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Peterson Sullivan Overview

Seattle, WA
51 to 200 employees
1953
Private Practice / Firm
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

  • January marks the first anniversary of the passing of our Partner, Sharlyn Turner. As we reflect on her life and extraordinary contributions to the firm, we are proud to announce the launch of the Peterson Sullivan Leadership Scholarship program in memory of Sharlyn.

    To apply, please visit: http://glassdoor.com/slink.htm?key=vQoHX

  • Congratulations to Chris Walker and Nick Norton, who have been acknowledged as premier professionals in the industry, and have become Partners at Peterson Sullivan!

    http://glassdoor.com/slink.htm?key=vQb5D

    A Growing Trend: Accounting Firm Welcomes First Non-Compliance Partners - Peterson Sullivan Accounting

    SEATTLE, Wash. - Peterson Sullivan, a Puget Sound Top 7 accounting firm, announced today the addition of two new partners: Nicholas Norton CISA, MPAc and Chris Walker. The promotion of these two partners highlights the growing trend of non-CPA partners joining the ranks of what was previously considered a traditional group of compliance partners.

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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 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.

Day in the Life of a Tax Associate with Dalton Russell

A variety of tasks can fill up a normal day at PS:

  • Prepare individual, partnership, s-corp, corporate, trust, gift, and estate tax returns
  • Update fixed asset schedules and create depreciation reports
  • Prepare Form 3115’s (Change in Accounting Method)
  • Prepare Form 2848’s (Power of Attorney)
  • Write letters to the IRS for clients
  • Research unique tax issues affecting clients
  • Conduct fieldwork at auto dealership clients
  • Attend relevant CPE training courses

Every Tax Associate’s day looks a little different, but below is what my schedule looks like on a typical day:

7:00am – 8:00am

  • Get to the office
  • Grab breakfast from one of the kitchens (fruit, oatmeal, cereal, or granola bars)
  • Catch up with coworkers
  • Read through emails for any firm updates, tax updates, or updates on current assignments
  • Reach out to the Resource Manager or Tax Managers for more work if workload is low

8:00am – 11:30am

  • Start preparing tax returns by organizing workpapers provided by client and entering applicable information into the tax software
  • Create a list of questions throughout preparing the return
  • Once at a stopping point in the return, reach out to the AIC (Accountant in Charge) with questions.
  • If no questions (unlikely), then print a draft of the return and send to review
  • Keep AICs up to date on the progress of assignments

11:30am – 12:30pm

  • Eat lunch with coworkers, either at a spot downtown or in the office lunchroom

12:30pm – 3:30pm (Busy Season: 12:30pm – 4:30pm/5:30pm)

  • Check for any updates on current projects
  • Either continue working on a return, updating a return with new information, or starting a new one
  • Go through any review points received on current assignments and asking for guidance on unfamiliar points
  • Update return with review points, create a second draft, conduct a thorough self-review and send back for second review

3:30pm – 4:00 pm (Busy Season: 4:30pm/5:30pm – 5:00pm/6:00pm)

  • Wrap up any remaining work or get to a good stopping point
  • Check on remaining projects and create a priority list for the next day
  • Enter daily time broken out between billable and nonbillable hours
  • Go home

Other PS-Related Activities

  • Study for CPA exam whenever possible
  • Hangout with coworkers at happy hours (both in-house and out of office)
  • Attend work-sponsored events, such as WSCPA or AICPA networking events
  • Participate in campus recruiting events at one of PS’ partner campuses
  • Play on one of the many PS sports teams (softball is a personal favorite!)

This is only a quick snapshot of my normal day, but there is so much more to being Tax Associate at PS! If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to me at drussell@pscpa.com

A Day in the Life of an Audit Associate with Lutza Petrin 


In the Office (about 50% of your time)

As an Audit Associate you will be in the office about 50% of the time. When you are in the office, you will be working on a large variety of tasks, both big and small:

  • Attend a planning meeting. The planning meeting usually happens about 1-2 months before fieldwork. 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. As an Associate, the planning meeting is a great opportunity for you to get a more in-depth understanding of our clients and audit processes.
  • 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.
  • Catch up with coworkers. As cheesy as it sounds, most (probably all) of us believe that the best thing about PS are the people! I always look forward to being able to spend some time with my awesome coworkers, whether that means just talking between the cubes, or grabbing coffee or lunch.
  • Attend trainings: PS offers a large variety of in-house trainings throughout the year that allow us to continuously improve as professionals and earn the CPE hours needed for our (future) CPA licenses. My personal favorite class is “Communicating in Color”, where we learn about the personalities of the people at our firm, and how those influence how we interact with each other in the work environment.
  • 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. If we’re lucky, sometimes we get enough information back from our clients to get a jump-start on next week’s audit!
  • See how you can lend a helping hand.If you are all caught up on your work from last week and there is nothing to do to prepare for the coming audit, stop by some Managers’ and Seniors’ desks to see if there is anything they could use some help with. You also can send an email to the Associates, Seniors, and Managers, and ask if they have any work for you. **Clue** they usually DO, and are very thankful for your willingness to help out and learn something new. 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 50% of your time):

As an Audit Associate you will be out at a client’s office about 50% of the time. As a mid-sized firm, most of our audits are scheduled to last about 1 week. One of my favorite things about working as an auditor is that every week brings something completely new, and provides the opportunity to see how a different business operates from the inside.

  • Get to know your client. Saying “Hi” and chatting for a bit is a great way to start the week. At PS, we are lucky enough to work with a lot of really interesting and inspiring clients! You will typically stay on the same jobs from year-to-year, so getting to know the people that you will be working with annually is a great idea. It will also make the job more enjoyable for everyone involved.
  • Set up. We have these neat portable screens that pair with our laptops – 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 with you, 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.  It can be a lot less confusing that way, for both you and the client – trust me.
  • Ask the Manager or 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. There is so much to learn about auditing, and our experienced staff are a great resource.
  • 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 and Manager 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 soccer, beach volleyball, kickball, and THREE whole softball teams. We take our softball very seriously….or rather just seriously enough. 🙂
  • Assist with firm recruiting events, such as presenting at an on-campus Beta Alpha Psi meeting or attending our annual Summer Leadership event where we get to know high quality candidates (such as yourself) over a Mariners game and some yummy food.
  • Attend a firm-sponsored event, like our annual golf tournament, holiday party, or monthly firm happy hour!
  • 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.

There are so many reasons to love being a part of the team at Peterson Sullivan. If you are at all curious about learning more, please reach out to me at lpetrin@pscpa.com.

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

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Chris Russell
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  • Featured Review

    "Great firm to work for!"

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    • 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 (More than a year)

    Pros

    Our people and our culture of collaboration. Everyone's willing to help everyone else. Also, the firm's "work anytime, anywhere" policy.

    Cons

    Hours can be long, but that's the nature of public accounting.

    Advice to Management

    When employees offer suggestions, be sure to really listen and consider them. Your people are the greatest asset to this firm.

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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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Getting an Interview

Getting an Interview
67%
33%

Difficulty

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Average

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  1.  

    Audit Interview

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

    Application

    I applied through college or university. I interviewed at Peterson Sullivan (Seattle, WA).

    Interview

    Their interview process was pretty standard. I completed my first round of interviews on campus then went to their office for second rounds. I met with 2 partners, a Senior Manager, and 2 staff associates took me out to coffee, and an additional 2 took me out to lunch. Everyone that I met was really nice. Most of the interviews were pretty conversational.

    Interview Questions

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Peterson Sullivan Awards & Accolades

  • Washington's Best Workplaces, Puget Sound Business Journal, 2018
  • Best Accounting Firms to Work For, Accounting Today, 2018
  • Top 200 Accounting Firms, Inside Public Accounting, 2018
  • Business of the Year, WSCPA, 2014
  • Top 200 Accounting Firms, Inside Public Accounting, 2017
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