This May (May 29, 2022, to be exact) will mark my ten-year anniversary at Haskell & White, a Southern California CPA firm. With all the publicity surrounding “The Great Resignation”, and particularly its impact on the public accounting industry, I’d like to share my top – 10 reasons why I still love working here – and why I plan to stay for many years to come!
1. Opportunities – When I started my Haskell & White career as a brand-new audit Senior, the thought of moving up into the Firm’s management group seemed like a far-off dream. There were so many smart people above me – surely I would never know as much as they do. But one thing the partners consistently promised was opportunities. The opportunity to learn, the opportunity to work on challenging clients, and the opportunity to be coached by the best and brightest that the Firm had to offer. It was up to me to seize those opportunities, but if I did, I would also have the opportunity to earn promotions and grow my career. Now that I am a Principal at the Firm, I can say without a doubt that the Firm held up its end of the bargain.
2. Coaching & Mentoring – It’s hard to grow your career without others who are willing to invest in you. Early on, I was fortunate to work with individuals in the Firm’s leadership who would coach me in a way that pushed me to be better. It was never about criticizing me or my work, but rather showing me how to do the work better. Now I have several mentees at the Firm and it’s my responsibility to provide coaching and learning opportunities for them. This cycle of coaching is no accident – it’s consistent with several of the Firm’s operating values, including Valuing People, Constant Learning, and Success.
3. Giving Back – I’m a Millennial, and a phrase you may have heard describing Millennials is “Purpose over Paychecks”. While paychecks are great, we also want to know that we are doing some good in the world with our work. Everyone in the Firm’s management group is encouraged to join a non-profit board. The Firm has been recognized many times for its generosity and community involvement, including by Civic 50 Orange County (2021, 2019 and 2018) as well as CalCPA’s annual Public Service Award (2019), among others. The Firm also supports my board service at the UCI Diabetes Center. I take pride in working for an award-winning accounting firm that values social responsibility.
4. Culture – One of the biggest reasons I accepted my position with Haskell & White in the first place was the promise of a different kind of CPA firm. Coming from a large firm, the culture I knew could be best summed up by “The 5-Minute Rule”. This meant that you stayed at work five minutes past when your manager left. It was joked about, but it was true! The culture was that of being a warrior and working more hours than the next person, regardless of its impact on your family or personal life.
Haskell & White values teamwork and quality over hours. The Firm recognizes that happy employees are more productive employees. Firm leadership values a diverse set of backgrounds and opinions, and also values retaining its employees. This again goes back to one of the Firm’s operating values – Valuing People.
5. Work/life balance – This is perhaps the most overused phrase by recruiters in all industries, but particularly in public accounting. I don’t know of any public accounting firm that doesn’t advertise work/life balance, yet over the years I have met countless over-worked and out-of-balance accountants! I was newly married when I started my Haskell & White career, so it was extremely important to me to work for a firm that would give me the opportunity to pursue both my work and my family goals. This is not to say we don’t work hard – because we do. But our busy season compared to what I was used to at my previous firm is night and day. If it wasn’t, I would not still be here ten years later.
6. People – When you value your people, you get to work with a whole bunch of really great people! I have learned so much from so many of our people over the years. With a focus on hiring people with diverse backgrounds and skillsets, I have had the opportunity to work with some incredibly smart and talented people. And, with our regular Firm functions (from days at the beach, to happy hours, to holiday parties, etc.) I have had the opportunity to get to know my co-workers on a more personal level, and am happy to call many of them my personal friends.
7. Leadership – After coming from a firm where none of the partners knew my name, I think Firm leadership may be the biggest differentiator, because it impacts every other area on this list. From going to Ducks games with partners, to supporting my career growth, and even just stopping by my office to ask how I’m doing – Firm leadership fosters an environment of growth and inclusion.
8. Challenging Work – I wouldn’t be satisfied with my work if I wasn’t constantly challenged. From non-profits, to tech and biotech companies, to manufacturers and distributors, to real estate entities, to publicly traded companies, our client base runs the gamut. Which means the technical issues we work on change daily, from complex debt and equity transactions, to revenue recognition, to assisting clients with M&A advisory services, etc. Our clients expect us to not just be auditors or tax preparers, but to be trusted business advisors. Adding value to clients’ businesses is the most challenging – and fun – part of what we do.
9. Quality – Quality is not always the most fun thing to talk about, but it is imperative as a PCAOB registered firm. Not a week goes by where we are not having a discussion or training geared towards maximizing the quality of our work. When people are making investment decisions based on the financial statements we’re opining on, quality has to be a top priority. With five consecutive clean AICPA Peer Review reports and a history of outstanding inspection results from the PCAOB, Haskell & White has proven its commitment to quality for over 30 years. I take pride in working for a Firm that has earned a reputation for high-quality work.
10. Training – It’s nearly impossible to produce high-quality work without high-quality training. Every year we have many live training classes – from new staff workshops all the way up through complex technical topics. The Firm also subscribes to an on-demand training platform so that any member of the Firm can take training anytime on just about any topic. We also host trainings for our clients. From our SEC Roundtables, to our Annual Non-Profit Conference, we keep our clients abreast of the latest accounting and financial reporting developments.
After reflecting on the past ten years at Haskell & White, I have a lot to be thankful for. If you work in public accounting and want to have an honest conversation about what it’s like to work at our Southern California CPA firm, let’s talk!