Life in the Big Four, Part VII: Public Service Announcement and the IPO

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It has recently been called to my attention that some dear readers have expressed shock and horror at the amount of alcohol use alluded to in my column. This has caused me to pause and reflect, to reconsider my current alcohol intake.

It occurred to me that these readers are correct. I don't drink nearly often enough.

After all, without alcoholics like myself, Jesus would not have been nearly as big a hit at parties in Canaan.

Now let's turn our attention to today's topic: The Initial Public Offering. To pick up where the reader left off, I was still a new staff, and Senior Matt had enjoyed my work from III-First Client. He was working on an IPO with a senior manager and a partner, and thought it would be a "Great Opportunity™" for me to jump on board this project.

I must interject here. Those of you new and naïve, if you are told at work that someone has a "Great Opportunity™," immediately ask to be transferred. Unless this "Great Opportunity™" is being offered by a Nigerian Prince who wants your bank account information.

Back to the story. Being asked for such a prestigious assignment flattered me, and I immediately agreed. That was the last night I would sleep for more than 4 hours in the next six weeks.

Repeatedly tying out the S-1 from draft to draft is thrilling and exciting work. While I realize that most of you are dying for the details of this amazing S-1 tie-out, I have to leave you hanging and discuss other aspects of the IPO.

This was my first (and to this day, one of few) experience with a private client. I realize that many readers deal with private clients everyday... but after historically only working on public clients, it was a new experience to me. Word of warning to any newbies out there – they are called "Private" firms for a reason. Most non-public firms value their privacy to some degree, but this client went slightly overboard. They were particularly sensitive about the executive salary information, which I suppose is reasonable.....for a private firm not undergoing an IPO. The senior manager found it incredibly ironic that our client was completely obsessed with the privacy of their financial information, yet was spending a massive amount of money in an attempt to make it public to any idiot with a Yahoo! account. Laughing specifically about the executive compensation info, the senior manager used to say, "The day this IPO goes through, we can duct-tape this shit to the bathroom door and no one can bitch about it."

Tying out the S-1 was not my most important job. In fact, a trained polar bear could have done this, as long as the A/C was strong enough. My suspicion to this day is that I was called onto the job because Senior Matt was too busy. Not too busy in the sense of extra IPO-related work, but in the sense of "we need someone to go out and pick up dinner each night. Preferably, someone with a piddling billing rate." Seniors are far too important to be delegated to this type of work, and staff, at roughly $11.50 per hour, are just as efficient as paying for delivery. More so, because they don't grumble when sent off without a tip. Also, we weren't in "Intern Season."

Alas, Dear Readers, your author was of course responsible for picking up call-ahead dinner from the local Outback, Applebees, TGI Fridays, or whatever other restaurant that had been worked into our rotation.

Until now, I had not mentioned that the company was located near a coastal area. This would have been a delight, but unfortunately we were in the middle of one of the most active hurricane seasons on record.

One afternoon, it began raining heavily. No worries. The first sign of trouble appeared when I was out picking up Outback that night for dinner. While driving past the Chevy dealership that night, I noticed a crowd of guys wearing their blue salesman uniforms. They were sprinting back and forth between the cars on the lot.

Curiosity took hold, and I pulled in. "What in the hell are you guys doing?"

"We're moving all of the cars off the lot."


"They'll float away when the lot floods tonight."

I laughed to myself. When the lot floods.


After picking up dinner, I passed the Chevy dealership on the way back to the client, about thirty minutes later. The lot was already flooded.

I guess you learn something new every day.

We were still working at 3 a.m. when the partner opened the back door at the client's offices. To say it was raining would be a slight understatement. Prior to that evening, there had been a small, 3-foot wide drainage ditch separating the client's back sidewalk from a football field. By 3 a.m., the drainage ditch was full and the water was lapping at the door on our side, and spilling out into the football field on the other side.

"Hey, Anonymous!" shouted the partner. "If you can jump from here to the field, I'll let you go home for the weekend."

Needless to say, I stayed at the client that weekend. But at least I got to return to my hotel room, soaking wet, immediately after my attempt.

Not everyone is able to experience their first IPO and first hurricane in the same week.

* This is one in a series of reminiscences about life in the Big Four accounting firms. The author has asked to remain anonymous.

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