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Peterson Sullivan Overview

Seattle, WA
51 to 200 employees
1953
Company - Private
Accounting
$25 to $50 million (USD) per year
Peterson Sullivan is a leading local public accounting and business advisory firm based in Seattle, Washington. We are ranked among the top 10 largest CPA firms in the Puget Sound region, with 200 professionals and support staff.

We serve clients in many ... Read more

Mission: To be an agile firm that is a valued asset to our clients all year round—anticipating needs, understanding their business, and providing the expertise and insight to help achieve goals.

Company Updates

  • Have you read this month’s CCH Public Accounting Report? Managing Partner, Chris Russell is quoted: “At Peterson Sullivan, we have received considerable accolades [for workplace, growth and client service excellence]. This collective group of acknowledgments could be considered an achievement, but they’re really results of what is truly my proudest accomplishment – and that is our phenomenal culture. It has been a long-term, cooperative effort of our entire organization to transform the culture while enjoying healthy growth. We are proud to foster a workplace where employees willingly go above and beyond in their work, advocate for the organization, and intend to stay in the future.” Check out the full report for more on Chris’ thoughts on our amazing culture!

  • Peterson Sullivan is pleased to announce the launch of three new consulting practices: IT Risk Services, led by Cody Page, Managed Accounting Services, led by Nick Norton, and Strategic Business Consulting Services, led by Andrew Mitchell. For 65 years, we’ve serviced our clients with the commitment, integrity, expertise, and respect that helps companies focus on their business, and we are proud to continue this practice today.

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Peterson Sullivan – Why Work For Us?


We're only as good as our people.  At Peterson Sullivan, the high energy and entrepreneurial spirit of Seattle have been in our firm's DNA – and on display in our associates, managers, and partners – for almost 65 years.  This spirit has led to exceptional client relationships and healthy growth.  Together, we set the bar high and go the extra mile for our clients and for each other.  Together, we grow not only a successful practice but also successful clients.  Together, we build something greater than ourselves.  Together, we can be more than we ever imagined.

We provide comprehensive accounting, audit, and tax services to publicly traded companies, closely held businesses, nonprofits, auto dealerships, and high net worth individuals throughout the Pacific Northwest and internationally.  Our over 180 professionals draw on a deep pool of knowledge, skill, and experience to provide sound advice and serve our client's needs.  We are committed to technical excellence, uncommonly good communication, and exemplary client service.

Our Values are the key drivers of our culture and support our actions:

Integrity

  • We are honest hard workers and straight talkers.
  • We keep our word.  We hold ourselves accountable to our clients and to each other.
  • We do what's right, not what's easy.

Respect

  • We make and keep commitments.
  • We are empowered to go the extra mile for our community, clients, and fellow employees.
  • We communicate and connect in a thoughtful, personable manner.

Commitment

  • We know our people are our strength; we encourage collaboration, learning, innovation, and creativity.
  • We are passionate about serving the communities in which we live, work, and play.

Expertise

  • We focus on continuous improvement to ensure we stay on top of emerging issues that matter to our clients and community.
  • Each of us is a knowledgeable resource—and together, we bring clients the benefits of our shared expertise and insight.

See how far you can go when you put your passion into practice.

For self-starters who want to grow a great career and enjoy the journey, Peterson Sullivan is the best of all worlds. You’ll work with some of the accounting profession’s top talents in an office with a major presence in the heart of downtown Seattle. The high energy and entrepreneurial spirit of Seattle have been in our firm’s DNA for almost 65 years, leading to exceptional client relationships and healthy growth.

Concentrating all of our expertise, energy, and resources in the city we love gives the firm unique strengths that unite us in setting the bar high and going the extra mile—for our clients and for each other.

When the fit is right, there’s no better place to find your passion, focus on the client work you love, build a stellar career—and enjoy the company along the way.

As an associate, you come to expect the unexpected. It's hard to pinpoint what you will be doing on a daily basis, because each day is unique! You get constantly challenged with new situations and projects, with a variety of different clients – the work keeps you on your toes. Any given day you have the opportunity to work with a multitude of associates and seniors. 

Day in the Life of a Tax Associate with Allison Popnoe

Types of work:

  • Prepare individual, partnership, corporate, gift, trust, estate, and nonprofit tax returns
  • Update fixed asset schedules and prepare depreciation reports
  • Prepare estimated tax payment vouchers for individuals
  • Prepare extensions for various types of tax returns
  • Prepare LIFO calculations for dealership clients
  • Attend applicable in-house CPE training sessions

7:00 – 8:00 am

  • Arrive at the office
  • Catch up with coworkers, get some coffee, tea, or breakfast from the breakroom
  • Read through emails for firm updates, important tax updates, or information from supervisors
  • Review and check for any updates on statuses of projects currently assigned
  • Contact Resource Manager and Tax Managers when workload is low to ask for more assignments
  • Establish a priority list of all assignments

8:00 – 12:00 pm

  • Work through the priority list of returns to prepare and other projects to complete
  • Begin preparing tax returns by organizing information from PDF work-papers provided by the client and entering calculations into the tax return software
  • Compile a list of questions that arise when working through the return
  • Research the tax treatment of unfamiliar topics
  • Request to meet with the AIC (Accountant In Charge) of return to review list of compiled questions
  • Communicate with supervisors about progress and status of current projects
  • Contact supervisors or clients for missing information to help keep projects moving

12:00 – 1:00 pm

  • Get lunch at one of the many restaurants downtown with co-workers or coach, or eat in our firm lunchroom

1:00 – 3:00 pm

  • Check email or other communication tools for answers to outstanding questions from clients or supervisors
  • Update tax returns and workpapers as needed with new information
  • Once all applicable client information has been keyed in the tax software, generate a draft of the return and complete a thorough self-review
  • Sign-off on the draft return and submit to the reviewing supervisor

3:00 – 4:00 pm

  • Go through the list of review-points from reviewing supervisor and update the return as necessary
  • Seek out clarification on any review-points that are unfamiliar
  • Clear the review-points by updating the tax software with corrections, sign-off on the second draft, and send back to the reviewing supervisor

4:00 – 5:00 pm

  • Review statuses of current projects and update priority list items as needed
  • Update supervisors on the status of current returns
  • Enter and submit daily timesheet to include billable and non-billable hours worked

After Hours

  • Study for CPA exams as often as possible!
  • Enjoy catching up with co-workers at our monthly firm happy hour
  • Meet new CPAs and prospective clients at WSCPA and other networking events
  • Assist with on-campus recruiting activities, such as attending Beta Alpha Psi meetings
  • Participate in one of our many sports teams – softball, dodgeball, basketball, beach volleyball

Best Part of my Job

There are many reasons that I enjoy being a part of the team at Peterson Sullivan. First and foremost, the people at our firm are some of the best and brightest– professionals who are driven to excel in their careers and still make time to help others excel as well. Another aspect that I value is the fact that PS is a mid-sized firm. This means we have the chance to work with a variety of clients and have access to an abundance of resources, while still enjoying a culture where each individual is valued, respected, and rewarded. In addition, PS gives employees of all levels the opportunity to work on interesting and fulfilling projects. Of course, the work can be extremely challenging, but being able to work through the challenge, learn from others, and grow as a tax professional is very gratifying.

Beyond encouraging hard work and continuous learning, PS also fosters a fun work environment! I really like the creative events planned by our Culture Club because they promote collaboration and camaraderie. Whether it’s playing Busy Season Bingo, dressing up for Spirit Saturdays, voting on the best signature cocktail at our firm happy hour, or playing putt-putt golf throughout the office as a fundraising event, PS offers plenty of opportunities for us to balance our hard work with a little fun.

I am motivated to come to work every day because each day at PS is an opportunity to work with amazing talent, learn something new, and gain personal and professional fulfillment.

A Day in the Life of a Audit Associate with Beau Butaud 

In the Office (about 20% of your time): It’s Monday and you finished an audit last week. You are scheduled to be in the office this week before heading out on another audit next week. Oh, and the Seahawks won on Sunday.

  • Attend a planning meeting. This is actually my favorite part of the audit process. Every audit has a planning meeting. It’s a chance for everyone scheduled on the audit (including Managers and Partners) to sit down and analyze the audit plan from a business strategy and risk standpoint. If you pay attention and ask questions, you can learn a lot during these meetings.
  • Finish a workpaper from last week’s audit. All audit work is stored in something called a “binder” in our software. These binders are a collection of workpapers. As an Associate, you will be assigned several workpapers to complete for the audit.
  • Clear ‘points’. What’s a point? A point is a note left on a workpaper (usually by your manager) indicating that something needs to be corrected. Clearing points is often one of the easier tasks you have, and you learn a lot from fixing your own mistakes.
  • Send out confirmations. Although we are nearly paperless, occasionally some documents need to be sent by snail mail. For example, a letter to a creditor confirming a client’s loan balance. Associates are the lucky ones who get to mail these off.
  • Prepare for next week’s auditDo some research online – find out who your client is and how their business works. Check our software to see if we received any documentation from the client. If not, ask the Senior on that job if there is anything you can do. They may give you something, or they may not. If not, see next step.
  • Send out an ‘availability email’.If you are all caught up on your work from last week and there is nothing to do to prepare for the coming audit, send an email to the Associates, Seniors, and Managers, and ask if they have any work for you. **Clue** they usually DO. You might be asked to prepare a board presentation, draft an engagement letter, do some audit planning, or conduct industry analysis.

At the Client (about 80% of your time): It’s Monday, the first day of the audit at a client’s office. This audit is scheduled to last 1 week. Seattle morale is low – the Seahawks lost last Thursday and Richard Sherman was injured.

  • Cheer up the client. They are probably bummed about Sherman getting injured, so you will have your work cut out for you, but saying “Hi” and chatting for a bit is a great way to start the week.
  • Set up. We have these neat portable screens that pair with our laptops and if we’re feeling super hi-tech, we’ll bring a mobile WiFi. Chat for a moment with the Senior, Manager, and whoever else is out at the client, then get started on your work. You might be set up in a swanky skyscraper office, or you might be in a glorified closet – we PS’ers take what we can get.
  • Tackle your assigned sections. We generally hit the hardest sections first, so that we can resolve any complex issues early in the audit. For an Associate, this section might be “Debt” – auditing a client’s notes payable. After you finished Debt, you might turn your attention to a simpler section such as “Cash”.
  • Go to talk to the client (again). By this time, you have gathered an ample list of questions to ask the client. By the way, who is the ‘client’? The primary contact with the client is usually a Bookkeeper, Accounting Manager, or Controller/CFO. Some questions can be relayed electronically, but some things are better discussed face-to-face.  Less confusing that way, trust me.
  • Ask the Senior some questions. One thing that PS does well is “collaborative review” – a fancy term for talking face-to-face. It is very convenient to have your Senior and Manager out at the client with you – you can ask them questions whenever you get stuck. They are usually very helpful and it’s the best way to learn.
  • Give a status report. Public accounting is somewhat unique – as an entry-level Associate, you are your own boss. Sure, you have Managers on each job, but YOU are responsible for managing your various projects and keeping track of deliverables. Before heading home, give the Senior a status update on your projects so they can accurately monitor the overall job status and keep the audit on schedule.

After Hours!

  • Go to happy hour with your co-workers.
  • Play on a firm sports team! We have basketball, volleyball, softball, kickball, and soccer.
  • Firm recruiting events (we like to watch the Mariners and eat good food while wooing high quality candidates, such as yourself).
  • Study for CPA exams – sad, but true. It doesn’t feel quite as terrible when all the Associates in the office are going through the same thing.
  • Coaching program activities – one of the coolest parts of PS is how much time and energy the senior staff/management invest in the junior staff. It’s clear that they want you to succeed, and there are incredible opportunities for growth and mentorship.

As you enter public accounting, you can expect an incredibly steep learning curve! To support our associate staff level during this transition into their new careers, we offer Coaching and Buddy programs. Each associate is assigned a Buddy and selects a career Coach after onboarding is complete.

Your Buddy will assist you with day-to-day questions, such as how to input time and where to find supplies. This person is also a great resource for meeting people in the office and finding your way around.

Your Coach will be a manager, senior manager, or principal-level accountant who has volunteered to champion your acclimation and success in the firm. During the first week, and then at least quarterly, your Coach will meet with you to discuss your professional goals and any areas of opportunity.

We believe that an important part of enjoying work is getting to know your co-workers. We encourage participation in some or all of the activities we sponsor, such as: accounting league softball, flag football, volleyball, kickball, soccer, dodgeball, and miniature golf.

We also encourage employees to attend networking, professional, and recruiting events. We have annual Holiday and End-of-Tax-Season parties, an annual All-Firm Retreat, “First Friday/4:01” events, and much more to make sure everyone has some fun and gets to know each other.


Peterson Sullivan Reviews

4.1
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Chris Russell
14 Ratings
  • "Great Place to Work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Peterson Sullivan full-time

    Pros

    Salary and schedule flexibility are great

    Cons

    Difficult to get responsibility for client relationships from older partners

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Peterson Sullivan Photos

Peterson Sullivan photo of: Jordan Cooper attended the QuickBooks Connect conference this week in CA! Baby Cooper also got to visit with Mom - an added benefit to the firm's flexible approach to balancing work and family!
Peterson Sullivan photo of: PS’ers took a break from work to check out the Sheraton Seattle’s 25th Annual Gingerbread Village!
Peterson Sullivan photo of: Life Isn't About Finding Yourself. Life Is About Creating Yourself. Yesterday our group of talented seniors hosted their first annual Leadership Retreat!
Peterson Sullivan photo of: Thank you Wellspring Family Services and Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club for allowing us to be a part of the Shoe Carnival!
Peterson Sullivan photo of: Thank you Wellspring Family Services and Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club for allowing us to be a part of the Shoe Carnival!
Peterson Sullivan photo of: PS teamed up with Pasado’s Safe Haven for Seattle Works Day 2017! Pasado’s is an animal sanctuary in Monroe and our group assisted with a number of projects around the farm.
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Peterson Sullivan Interviews

Experience

Experience
100%
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0%

Getting an Interview

Getting an Interview
67%
33%

Difficulty

3.0
Average

Difficulty

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Average
Easy
  1.  

    Audit Associate Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Seattle, WA
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 4+ weeks. I interviewed at Peterson Sullivan (Seattle, WA) in November 2016.

    Interview

    The first interview was conducted over the phone. I spoke with an audit manager and an HR manager. About a week later I got invited to attend their Call Back Day. Call Back Day consisted of interviewing with 3 different people, as well as going out to lunch with 2 associates and a few other interviewees. Interviews were mostly conversational, some behavioral questions, only two very easy technical questions. After the interviews, we had time to socialize with everyone in the office.

    Interview Questions

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Peterson Sullivan Awards & Accolades

  • Washington's Best Workplaces, Puget Sound Business Journal, 2017
  • Best Accounting Firms to Work for, Accounting Today, 2017
  • Top 200 Accounting Firms, Inside Public Accounting, 2017
  • Washington's Best Workplaces Finalist, Puget Sound Business Journal, 2016
  • IPA Top 200 Firms, Inside Public Accounting, 2016
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