Transitioning from Public Accounting to an IPO Company

Transitioning from Public Accounting to an IPO Company: 4 Most Asked Questions

As unicorn companies like Airbnb, DoorDash, and C3.AI go public, the IPO market is heating up and set to continue into 2021. The Wall Street Journal wrote: “Companies raised $167.2 billion through 454 offerings on U.S. exchanges this year through Dec. 24, compared with the previous full-year record of $107.9 billion at the height of the dot-com boom in 1999.”

This recent spike in IPOs will create a huge demand for Big 4 CPA’s with expertise in revenue recognition, technical accounting, SEC reporting, M&A, internal audit/SOX, and global finance.

Gava Talent Solutions has over 20 years of experience recruiting top talent in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here Paul Court discusses some common questions received from Big 4 CPA’s looking to transition from public to industry.

When translating my skills from public accounting to industry, what position is right for me?

If you are a Sr. Associate or Acting Senior, here are typical roles for you to consider:

  • Revenue Accountant or Analyst
  • Accountant
  • SEC and Technical Accountant
  • M&A Due Diligence Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • SOX/Internal Audit

If you’re a Manager, look at these positions:

  • Revenue Manager, both operational and technical accounting
  • Accounting Manager or start-up Controller
  • Manager of Technical Accounting and SEC reporting
  • Internal Audit/SOX
  • Finance Manager

Finally, if you are at the Director level, I would recommend the following:

  • Director of Revenue Operations or Technical Accounting
  • Controller (small to mid-size companies)
  • Director of Accounting
  • Director of Technical Accounting and SEC reporting
  • Assistant Corporate Controller
  • Director of Finance

How much of an increase can I expect in base compensation, bonus, or equity when I transition to industry?

Of course, the compensation package will vary based on location, revenue, headcount, and public versus private companies. It’s not uncommon to see increases of 15-20% in base salary plus a bonus and equity (if applicable). You can also look forward to avoiding those busy season hours compared to public accounting.

Should I consider making a move now, despite the pandemic?

There are a number of things to consider when making a move during the pandemic: financial stability, hot industries, and company culture to name a few. Typically, most candidates transition in Q2 and Q3, yet there are more opportunities for your consideration and less competition in Q4 and Q1. The short answer, don’t let the pandemic stop you.

If I join a hyper growth pre-IPO start-up, is there an opportunity for work life balance?

Pre-IPO companies can be very attractive to candidates as the compensation from initial RSU grants is a huge upside. On the downside accounting teams are typically lean with an expectation of longer work hours and implementing many key initiatives related to the IPO – i.e. ERP system implementation, IPO readiness, extensive audits related to S1 filings.

About the Author

Paul manages global talent acquisition operations in the US, Philippines and India, supporting clients in 100+ countries. With over 20 years of experience, Paul has a proven track record in executing talent acquisition strategies and building world class teams.

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