Posted by: LYF | June 11, 2009

How to resign

I haven’t posted in a while.  And this is the reason.  I resigned.

The right way to resign is with class.  You only have to give two weeks notice, but three definitely doesn’t hurt.  You could resign during busy season, but it wouldn’t kill you to wait until after April 30th.  You could resign when the majority of the partners are on vacation, but it shows more respect if you do it in person.  It’s best to leave on a high note.

It can be tempting to go out in a blaze of glory or pepper your actions with a passive aggressive tone, especially if you don’t like the people you work with.  But it’s a bad idea.  You can’t win.  If you’re going this route, you’d have to ensure your actions could never come back to bite you in the ass, which is impossible.

So the right way to resign is with class, the best way to resign is through foresight and planning.  Here’s how this went down and how I will ultimately end up in Egypt for a month this August.

I knew it was important to get at least a year’s worth of experience under my belt after I was fired.  Getting fired drop kicked my credibility in the face and sacked my confidence in the balls.  Working at a firm for at least a year would go a long way in getting me back on track.  At that point I was ready to take anything.  Starting last February I knew that I’d be looking for a job at the end of busy season this year.  That’s when I started planning.  I planned for my resignation a year in advance.  I made a timeline with milestones and I made sure I hit every one.  I had a macro plan and it looked something like this.

February (start calling recruiters/update resume)

  • February 24th had a meeting with a recruiter and discussed my plan.  I wanted to quit in June and start working at a new firm in Sept.  This would give me the entire summer off.

March/April (Go through list of firms with recruiter/decide on trip in August)

May (interviews/decide on trip/buy tickets)

  • May 13th and 21st – first and second interview with new firm
  • Decide on Egypt and begin talking with my friend’s sister who’s a travel agent
  • May 30th tickets bought.

June (decision/resign)

  • June 3rd I signed the work agreement.
  • June 5th I resigned.

Now I’m working out the details.

When you resign it’s important to read the entire policies and procedures manual – especially reimbursements for the CKE, SOA, UFE, prep courses and medical expenses.  It’s very common for firms to require employees to pay these amounts back within a year of getting them reimbursed.

And this is why my last day is Saturday July 4th instead of Friday July 3rd.  If I picked Friday I’d owe the firm $1,400 on top of my $1,300 UFE fee.  That’s almost $3,000 I’d have to pay back.  It’s a good idea to ask your new employer to cover these costs.  They might not, but it’s not an unreasonable request.

Vacation days are another important issue.  Some firms give you vacation straight up.  Others accrue it over the course of the year.  If you’re planning to resign in June and took 2 weeks vacation in May, you would owe the firm money if they accrued vacation.  That would suck.  My firm accrues vacation so as at June 30th I will have accrued half of my vacation days or 1 week.  This allows me to take next week off and volunteer at the IdeaCity conference.  Where I plan to talk to this guy about giant squids for a prolonged period of time.

After you’ve thoroughly combed through all of the firms policies and procedures you’ll have to focus on people.  Understand who you’re dealing with.  For example, I work with 4 partners, 2 secretaries, 1 office manager and 12 staff accountants.  We have 2 lead partners and 2 semi-retired partners.  The secretaries and office managers control the flow of information in the office and everyone else works on files.

I told all the staff accountants 2 weeks in advance of my formal notice that I was quitting.  I did it because everyone I work with is awesome and I wanted their input.  I also wanted them to hear it from me, which lessens the impact of the formal email that’s ultimately circulated when someone resigns.

Then I told the partners.  I told the head partner first.  Don’t mess this up.  Talk to the person you know you’re supposed to talk to.  Talking to a partner that’s retiring when you know you should be talking to the managing partner makes you look like a coward.

People respect it when you are forthright.  As much as it sucked, I walked into my managing partner’s office, told him that I had decided to resign and handed in my letter.  And I repeated this with each other partner.  Things can fall apart easily here, so be warned.  Your boss will want to know why you’ve decided to resign.  Give them reasons that they can’t compete with; otherwise it will turn into a really awkward bargaining session.  And be sure to say as little as possible.  Your partner will be surprised and even though they’ll be asking questions, treat them as rhetorical ones.

Once the partners knew, I told the secretaries and office managers.  They would have found out that day anyways since the partners sit closest to them.  If they didn’t hear it directly, they would’ve overheard it eventually.

This strategy has worked perfectly.  Even though I’m leaving at the end of this month work isn’t awkward.  I still joke around with everyone and I still high five my partners.  It’s the perfect scenario.  It just took a stupid amount of planning.  Now I have the entire month of July to look forward to where I’ll be taking a personal training course and generally doing nothing.  Then come August I ship off to Egypt where I’ll be partying/taking in the sites for a month.

Epic Win.



  1. I’m an American grad student in accounting who’s commented before. We have similar pop culture tastes, and I really appreciate your insights into the first few years of an auditing career.

    I lived in Cairo for a year not long ago and have done most sightseeing/fun trips possible in Egypt and many adventures in the nearby region. You may be of Egyptian background and have family there or be visiting friends who live there, so I won’t write too much here. But if you want any help or feedback planning your trip, email me. Beware of ancient Egypt overload. And think about taking a few days and flying to Beirut, then touring Lebanon and Syria. Beirut nightlife is awesome – the women are amazing.

    • Solid ideas…send me an email at because I don’t think I have yours and I could definitely use some ideas for my trip.

  2. […] on the heels of my discussion of when people choose to leave, comes news from LYF – he has resigned from his current firm and has done so with […]

  3. You’re going to have an awesome summer, well played.

    The headline on the post I wrote which essentially applauds this one will no doubt first make my friends think that I did something myself. Ah, the joys of somewhat misleading headlines. 😉

  4. Hey I’m working for a Big 4 CA firm and I’m planning to quit soon. How should I go about finding out what the firm’s policies are regarding the clawback of CKE/SOA/UFE exam fees?? Certainly these policies are not just listed on the intranet site for everyone to see. And if I start asking HR, they would know of my intention to quit before I am ready to do so (securing a new job first, etc…)

    So what is a subtle way to get my hands on information on the firm’s clawback policies??

    • I’d go with what Krupo is saying. It’s not uncommon for firms to post their h/r policies. I’ve seen it done.

  5. AFAIK big four generally don’t claw back, no wait, some might – depends on the type of exam.

    Check your HR intranet site over “exam fees.”

    If there’s a policy it better be up, or the HR team is *whacked*.

  6. For the above poster, the HR Policy HAS to be posted on the intranet (especially if you are in a Big 4), otherwise your HR rep. for your office would get swamped with general HR questions which could have been easily answered through an HR manual posting on your intranet.

    LYF: Maybe I’m stupid, but are you leaving to another firm because you still need your hours, or are you going somewhere else (industry or whatever..). I’m also just a recent UFE grad (2008.. same year as you I believe) but I only have my audit/assurance hours complete, what remains for me are those pesky “elective hours” which basically translate to more audit hours really. At the pace I am billing, looks like I will attain them around Jul’10.

    Good post though.. very logical and I agree with your approach.

    • The place I’m moving to has more long-term opportunities for me and fits into a broader strategy that I’m working on – which I might flush out here in the future.

      More importantly, it’s a bigger firm and has larger clients as compared to my old firm. And yes, I did pass in 08 as well, but I need assurance hours. Fortunately, I like assurance and that’s what I’ll be doing at the new place. I should have my letters by July too.

      It sucks because it’s a really bitter sweet transition. I genuinely liked everyone at my old firm, but it was too big an opportunity for me to pass up.

  7. @SA – funny, most people get their hours way sooner than their 30 months.

    • Definitely agree. I only need another 250 audit hours or so. That’s only a few months.

  8. Krupo: I know 😐 I blame myself for eating alot of hours this past busy season. I even got talked recently to start booking more and not worry so much anymore.

    But weird. I talked to a co-worker in my firm, and she even has less billable hours then I do right now. It is kinda depressing seeing that I will get my 30months at Mar’10, but at the pace I am billing, I should have all my hours by the end of Jun’10. Unless by miracle, I get a ton more this upcoming summer (highly unlikely as I will be gone vacationing for about 3 weeks).

    Oh well. Gotta keep going 🙂

    • I present to you “Exhibit A” in the case of “why you should never eat hours.”


      Good luck!

  9. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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