Home > Knocking on Wood, Two Job Offers in one week!

Knocking on Wood, Two Job Offers in one week!

November 9th, 2014 at 10:00 pm

After a very long transition from academic to accountant, I am hoping that last week marks the end of one phase and the beginning of the next. Fingers crossed, knocking on wood, finding a lucky rabbit's foot, and all that, because I thought three years ago that I had reached the "holy Grail" of the full-time job with benefits, but that one turned out to last only three months. So I'm not going to believe that this really IS a turning point for at least half a year into this.

Just in case you have not previously encounted my blog, my brief backstory is that I once was an untenured college professor and ten years ago, I decided to become an accountant instead. I finally attained my CPA earlier this year, after five years spent on schooling and exams and another five years spent gaining experience at part-time and temporary/contract jobs.

Now it looks as though I'll have two offers--one of them is just an oral offer, though, so I'm waiting for the actual offer letter, which I expect to get tomorrow, that will state details such as salary, benefits, and starting date.

One of the job offers is at a smallish (15 permanent staff) full-service CPA firm 22 miles from home. This would be a contract-to-hire job, with the owner indicating a very high probability that it would turn permanent after tax season. I'd be in the corporate tax area, with some individual tax, and would have the opportunity to work on reviews, compilations, and audits during the non-tax season part of the year. 51 hours a week during tax season (mandatory Saturday mornings), 29 hours a week over the summer (Fridays off), and 40 hours a week the rest of the year. A couple of years of this type of experience and I would feel that I had the necessary background to consider opening my own firm, which is not yet the case (nor do I really anticipate wanting to open my own firm--it might be another story if I were 10 years younger). This is the type of job I've have been focused on getting for the past two years.

The other job offer is rather different, and is in line with what I planned when I originally set out on my new path a decade ago. My background is in psychology, and I used to do research on self-defeating behavior. So when I thought about switching careers, I remembered my own lack of financial smarts during my 20s and first thought about becoming a financial planner, since CFPs are interested in both aspects of people's psychology (their goals, their risk tolerance) as well as in their finances. But then I looked into CFP programs and found out that most graduates landed in sales jobs for firms like Ameriprise. Becoming a salesperson and working on commission really did not appeal to me, so that's the point at which I decided to get my CPA instead and become a tax accountant and "back door" into also offering planning services.

The second offer is to actually BE a CPA/Financial Planner for a small, fee-based financial planning firm targeting high net-worth taxpayers, primarily doctors, lawyers, and executives. In this role, I'd spend about 50% of my time on tax planning, and I'd also learn about retirement, education, estate, and risk planning and get my CFP along the way. I wouldn't actually be doing returns, however. But what's really neat about this job is that they *like* the fact that I have the psychology background. While I've been focused on applying for tax accountant jobs, I've considered my PhD my "dirty little secret" and it doesn't appear on my have to google my name or scroll down to the bottom of my Linked In profile to find out about it. But while I DO love the tax work, I ALSO love psychology as much as I ever did, so there's an additional excitement about this job for me.

The planning job feels like the risky but potentially higher reward choice (risky since I haven't done much of the planning before), while the accounting firm feels like the safer choice.

I still have yet to get the offer letter in hand from the planning firm, but I expect based on our conversation that the planning job would pay at least as much as the accounting firm job, would start six weeks earlier (this month rather than Jan. 5), benefits could apply from the beginning (depending on whatever waiting period is included in their plan rules), and also, it's basically an 8-5 job (with a one-hour lunch) that is located precisely ONE MILE from my house--I'd be walking except on days when the weather is extreme in one way or another.

So you can probably tell that I'm leaning towards the CFP job, pending seeing the actual offer in hand.

But recalling my previous experience getting hired for a "permanent" job with benefits and getting let go 3 months later when they lost their biggest client, I am trying to keep my excitement in check.

Hopefully this is the start of a new phase in both my career and for my personal finances, where my balance sheet continues to improve as the markets have done well and our local real estate market is rebounding, but where I have now amassed some personal loan debt, most at low or zero percent rate, but personal rather than mortgage loan debt nonetheless, enough that it will probably take a couple of years to pay off to get myself back to the state of my only debt being mortgage debt that I was in five years ago when I left teaching.

9 Responses to “Knocking on Wood, Two Job Offers in one week!”

  1. patientsaver Says:

    This is fantastic news, Dido. I am so happy for you, and crossing my fingers all goes as planned.

    I would also be leaning toward the CFP job. I have also thought I would enjoy that kind of work but at this point in my life, I'm really looking forward to retirement rather than anything else. One mile from the house? Perfection.

    I would also be very cautious about the accounting job becus I could count any number of contract jobs, said to be "contract to hire" and then it didn't work out. I mean, if they really want you, why wouldn't they just hire you outright?

    I am sure you worked hard for that PhD, so you should put it on your resume. I say that becus since working at the bank, I've noticed they are really partial to hiring people with advanced (beyond BA) degrees, and in the case of my zero-work-ethic colleague I sit next to, they hired her becus she has an MBA, though you sure wouldn't know it from her "bare minimum" attitude about work.

    Congrats and please let us know what happens. We're rooting for you!

  2. patientsaver Says:

    Actually, you just reminded me that I also had healthcare thru the Affordable Care Act right before I joined the bank. So actually, I was at that point paying about $404 a month for health insurance, though I had been paying more earlier. Scrambling to keep healthcare, I went from maxing out COBRA to the state health plan, to a plan offered by a temp agency, then to Obamacare.

  3. Dido Says:

    Did any of your payments for health insurance include an advance
    payment subsidy? If so check that your taxable income + any muni bond
    interest (or foreign income) is less than 46,680 for the year,
    otherwise you will owe the subsidy back.

    When I signed up for insurance last year, the calculator estimated
    that I qualified for a $20/month subsidy. I decided to split the
    difference and took half of it. I've been paying $363.75 (out of a
    bill of $373.75) for a Gold Plan this year, which is much better than
    what I was paying previously either on my own or prior to that,
    through COBRA at my last permanent employer.

  4. Dido Says:

    Thanks, PS! The not hiring outright is because they are going through
    an agency, and the proprietor will need to buy out my contract from
    them. Of course, he wants to see the goods in action before making it
    firm. I understand that.

    The PhD may go back on the resume for planning jobs, but the problem
    with a PSYCHOLOGY PhD is that everyone worries that you are analyzing
    them. I took it off the resume 3 years ago after interviewing at one
    of the better local firms and getting into a long discussion with the
    HR director about marketing. I decided that the PhD is salient enough
    that it gets in the way of my being taken seriously as a tax
    accountant. The CPA is considered a "terminal degree" for the
    purposes of being able to teach with it at a college (at least in
    Instructor or Adjunct slot), so that's what I use for the accounting
    jobs. You now have to have the educational equivalent of a master's
    to get the CPA, so it stands in for advanced education.

  5. doingitallwrong Says:

    Congrats on getting your CPA! I have worked at a CPA/CFP firm for 13 years now, and I will say that overall the CPA business declines every year with the advanced capability of Quicken, TurboTax, etc., but the CFP business has held steady. (It would increase if my boss were doing seminars, advertising, or actively pursuing new clients, but he's close to retirement so is fine with the status quo.) We do mostly personal income taxes, whereas you'd be doing corporate, and that will make some difference, especially if you'd be dealing with large corporations, but our "small business" business has decreased by probably 80% since I started there. Just something to consider!

  6. Dido Says:

    doingitallwrong, Thanks for that! Good additional information that tips the balance even further. The CPA firm is growing, but it's still more SMB, not large corps--the large corps around here go to the Big Four or the regional firms, and this firm is still below that level (but still, higher than the 1-3 partner firms where I have worked until now). My one regret is that I won't actually be doing returns, but then, there is the compensation of no real busy season as a result! There is a local firm that does do both tax and planning, but the son-in-law of the owner has recently been brought in as VP and is changing the direction of the firm to focus more on younger clients and more on the brokerage as opposed to the tax planning.

  7. MonkeyMama Says:

    Congrats on the job offers!

    My tax experience is completely opposite of doingitallwrong. Over time, with government agency budget cuts, we spend a lot more time than before as intermediaries and deflecting piles of incorrect IRS notices. & then we spend a LOT of time correcting turbo tax returns and tax returns prepared by other tax professionals. My feeling has always been, "Death and Taxes." We are a very small office, but we have always had more work than we want.

    But yeah, those are two very different offers. The one mile commute sounds great!

    Leaving the PhD off the resume is smart, for any CPA job. (I could see the value in the PhD and it depends and some employers are more open minded. But there is also, "The last 5 higher degree individuals could not do the job and were insane" bias. Regionally, we have really solid undergrad programs. I think the higher degrees programs tend to be more questionable, and so why we have that experience).

  8. Rachael777 Says:

    exciting news and congrats. the CFP job sounds like a dream come true. I was thinking of that too for a 2nd career.. go for it

  9. Dido Says:

    Monkeymama, interesting to hear about your different experience from doingitallwrong with regard to tax. There's only one CPA firm (out of five I've worked at) where I've been there for more than a year, so I've not been able to get a sense myself of trends.

    Yes, definitely a bias against the PhD for CPAs. Mine's in psychology, and the benefit has to date been mostly that all the years in academia have made me a good tax researcher. Plus it's contributed some to my communication skills and savvy--but those progress even more just with practice.

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