Hours are long in public accounting, but when do you call it a day?

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Whatdidyou 6 years, 3 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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  • #174520

    mike_terror
    Member

    Please keep in mind that I have no professional experience in a public accounting environment and is asking this question which may sound stupid out of curiosity and for my own references.

    From reading all the post on A71 and other sources online, it's expected to work long hours in public accounting doing 50-60 hours a week, 12 hour days, etc etc. However, what is the protocol in public accounting for calling it a day and deciding when to go home? From what I understand, there is no set hour of 8-5 or 9-6 where you can run for the door once it reaches a certain time correct?

    Is it based on your own decision when you feel that you have completed all your assigned task for the day? or when the senior or manager gives you the okay? I believe that it would be frowned upon if you left the office while the more senior associates and managers are still working. What is the proper norm for this so you don't end up pissing someone off or making yourself look bad?

    #380689

    In my office, if you are caught up on work, it is up to you.

    There isn't really a specific time, just deadlines to meet.

    #380690

    Anonymous

    Are you sure its only 50-60 hours a week? I don't want you to have a nasty shock when you realize more is expected.

    #380691

    My last firm I did 70-80 hour weeks. And not just busy season. It was a “known” thing I was supposed to whatever I had to do to get the projects done. Close to deadline, we had to check in before leaving…

    Current firm is more relaxed. Like Hustlin said, get your work done then leave. My boss does require half day on weekends, but does not stipulate which day or what time to come in. And I havent worked over 50 hrs in a single week so far, even during busy season. As with everything it will vary firm to firm. You should try and find out from them what they expect, without sounding over eager or lazy. Just to be clear. I know it's a fine line. My first busy season I asked my boss if I should be working more hours.

    #380692

    rmm91909
    Participant

    I also agree with Hustlin. My firm is 40 hours non-busy season but it can be more if you need to get something done. As a partner once told me, we are professionals and 40 hours doesn't always exist. Sometimes you have to put in the extra time to meet a deadline and just have to suck it up. Otherwise busy season is usually a minimum of 60 hours a week until the 4/15 deadline. I think it varies by firm and luck of the draw on the types of clients you are put on.

    #380693

    Mayo
    Participant

    I'll echo the same thing other people have mentioned..

    -No set 9-5 schedule

    -Deadlines and budgets are really what matter

    Really it can vary on a myriad of factors. Whether or not there's high turnover on your client/local office/firm. There's a office in my sub area that's notorious for having long hours all year long. Why? Because it's not a popular city (despite it being a very large office) and there's always high turnover.

    Sometimes the partner gives the clients an unrealistic deadline, or maybe there's a andom ituation that cuts the budgeted hours in half.

    Personally, zi got in at 8:30 amd left around 6 today. On Fridays the unwritten rule is that we leave early (4:30). If we have work that needs to be done we work from home on what we can on the weekend.

    #380694

    Anonymous

    Be sure to ASK. Be frank and tell them you are eager to meet expectations, but you would like them to define that for you. Revisit it as you go through tax season.

    I worked 60 hours a week and thought I was doing decent for a first year. I was told at the end of tax season that I was barely meeting the minimum expectation and my boss was disappointed. 80 hours a week is what they wanted. Result: my reputation at the firm has not recovered since.

    #380695

    Anonymous

    Im on good terms with my manager. During none busy season I drop in his office (if im in the office) and say something at 5:00-5:30 like “Hey things are looking on course my status of various garbage is blah blag blah is it Ok if I head out in the next 30 minutes or so?”

    During busy season I do the same but instead at a later time.

    Other times I just wait for more senior leveled people to start leaving then I follow shortly after.

    And of course sometimes I get irritated by the days events and just leave.

    I haven't had any problems. just met every deadline.

    One thing I'm fairly certain in through my observations is that the people who take on lots of extra work because they can't seem to set boundaries just end up getting used.

    #380696

    jenuno01
    Member

    “One thing I'm fairly certain in through my observations is that the people who take on lots of extra work because they can't seem to set boundaries just end up getting used” //+1,000

    Please learn when to say “no”… something I struggeld with when I first started. I wanted to tackle every project and even though I would get everything done, I always ended up working longer hours than everyone else in the office. That's a mistake. Not saying do the bare minimum, but definitely be realistic. Quality is always preferred over quantity.

    #380697

    mike_terror
    Member

    Thank you for everyone's advice and input, this gives a better understanding of the “unwritten” rule and what the norm is in the office.

    @bluegirl – “Be sure to ASK. Be frank and tell them you are eager to meet expectations, but you would like them to define that for you. Revisit it as you go through tax season.

    I worked 60 hours a week and thought I was doing decent for a first year. I was told at the end of tax season that I was barely meeting the minimum expectation and my boss was disappointed. 80 hours a week is what they wanted. Result: my reputation at the firm has not recovered since. “

    How do they keep track of your 60 hours versus the expected 80 hours. The 60 hours that you worked in a week is not exactly 60 billable hours is it?

    #380698

    Anonymous

    @mike_terror At our firm the expectation is that you do 300 billable hours OVER the top for the whole season. Do the math on that it works out to a lot of 80 hour weeks. We log every hour we are in the office. It is virtually all billable time where I'm at with the exception of meetings, etc. So my 60 hour week was around 55 hours billable. The firm I'm at handles things a bit assbackwards. You are assigned work from each partner. Therefore, if I run out of work at 6pm and I ask if there is any more work and they say “no”, then I go home.

    I thought I was doing okay, because I asked every day for more work. Apparently, I needed to push more than I did. I needed to spell out the fact that I was not on track to meet their billable hour goals for the season. (Not my fault, because the work wasn't available.) My situation was frustrating, but maybe more typical of a small firm.

    #380699

    Mrs 300
    Participant

    One thing I have learned from working in public accounting for 8+ years is this: there is little recognition for coming in early. You are recognized for staying late. I have seen multiple people come in at 6 and earlier. If they leave at 5/5:30, people get pissy. It drove/drives me nuts. When I started, I'd come in at 7:30/8:00 and my Senior would roll in at 9:00 or 9:30. He would expect me to stay with him until 9 at night which drove me insane. I finally just started coming in later. I did what was expected and kept my mouth shut.

    We have both since then left PwC. Now we are friends and I give him shit about it. 🙂

    I learned early on that it wasn't an 8-5 job. But I made it a point to stay late when others were staying late. If no one was hanging around late, I'd go too. It's a pain in the ass. To some extent, you have to learn how to play the game. If there is a deadline, sell your soul to the devil and commit to working like a dog.

    Another thing that I will stand by: charged hours never lie. I started working from home when I had my first born (2 years in – I was a Senior). I made sure that my charge hours never lacked. So if anyone said that I left early or worked from home too much, I would tell them to look at my charge hours.

    #380700

    Anonymous

    Threads like these make me SO grateful I never worked in public….

    #380701

    jaclynnh
    Member

    I work for a Big 4 in the tax department and to drive home a couple items people have already mentioned…

    – No set hours

    – It is all about chargeable hours! Meaning your time browsing the internet and checking Facebook (or Another 71) doesn't count towards your total charge hours for the week. Also, trainings and administrative items are not counted as chargeable

    – “Checking out” is mandatory during busy season meaning we can't leave until our seniors or managers have excused us

    – 50-60 is an understatement. It's more like 70-75 hours a week which would include working Saturdays and sometimes Sundays during busy times (3/15, 9/15 are the big ones for me)

    – It's all about meeting the deadlines! I was once in the office until 4am (the day before 9/15) finishing a return

    – During slow times, it's okay to leave without asking as long as you have completed your tasks for the day

    #380702

    Whatdidyou
    Member

    “it's expected to work long hours in public accounting doing 50-60 hours a week”

    hehe. Yeah, it's much more than that during busy season, but it really depends on your client. Someone I know, worked a “light” busy season in his first year working ~74 hours and then a heavy busy season his second year working ~85 hours (but had some weeks that were much much worse). During non-busy season hours, you will float back down to 45-55, but could easily go much higher depending on your schedule/client/time of year.

    I bet that seniors/managers work even more though.

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