April 12, 2019 at 8:44 am #2324421
Here's a little backstory to my career thus far… Small firm in the Chicago suburbs (7 full time).. I am the only one under the age of 45 and the only one that isn't partner/manager status. I started at $52k and while I've gotten a $3k bonus each year there have been no raises thus far due to buying out 2 retiring partners (that's what they tell me at least). I got my CPA in December and still haven't gotten a raise which I totally understand. We had our individual tax manager leave with no notice right at the start of January so we've been playing catch-up all season with the owner picking up most of that work.
I know the raise is coming but I'm trying to figure out what is reasonable/fair.. my thought has been maybe $5/h raise so $10,400 in total? I do everything here. Bookkeeping, payroll/corp/indiv/sales tax, some audit/review, and anything else that falls down from everyone else (not to mention most tech related things). I think at this point I'm pretty valuable to the company and handle a few of our more profitable clients basically independently.
Does anyone have any thoughts? It's been disappointing to not get a raise 2 years in a row but the benefits are insane so I deal with it (no health ins payment and 13% 401k match).April 12, 2019 at 9:34 am #2324538
How long have you been there?
Bonus with no raise is just them taking advantage of you. Not getting a raise because they have to buy out a retiring partner is again them taking advantage of you.
No raise simply means you are actually making less as time goes on due to inflation. Take it from me, I stayed at the same salary for 10 years fresh out of college because I was not aggressive in seeking raises.
They don't have the money because they are paying off the equity, of which you get 0 equity, and they reap all the benefit.
I was incredibly underpaid and managed to hardball a $25k raise after I was licensed. The only thing that changed for me was leverage, and the equity that I thought I had accumulated by working here the last 17 years has still not materialized. Don't let them take you for a ride. Be prepared to walk for a better opportunity.
Start working up the numbers. What is your billable rate, how much do you produce, what's the firms cost to keep you including 401k, health and employer portion of payroll taxes, what's your percentage of overhead. The difference between your realized billings, and your total cost and overhead is how much money they are making off of you. If you have only been there 2 years and are still “costing” them money to keep you on, then you need to realize your earning potential is in being more productive, producing more money. Bookkeeping, payroll and sales tax are all sort of loss leaders at most firms, deriving a lower hourly rate than say tax preparation or tax planning. Do the math, work the numbers, get other offers from outside firms. Do your homework and meet with them prepared with hard numbers. If you've done all your research you will be in a strong position to either negotiate up, or leave for more money, or you find out you are being paid market value and you need to adjust your earnings.
Good luck!!April 12, 2019 at 10:29 am #2324631
Thanks Recked, I always appreciate your advice! You are correct in that I've only been here for 2 years. I'll have to figure out how to determine all of what you're saying to do.. we don't bill an hourly rate though we keep track of it and use it to adjust our billings but we try to price upfront. I know I have my hand in a giant portion of what the firm does on the corporate side and help with individual stuff during tax season on top of that. Like you said I'll have to do the math.. What advice would you have about the fact that I like the firm so I don't feel very legitimate in pursuing other offers. I get tons of emails and messages from recruiters. Do you think it's worthwhile talking to them about the job opportunities they're inquiring about to try and gauge what I could get elsewhere without having much intention of taking it?April 12, 2019 at 10:52 am #2324685
It never hurts to have a conversation, a recruiter would not hesitate you waste your time while talking to multiple candidates trying to fill a job.
You like your current job because you are comfortable there.
Your next job might be better, or it might be worse. You won't know until you get there. And if it sucks, you just start looking for new opportunities sooner.
I can only compare your situation to my own, where the owner can't afford to pay me more because…. list your reasons. But in the end those reasons only benefit the owner.
My boss can't afford to pay me more, but he can afford going away for 6 weeks a year, 4 of which are right before tax season and include international travel. He can't afford to pay me what I'm worth but can afford 2 BMW leases sitting in front of his giant house.
You are expected to continue making the sacrifice, so they can reap the benefit.
It's just the way this world works. You can either build your dream life, or someone else will pay you to build theirs.
I am a bit jaded as we are in the final 4 days of tax season. My tune might be slightly different next week, but always remember to look out for yourself.
Don't get 10 years down the road and then hear, you're not worth any more because this is my firm and these are my clients.April 12, 2019 at 11:08 am #2324778
Thanks for the perspective. I'll speak with some recruiters and try to gauge a salary range I could reasonably get.April 12, 2019 at 11:55 am #2324943
Thanks for the wisdom, @Recked!
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