episodes, we'll be talking about what it's like as a business professional. But we're going to end up basically trying to decide whether or not you want to be an accountant and just all the information about accounting.
Becky: [00:01:12] So the first chapter we're going to talk about this episode is chapter five, "What About Work-Life Balance?" So Norman is going to really dive into busy season because that is the one thing everybody knows about an accountant, it's busy season where they're working hours and hours and hours on end.
Norma: [00:01:29] Maybe not hours and hours and hours, maybe just hours and hours. Well, who knows? I still haven't completed my first busy season. You kind of did, because you just had quarter close, right?
Becky: [00:01:40] Oh, I'm still in quarter close.
Norma: [00:01:43] Oh, boy.
Becky: [00:01:44] It's a lot. It's a lot, is all I'm going to say.
Norma: [00:01:48] So basically, there's just different types of busy seasons for, I guess, different parts of accounting, because obviously public accounting busy season is going to be from January until like the March, April-ish time, because that's when year ends are done for companies and there's 90 days to file the financial statements obviously of tax season around the same time. And Hoof. It's just insane because I always hear so many different things about how long busy season is. But basically, this book goes into the fact that during public accounting, you can be pulling anywhere from 50 to 70 hours a week to get filings or audits done, and busy seasons honestly just depend on the job that you do. But from what I've heard, I think that busy season is more just 40 to 60 hours a week now, not necessarily 50 to 70. Because I hope-.
Becky: [00:02:42] I've been pulling more than 40-hour weeks. Like 40 hours is a regular week. So some of my bosses have literally been up until midnight. They get on at 8:00 and they don't get to bed until midnight because they're working. So I'm definitely thinking it's more of the latter, like 70 to 80.
Norma: [00:02:59] This book says you can be pulling anywhere from like 50 to 70-hour work weeks during busy season just to get filings like tax filings or audits done. And busy seasons depend on what job you do and honestly, probably what company you work for. Because I believe that if you're working in like the big four, you're supposed to be working like 50, 60, 70, depending on how you are, maybe 80-hour weeks. And that just does not sound so much fun. But if you're a mid-sized firm, maybe not as much because you don't have those big corporate public entities. But either way, I am so scared for busy season because I'm the type of person who needs a day or two off if I'm in a mental fog or have a bad day or week where I'm just not performing well. And I don't know if that's feasible during busy season because I know I'm going to have those mental fog moments, but I probably can't take a day or two off to do nothing. But at least you do get free dinners.
Becky: [00:04:00] True. See, for me, I'm in busy season right now. I guess you would say busy season because it's quarter close. So I have been pulling those 50 hours, 60-hour weeks already. There was one day I worked from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m. And yes, I had like a two-hour break, and then at 7 o'clock, someone was like, "Hey, can you do something for me?" And then I worked until 10 p.m. But again, it really all depends on the company, the workload, and everything, like Norma said. Sometimes Norma and I get in these really big mental fogs and we're like, "All right, I need a mental health day. I just need a day to do nothing." You can't do that. You got to get it in.
Norma: [00:04:35] So for public accounting, the busy season is just basically January through March, April-ish, because the year ends, the majority of them for companies are in December, and you have 90 days after the balance sheet date to make those audit statements filed. But I think it's different for private accounting, correct, Becky, like one of the busy seasons?
Becky: [00:04:57] Our busy seasons are like every quarter close and then the year-end close and we have to get the SEC filings out, the 10-Q, the 10-K. So like honestly every three months, you have like three weeks where you're working a little bit more than usual. I had at least an hour of work every day over the weekend, which isn't bad at all. But like I'm still doing a little bit of work over the weekend and there's some days where I will log off at 5:00, 5:30, but then like 8:00 at night, I have to do a simple task for somebody. So it really just depends. Because my workload is a lot bigger, but I don't necessarily think that I'm working an extreme crazy amount of hours for it. It's dependent on what I'm able to get done, what knowledge I have because I'm also still learning. So every time there's a quarter close, I'm getting handed new tasks by new people. So not only is my workload getting bigger, but my knowledge is also expanding. So it's kind of hard for me to gauge right now.
Norma: [00:05:54] Okay. That's a very good statement. That's important to note, because also, like when I was speaking to a lot of the people at CBIZ that I had this summer, they were saying busy seasons, sometimes they just capped out at 50 hours a week, not because they didn't have anything to do, but that's also just because their associates, they don't have the learning yet to do anything else. So they're like, "Yeah, there are some days where I would just leave after 40 or 50 hours because I didn't know how to do anything else. I did all the rest I could do." So honestly, busy season just kind of depends on your level of expertise.
Becky: [00:06:29] Agreed.
Norma: [00:06:30] Another aspect about being an accountant that I honestly feel is kind of like glossed over a lot, and so kudos to Jerry for bringing this up, is that you have to travel to be an accountant. So specifically, like if you're a CPA, you might have to travel out to the client to go do the work there because there might be confidential information that can't be put into like the servers. Or you might have to go to an inventory account and all that stuff. But it's also important to note that because of COVID 19, people aren't traveling as much for work just in general. And CPAs have seen a decline in traveling to perform audits and such. So, I mean, that's the extent of traveling for CPAs. But I'm not sure how much Becky would be doing it in the public or private world.
Becky: [00:07:15] I don't travel for my job. I travel to the office so I can work in the office. But I have noticed I have seen days where the internal audit group is meeting with our public auditor, and the public auditor does come into the office to meet with them. I met anybody on the public audit team, but I have seen CPAs in our office working on the audit.
Norma: [00:07:38] Which is honestly kind of cool because it's like, "Oh my gosh, these are real people and I know what they're doing."
Becky: [00:07:45] Which is just kind of fun to me. Yeah, that's all we really have about like company travel, I guess you could say all to that. But one of the next things that I think is super important that we need to focus on as accountants because we do work those busy seasons is effectively taking our time off if we're going to be worked 50, 60, 70 hours a week during busy season. So we do deserve to have time off to recuperate and get out of it. So my company does a limited time off. I'm going to Flagstaff next weekend with my friends. And so just doing like a half day or leaving early, I was like, "I deserve the day off." I'm going to take the entire day off, even though I'm not going to Flagstaff until like 3:00 p.m. Why? Because I just did busy season and I've learned a lot, brain fogged, tired. I see a day off. We need to learn how to take days off and not feel bad about it because we deserve it. Yeah, we're here to work to make a living, but we got to spend that money. Somehow let's go do stuff. Let's take a day off.
Norma: [00:08:42] Something that Jerry mentioned within the book that is honestly quite interesting, he says that people take maybe 1 to 2 weeks off right before or after busy season just as a reward for knowing that they will have completed a lot of work during such a short amount of time. So I think that's also a great way that people can use their time off. Like Becky said, she's going to be going to Flagstaff. She's taking a day off right after quarter close. So it's just another way to effectively use your time off and is obviously something that needs to be considered when considering what profession you want to do.
Becky: [00:09:18] Exactly. Like my old boss, he took off like four days every six weeks or something. He goes, "I have the time off. I'm going to use it like I deserve to be able to take a step back because I am putting my heart and soul into this work. I deserve these days off." Like time off isn't there for us just to be like, "I guess I'll use it if I have something I want to do." It's like, "Heck, take it off, sit at home all day, watch TV." Use it as a day to recuperate as well. It doesn't always have to be just to travel or go do things, it could be just to take a mental break for a few days from work.
Norma: [00:09:56] So at the end of the chapter, Jerry closes off the chapter with the way that he balanced his work and his life together. So he was a baseball coach for ten years for his son. And what he did was he treated his baseball commitments as if they were work meetings, which I think is an original, unique way to approach the situation. So he was able to effectively be there for his son, but he still was incredibly successful in his career in public accounting.
Becky: [00:10:25] Exactly. I remember reading saying he would put off in his schedule, like hypothetically, 5 to 7. "I have a meeting." What's the meeting? "I the meeting with the baseball field." It's good to be able to draw those boundaries and be like, I have my work to do. I also have my family to care about. My son, his sports, this is what I'm going to do. And so I think that was a really interesting thing he put in. There was a real example of him being like, "Great work and life. We're going to make it balance."
Norma: [00:10:55] So that was chapter five. Chapter six is about the profession's diversity, equity, and inclusion journey. And before we start, we just want to mention there's a lot of DEI issues that do need to be resolved within the business world, within the accounting world. Right now, we're just talking about being women in the workforce because Rebecca and I recognize that we are white, cis-gendered females, and we do not have the background to talk about other minority groups and what is going on, because we feel as if if we misrepresent something or misstate something, we're obviously going to be doing an injustice to those other minority groups. And we just want to recognize that. Because obviously there are things with other minority groups that significantly need to be influenced and fixed within the business world in order to get them the representation that they need.
Becky: [00:11:45] So the accounting industry, as we all know, hasn't been very well known for providing the quality and the same amount of representation to women as they do men. So it's uplifting to see that Norma and I have worked with women who have powerful and important stances within the company and in the accounting department.
Norma: [00:12:05] For example, when we both had an internship at BDO two summers ago together, it was great to see that one of the partners, actually two of the partners there were women. Specifically, we loved one of them named Stella, who was such an amazing, empowering partner and was really all about women and equality. And there they had such an amazing, inclusive DEI presentations that they did every week. We had weekly meetings as an audit team and they had two DEI presentations, which I honestly thought was great because it shows how they were moving forward, trying to be more inclusive. And then at my internship with CBIZ this past summer, there was an amazing manager named Olivia, who was an absolute badass at what she did. And I strive to be her whenever I become a manager or a partner.
Becky: [00:12:54] Me as well. I have been working under two women named Kelly and Krupa, and these women are so intelligent. And they are so smart. And they are not afraid to be like, "This is wrong. No, this is right." They are so powerful. There was one time that I went to a happy hour with some of the girls in the Finance Leadership Development program, and we could not stop talking about them because they are just like powerful badass girl-boss women in the accounting profession, and we need to see more of that. And I aspire to be like them. And I want to be able to hold my ground and want to be as powerful as they are.
Norma: [00:13:36] Yeah. And I think it's important just to touch on how women are treated differently in the business world, whether it's intentional or not.
Becky: [00:13:46] Women are subconsciously treated different than men, and that's just how it is because women have not always been seen as equal. For example, if I were to ask somebody a question, it's because I didn't listen, it's because I don't know what's going on. But if a man asks a question, it's because he just wants to make sure he's right type of thing. Like, have you ever seen those things going around Twitter? It's like when a woman raises her voice, she's being a bitch and she's PMS ing. But if a man does it, he's strong and he's holding his ground.
Norma: [00:14:15] Yeah. I think it's just important to realize the unconscious bias that people might have towards minority groups and or women versus men. So I think it's just important going forward to, I guess, somewhat realize your thoughts when people are talking and how things are going about. And what's so great about this book is that Jerry mentioned tips for success for those of minority groups on perhaps how to be influential and make do with the workforce. So, for example, he says, "find a sponsor," which I didn't really know about until he mentioned it in the book. But basically, someone who you identify with, who's been so successful, and ask them kind of just to be a mentor for you and how to navigate working in the workforce.
Becky: [00:15:04] Another tip for success is to find and identify your role models. Norma and I talked about Stella and Olivia and Krupa and Kelly. Those are our role models. We want to be like them. Find a role model that fits your identity, your dreams, your passions, and use them as like a reference point. Be like, "They are my role model. I want to be just like them." And identify steps that you can do to be similar to them. Maybe even meet up with that person and be like, "What makes you so successful? Because I want to be like you." And really learn what they do to make themselves such a good person and such a good mentor or role model.
Norma: [00:15:47] Yeah. So that's basically the end of chapter six. It was somewhat of a shorter chapter. But overall just as an entirety, section one, like we said, is just about kind of like the background information of what an encounter is, all the different careers that you can do being as an accountant. So going forward, the next few episodes, section two is going to be talking about like beginning your life as a business professional. So I know Becky's going to have a lot to say on that. And then section three is talking about how to further your career once you've already started, which will provide great insight even just to us to how to become better business professionals.
Becky: [00:16:24] Exactly. So we really wanted to thank you guys for listening to this episode. Norma and I have had a great time being able to read this book and understand it, and I felt very passionate about this episode when it became busy season and taking time off, as well as female empowerment and being able to have companies be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. So we want to thank you guys for following along and supporting us throughout this.
Norma: [00:16:49] Yes. We hope you can continue along with our book club as you read the rest of this book. And we look forward to seeing and hearing from you soon. Thank you so much.