How Can I Change Lines Of Service (LoS) After I Accept My Offer?

change management

From the mailbag:

Hey Andrew,

Hope all is well with you and that your company(ies) are performing well.

My question for you is this: I had an internship for tax with PwC last summer. I performed really well and was afforded an offer, but since then, I’ve decided I want to do auditing instead. What do you think I should do about asking PwC to switch? An important note, I start full-time in the fall and am currently doing my masters/cpa exams.

Any advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon.

For those of you who are unaware, most public accounting firms have three lines of service:
  • Audit
  • Tax
  • Advisory (consulting)

Depending on the firm, you may be doing more than one line of service from Day 1. Many small firms want you to do a little bit of everything. But for large accounting firms, they almost always want you to commit. In fact, inside the firm, the different LoS’s are often like different companies entirely.

You’re in a tough situation. Now that you want to change, they don’t have to give you the next position. That being said, if you know you want to make this change, you need to do it from day 1. The earlier the better. If you change a year or two down the line, it is literally lost career time. All you got was the paycheck. Time to start over.

While they don’t have to give you a position, they probably will. Interns really don’t contribute much to engagements. They’re trying to see if they like you.

What’s your general work ethic? Do you get along with the team? Do you fit into the company culture?

The answer for you is yes. You got an offer! They loved you.

The tax side of the house if going to be upset, but I don’t care that much and neither should you. You’re not going to be working there. Your bonus, raise, which engagement you’re on is all chosen by your new family, audit.

Think of it like an old girlfriend you broke up with and a new girlfriend you just started dating. If you had a to go on a date who would you rather go with?

The new one! Fresh, clean start, no baggage!

This won’t hold you back and if it’s truly what you want to do, go for it! The only question now is, how?

WATCH: Andrew Critique’s An Accounting Resume

I would send an email to HR, or an audit manager, senior manager, director or partner that you have a very good relationship with. Nobody from tax and nobody below manager. The tax side will try and keep you and below manager, they have no say in the process.

But don’t say anything in the email, just ask to go for a cup of coffee.

I’d probably write something like this:

Hi Dan,

How have you been? I’m really looking forward to coming back to the firm in the fall!

I’m reaching out to you because there is something I’d like to discuss with you and I think it would be better to do in person. It’s about my future at the firm and I’d like to get your thoughts and opinion. Are you free for coffee in the next few weeks? I can go early before work, over lunch, or whatever works for you!

Feel free to give me a call at (555) 555-5555

Best regards,

Andrew Argue

If they call you because it’s easier for them, go ahead and have the conversation over the phone. Either way, say something like this:

So I want to get your opinion as I’ve thought about this a lot. I’ve spoken with friends, family, professors, and contemplated this for quite some time. I’m thinking that my passion is more for audit than tax. I am incredibly grateful for what the firm has done for me and before I make my decision, I want to get your thoughts on:

  1. What do you think I should be thinking of in making this decision?
  2. Have people switched before at the firm?
  3. What would the process be if I did want to switch to audit?

I haven’t made my decision yet, I want to make sure I sought your counsel first (Andrew note: even if that’s not true, say it)

Then let the conversation flow from there! Most likely they’ll totally support you and do what they can to get you on the audit side. They may ask you talk to a tax partner before making your decision.

COURSE: How To Get ANY Accounting Job In 3 Months Or Less

Assuming nothing changes, send an email a day or two later thanking them for their input and support. You’ve made your decision. You want to change!

I must caution other readers here. While the tax to audit move is easy, it’s not the same from Audit to Tax or Audit/Tax to advisory. Many times Tax and Advisory have specific requirements like Masters in Tax degrees or other experience. That’s why the inquiry meeting is so important!

You don’t want to barge in and say, “I’m ready for advisory” then they say, “ok, find it at another firm”

Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress!

  • Madad rab


    I accepted my offer for tax in PwC as well. I did internship in tax with another Big 4. I am in the process of studying for my CPA however, I start in fall. I picked tax as my line of service but I really want to join recruiting team. I know this is something they don’t offer newly grads but should I talk to them about it? The reason why I am interested in recruiting is because I have 5 years of sales representative experience. I recently realized sitting in front of the desktop doing taxes all day long or doing research is not my thing. I want to meet new people and be able to sell the firm to hire talented students. I’m really passionate about it! Any thoughts? Should I talk to the recruiting manager? Thank you.

    • Madad rab

      Hire talented candidates and do other recruiting tasks*

    • TheBeanCountercom

      I would reach out to the recruiting manager and ask to have a cup of coffee or lunch in the coming weeks. Then have the exact discussion described above. Better to change before you start. It is possible they won’t have a position for you but very unlikely.