Lack of personal time is the biggest downside of a career in public accounting, according to a survey of CPAs at public accounting firms conducted by nationally recognized consultant Steve Erickson.
Not enough personal time was cited by 44% of those surveyed as the aspect they dislike most about public accounting. Liability and risk was the worst aspect of public accounting for 18% of those surveyed. Others cited regulation (12%), people/partners (5.5%), complexity of service/the work (3%), clients (1.5%) and other (16%).
"These results tell me that accountants aren't very happy with the time commitment involved with their work," Erickson says. "They need to find a way to work less while obtaining the same results. Part of the answer may be better leverage. When I ask accountants if somebody with less experience could do their jobs, 50% to 60% say yes which tells me that they aren't working efficiently. Ultimately, CPA firms will have to devise more leveraged service models that maintain a high level of interaction with their clients in order to be successful. Doing it the same way isn't going to get them the quality of life that they're seeking" The survey was conducted in the first half of 2003. More than 350 partners and accountants nationwide responded.
Interestingly, when human resources directors at accounting firms were asked what CPAs like least about public accounting, 80% answered lack of personal time. The finding indicates a disconnect between partners' perception of what people dislike most about their public accounting careers and what CPAs tell their HR leaders.