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Whitley Penn

Vault’s Verdict

Whitley Penn is ideally looking for positive, driven, hardworking candidates who are eager to learn and work towards their CPAs. Strong interpersonal skills and a solid academic record are also desired. For students, the firm runs a valuable internship program. Interns are treated like first-year staff, get hands-on experience, and exposure to a variety of areas. The firm’s career development opportunities for its full-time staff are extensive. Informal training is said to be excellent, as senior staff are willing to teach, help, and answer questions. Promotion opportunities receive very good reviews. And formal training is continually improving.

Although hours can be long during the busy season (like at most public accounting firms), a healthy work/life balance can be achieved outside the busy season. The firm’s generous PTO policy and supportive culture do a lot to help employees achieve that balance, and there is a general understanding of outside commitments, even during busy season. Compensation, benefits, and perks are competitive and on par with other firms of Whitley Penn’s size. The firm’s wellness program called FitWhit offers financial, physical, and mental health resources, and additional wellness offerings include an employee assistance program (EAP) and gym discounts.

With respect to DEI, the firm is more diverse at the lower levels than at the higher levels, and more diverse when it comes to women than racial and ethnic minorities. As for Whitley Penn’s business outlook, it is bright. The firm has been growing both organically and through acquisitions and is well positioned to continue to leverage its niche as a firm with Big 4 capabilities without a Big 4 price tag.


Hiring Process

“The ideal candidate is eager to learn and has the ability to sit for the CPA exam. The interview and callback process happens quickly and allows you to feel comfortable with where you are in the process.”

“Driven, hardworking individuals will not have a hard time having a career here.”

“The ideal candidate is hardworking, working towards or has their CPA, has a bachelor’s degree, and will complement the firm.”

“Our firm only accepts applicants who have a good attitude, are willing to work hard and do their best, and aren’t afraid to speak to people (like our clients). They also look at your resume and your GPA in college.”

Interview Questions

“Tell me about an experience where you had to communicate in a difficult conversation with someone else. Tell me about how you work in a group. What do you hope to do and to learn in your first year here?”

“What area of the firm are you interested in? What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?”

“Tell us about a time you failed and what you learned. What is your management style? Our interviews are very conversational and less of a grill session.”

“What motivated you to go into accounting? Do you plan on sitting for the CPA? Do you plan on seeing yourself at this firm for the long haul and helping the firm grow?”

“They will ask you about yourself and how well you work in a team environment. They will ask about school (especially for interns). They will also ask about your work ethic and expectations. All of the usual stuff.”

Internship Experience

“My internship was great. I was treated like a full-time staff member. The projects and tasks assigned were similar to the projects I received when I came back as a full-time staff. So, I knew what my job was going to be like when I did come back.”

“I had real cases and did meaningful work. Whitley Penn provided an immersive internship experience, allowing us to experience what a spring busy season experience is truly like. Our work was equivalent to that of a first-year associate.”

“As an intern, I was treated kindly and with respect. Everyone made me feel comfortable and like part of the team. There were many opportunities for me to get to know everybody, with happy hours and from working on different clients with different teams. I also enjoyed getting to work on different areas in the audit binder. I worked on cash, AP, PP&E, etc.”

“Best experience was being able to go to client sites and see first-hand how the senior associates and managers discussed with the client on what was needed and how their accounting practices were executed. One negative experience was waiting for intern-level work on certain jobs.”

Career Development

“Everybody has the opportunity to define their career in the area of their choosing. If the firm doesn’t have it, you can spread your wings and be part of building it. Internal CPE is good and continues to get better, but it can still get better.”

“While we have improved our formal training significantly, and peer/mentor support is good, we still find that someone who is willing to engage in independent self-study is most satisfied and develops faster in our environment.”

“As long as you work hard, take opportunities to learn, and apply yourself, career development should come naturally. Rates of progression are on par with other firms, and depending on circumstance, it can feel like you are fast-tracking to partner. Many of those at the upper levels are happy to help as well, both in the field of work you do and as you grow in your position. However, the firm is relatively young, and not as uniform as it could be. Upper levels are very helpful, but when they’re busy and there isn’t a formal approach to things, newer employees can sometimes feel lost.”

“Due to the size of our firm and our consistent growth rate, there is so much opportunity for growth. We have a much more hands-on approach, and since we are a smaller firm, you’re able to experience the entire audit from an entry level. I spent some time at a larger multinational accounting firm, and the work experience I have from Whitley Penn is much more than I would have gotten at a Big 4 firm.”

Quality of Life

“The best aspect is the ability to have a flexible schedule that allows attending almost anything you need to do with family. The worst aspect is simply the peak and valley of tax season work, but I think most tax accountants prefer that in moderation.”

“The best part is unlimited PTO during slower season and work from home most Fridays. Very flexible work hours to accommodate for things outside of work. The worst part is busy season, in which we are not allowed PTO since we are so busy and must be in the office every day. Long hours during this season make for very little time for other things. But they definitely make up for it during the slower season!”

“There is unlimited PTO, which is absolutely used by many employees, and management urges people to use vacation and personal time, especially after a busy period. Management is generally understanding of work-from-home implications and working to balance effectively. Busy seasons are hard, but that’s just public accounting. There is definitely less of a workload than with bigger firms, but it’s still tough nonetheless.”

“Whitley Penn has a great culture in place. Firm get-togethers are frequent, and they place an emphasis on work/life balance for their employees. Additionally, the time away policy allows us to easily use ample vacation time outside of busy seasons.”

Salary and Benefits

“Salary is comparable with other public accounting firms. Bonuses can fluctuate based on many factors—last year, bonuses were very good, and this year, they were a little more modest. Bonuses and raises are essentially guaranteed if you continue to perform well.”

“Overall compensation is good for a mid to upper-level employee. Pay is on par with similar-sized firms but still behind the larger firms. So, if we could get close to them, that would be great. The firm does also have many other perks that aren’t reflected in base pay, which are good. Health insurance benefits are provided. However, the carrier is subpar. There is no 401(k) match, or child-care, which would be nice.”

“The firm’s bonus structure seems very well structured and is a good percentage of total compensation. The base salary does seem a bit low compared to market and our size. The profit sharing and the 401(k) are nice too. The healthcare is covered 100 percent for the employee, but the family portion is not and is a bit pricy. I pay around $1,000 a month for health, dental, and vision for my wife and two sons.”

“Firm provides very competitive compensation packages and benefits. Unlimited PTO and free garage parking are highlights.”

Wellness Efforts

“We have a fitness program called FitWhit that encourages health and wellness for all firm members. They send out monthly fitness plans, offer gym discounts, and have educational talks.”

“The firm allows you to get reimbursed for an app called Calm that helps with meditation and mental wellness. The firm also has a deal with Orange Theory for an employee membership discount.”

“We have a dedicated internal wellness group. Discounts at gyms, standing desks, and healthy snacks provided. Wellness rooms for nursing mothers.”

“There are frequent in-office competitions to promote wellness. Healthy snacks and drinks are provided by the firm. Discounts for health clubs and activities are available.”

Diversity, Philanthropy, and Green Initiatives

“There are several women in partner roles and programs in place for women’s leadership. There are no visible programs for race and ethnicity or LGBTQ+ and not a lot of diversity in firm management. There are philanthropic programs undertaken by the firm. Not a lot of focus is placed on green/environmental.”

“We have diversity within the firm but not a lot of diversity at the very top of leadership. There are no women on the leadership board. There are ebbs and flows but sometimes as a woman you can feel like you’re in a boy’s club.”

“The firm makes efforts to have diverse leadership regarding female leadership but needs to work harder to increase overall diversity in the leadership to include people of color. The firm has begun to work to increase overall diversity throughout the firm regarding ethnicity, which will hopefully translate to more diversity in leadership as time goes by. The firm does not as a whole promote philanthropy. The partners support specific charities that are meaningful to themselves and enlist the contributions of time, talent, and treasure to those specific charities without direct contributions from the firm.”

“As a veteran, I am treated like a professional just like everyone else. We are well taken care of at Whitley Penn. Also, we get a day off to volunteer on whatever we find important.”

Business Outlook

“We are perfectly positioned to capitalize on growth and opportunity in Texas, which continues to be one of the most attractive business environments in the country. In addition, we have always been in a strong position to offer an alternative to clients seeking a relationship with a firm that has Big 4 capabilities without a Big 4 price tag.”

“The firm is growing very fast and is on track to keep that pace, both organically and through external growth. Though growing well, the firm is still small enough to not be able to get their foot in the door with more prestigious clientele.”

“We are a growth-minded firm and that has been tremendously helpful, as people have the opportunity to advance at a young age. However, communication can be tough—transparency feels restricted to certain groups in the firm.”

“Business is growing year after year, and business development is very important to the firm. Everyone is doing their best to network. Keeping current clients satisfied with our work is important to the firm. With this, we retain clients year after year and get many clients referred to us.”

Whitley Penn

640 Taylor Street
Suite 2200
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Phone: (817) 259-9100

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private Partnership
Managing Partner and CEO: Larry Autrey
2024 Employees (All Locations): 765

Major Office Locations

Fort Worth, TX
Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
Austin, TX
San Antonio, TX

Major Departments & Practices