Kristin Lofgren, the insightful mind behind @Lets_Get_Fiscal, delves into one of the most frequently asked questions from her Instagram followers: when is the right time to transition from public accounting to industry accounting? In this chapter of "The Life of an Accountant Series," we'll explore the nuanced considerations and advice for those contemplating this pivotal career move.
Understanding the Landscape: Public Accounting vs. Industry
To embark on this journey, it's crucial to distinguish between public accounting and industry accounting. Public accounting involves working for a firm providing services to clients, which could include audit, tax, or advisory services. Conversely, industry accounting entails working within the accounting department of a specific company. The decision to transition hinges on various factors, and understanding the distinctions between these realms is the first step.
In general, industry is perceived as a lower-stress environment with greater flexibility compared to the potentially stressful and deadline-driven nature of public accounting. Industry roles often offer a better work-life balance and reduced travel requirements.
Deciphering the Right Time to Leave Public Accounting
The decision to transition from public accounting to industry is highly individual and depends on factors such as career goals, life priorities, and personal preferences. Kristin provides insightful advice for those contemplating this shift:
1. Reflect on Long-Term Goals:
- Consider your long-term career and life goals.
- Evaluate whether partnership aligns with your aspirations.
- Gauge the importance of work-life balance, flexibility, and travel in your career journey.
- Reflect on whether the partner lifestyle at your firm aligns with your vision for the future.
2. Assess Your Happiness:
- If you find yourself unhappy, experiencing burnout, lacking motivation, or feeling stagnant, it might be time to start job hunting.
- Life is too short to persist in a job that brings misery.
3. Leave as a Senior or Manager:
- If you are content with your job but don't envision the partner route, consider leaving as either a senior or a manager.
- Leaving before becoming a senior means missing out on valuable leadership experience.
- Gaining experience as a senior or manager equips you with essential skills in time management, leadership, and project management.
4. Value of Industry Experience in Managerial Positions:
- Industry experience in managerial positions holds significant value.
- Controller or CFO positions often seek candidates with a blend of public and private experience.
- Leaving as a senior or manager positions you favorably for such roles.
5. Be Open to Opportunities:
- While having a planned exit timeline is beneficial, be open to unexpected opportunities.
- Evaluate job offers and consider making the move if the right opportunity arises, even if it deviates from your initial plan.
6. Passive Job Hunting:
- Actively engaging in passive job hunting while in public accounting provides insights into industry positions.
- Learning about available positions helps shape your preferences for the post-transition phase.
- Regular practice of interviewing enhances your skills and comfort level.
Kristin's Personal Journey
Kristin shares her personal realization that the partner lifestyle in her M&A due diligence office didn't align with her long-term goals. Observing partners working late nights, frequent travel, and constant stress led her to the decision that more flexibility, less travel, and reduced stress were essential for her career satisfaction. This introspection prompted her to consider the opportune time to transition from public accounting to industry.
Crafting Your Path
The decision to transition from public accounting to industry is a pivotal moment that requires introspection, alignment with long-term goals, and openness to opportunities. Kristin's advice serves as a guiding light for accountants navigating this decision, emphasizing the importance of happiness, timing, and skill development.
As you contemplate your own career path, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The key lies in understanding your unique aspirations, evaluating your current state of satisfaction, and being proactive in shaping your professional journey.
This chapter serves as a valuable dialogue starter, and Kristin invites fellow accountants to share their insights or pose questions on Instagram, fostering a community of shared experiences and guidance.