Do you wonder about the best way to choose the right firm to begin your career? As an upcoming graduate, you need to objectively evaluate which size of firm and work environment is best for YOU.

When determining which size of firm best suits your needs, it’s important to make a choice that best fits your personality, professional aspirations and lifestyle.

Influencing factors when determining the right work environment include hours worked per week, competition for promotion, evaluation process, variety in types of client and scope of work, growth opportunities, training, and job satisfaction.

  • In a local firm, you will have the chance to be an important part of the team, not simply one of thousands of employees.
  • With local firms, you typically have more opportunities to explore your talents and discover a niche you enjoy.
  • It can be easier to control your career at a local firm: develop a more diverse skill set by participating in new projects; earn more recognition for your successes; have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.
  • By their fourth year with a Big 4 firm, all accountants are expected to work 60 – 80 hours each week.
  • Turnover rate for large firms is typically twice that of smaller CPA firms.

Professional Opportunities

Local CPA firms offer many attractive career advantages for dedicated professionals. Given their size, it’s easier for local firms to adapt to the aspirations of individual staff members. What types of opportunities should be available to you?

Variety and Responsibility: In a local firm, you’re very likely to be involved with all aspects of a client project, gaining valuable on-the-job experience; it is common for staff members to obtain a significant overview and understanding of numerous industries and the accounting activities that affect a business.

Learning Opportunities: Like some big firms, many local firms offer additional outside learning opportunities. For example, additional educational opportunities with Hagen, Kurth, Perman & Co., P.S. (HKP) include Golden Gate University masters programs, CPAmerica conferences, and WSCPA webinars. Be sure to ask about available learning opportunities during your interviews!

Evaluations: Work evaluations and feedback are designed to help you reach your peak performance by learning and understanding the important values of the firm. At local firms, you often have more opportunities to gain valuable feedback on a regular basis.

Career Development: Accountants often get more advancement opportunities in local practices. For those interested, the pathway to Ownership is shorter at a local firm. At the same time, those individuals who don’t want to advance into management can still find interesting and challenging work.

Personal Advantages

A career in accounting makes it possible for you to have a fulfilling professional and personal life. When you are conducting your job search, ask about these advantages available at many local firms:

Work/Life Balance: Many professionals desire to maintain a healthy balance between their professional and their personal lives. CPA’s are no different. Local firms are often more flexible making it possible for you to find scheduling and work place alternatives to meet your personal needs.

Staff Relationships: The types of relationships you have with colleagues, supervisors and Owners will be different at a large or local firm. In local firms, there is less of a divide between the Owners and you, and you have more access to top leaders. You also get to know everyone, at all levels of the firm; that unity is often reflected in lower turnover rates.

Corporate Culture: Culture is often defined as a blend of the values, principles and beliefs all companies develop over time. Organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other and their clients. Regardless of size, each firm’s culture will be different. Find one that best suits YOU.

Community Involvement: As local business owners, CPA’s are generally very involved in their communities, including volunteer efforts. At HKP, we pride ourselves on our philosophy of giving back to the communities in which we live and work. Corporately we provide assistance via pro bono work, annual fund-raising events for Food Lifeline, and staff donations via our “HKP Supports Our Communities” initiative. Individually our Owners and staff are involved in many organizations throughout the Puget Sound.

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