Friday, December 29, 2006

...and to All a Good Night

It doesn't seem right to just end the year without saying something, well... you know. So, Happy New Year, everyone. Have wonderful weekends and safe travels, and I'll see you back here Tuesday.

Accounting Firm Mergers

An article on AccountingWEB says Sarbanes-Oxley is spurring a merger of accounting firms. The increasing workload is pushing smaller firms to merge as a way to bulk up their staffs, and thus their capabilities.

“Local and regional firms are getting more opportunities than they probably ever could have dreamed of. Big Four resources are stretched to the max, so smaller clients are either leaving the Big Four on their own or the Big Four are resigning engagement, because they don’t have the resources to serve them without charging higher prices. For the local firms picking this up, it’s right in their strike zone. We’re seeing it from coast to coast,” Jonathan Hamilton told AccountingWEB. Hamilton is the editor of the accounting newsletter Public Accounting Report.

You've seen this all before, but it's a good snapshot of a trend that keeps on going.

California Accounting Firms Merge [AccountingWEB]

More on Women Leaders

The Baltimore firm KAWG&F (Katz Abosch Windesheim Gershman & Friedman) is profiled in the Baltimore Examiner for the unusually large proportion of women on its staff. The firm's certainly doing better than the Big Four: Of 104 employees, 73 are female, as are 10 of the firm's 26 shareholders. This is a quick, interesting article.

Local accounting firm breaks its own glass ceiling [Baltimore Examiner]

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lessons of the Rich and Famous

Sometimes you just have to leave your desk and go talk to your boss - or make a presentation to a client - or even (Lord help you) talk to the media. So, what happens if somehow you put your foot in touch mouth? In today's Wall Street Journal, Jeff Zaslow talks about ways to dig yourself out of whatever hole you happen to have landed in. Turns out you really can learn from the likes of Mel Gibson, Donald Rumsfeld and Judith Regan.

Fox TV executives and book publisher Judith Regan thought America would see nothing wrong with their O.J. project.

"All of us have audiences -- our bosses, colleagues, students, families, vendors, in-laws," says Mr. Levick. "You can't violate the trust with your audience." As Ms. Friedman asks: "Who is that family member, friend, co-worker? What will they put up with? What will offend each of them?"

If you misread the temperature of your "audience," you must apologize, even if you're late doing so. Crisis managers mention Oprah Winfrey. At first, she defended Mr. Frey after news broke that he'd fabricated parts of his book. After her initial efforts offended her audience, she admitted she had made a mistake.

Mistakes Were Made: What to Take Away From the High-Profile Blunders of 2006 [WSJ - $]

Deloitte Leads in Percentage of Women Executives

Deloitte & Touche has a greater percentage of women partners, principals and directors than its Big Four competitors - 19.3 percent, compared to 16.8 percent at KPMG, 15.8 percent at PricewaterhouseCoopers and 13.5 percent at Ernst & Young - according to a survey by Public Accounting Report. The firm has led the Big Four every since the survey was begun in 1997.

I suppose its progress, but it's still less than 20 percent.

Deloitte Leads Big Four Accounting Firms in Percentage of Women Partners, Principals and Directors [Deloitte]

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Trials of The Tax Executive

It's not new for tax executives to feel underappreciated. Few people get into the down-and-dirty details of a company's numbers like they do, but they get pigeonholed in the eyes of corporate leadership. Worry about the effective tax rate and leave the rest to us, and all that. Never mind that, say, SALT expertise can lead to all sorts of savings if it's used to help locate stores in areas where tax credits apply. And that's just one example.

Hudson Financial Solutions and CFO Research Services have published Building a Better Tax Function, which recommends a better-defined relationship - and closer collaboration - between finance and tax. It suggests companies hire tax professionals with more broad-based experience. As James Peter Rubin writes this morning on

(...these are) the kind of people who have the experience and skills necessary to participate in business planning. "Recruiting and fostering tax personnel with sophisticated tax technical skills - and a broad perspective on business issues - is high on the tax function agenda, according to those we interviewed," the report says.

It makes sense that people who can put their tax work into the broader context of the business would be seen as more valuable. It's also another reason that tax professionals need good communications skills: to know how to write, to speak, to present ideas.

Broad View Helps Tax Executives [JITM]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tomorrow Fer Sure

So, I've fallen into the blown-it-with-the-best-of-intentions category. Here I was, coming back into the office after the long weekend, intent on posting today and... I didn't. I can't even say I was snowed with e-mails, though I did spend much of the day wrestling with an e-mail broadcast - and lost.

Anyway, I'll be back again tomorrow with posts. Retailers, I notice from this afternoon's Wall Street Journal Online, are cutting prices some more to try and get one last surge of revenue in between Christmas and the end of the year. Best I keep out of the stores unless I lost my contest of willpower with whichever flat-screen TV is out there, waiting for me to bring it home...

I hope everyone had a good holiday.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Rising Along With Others

It's one of those uncomfortable realities of work that not all of us our superstars. (I know: How cheerful and holiday-spirited of me to point that out today.) But I don't mean that as a slam on anyone - including me, a 20-year writer who has yet to win a Pulitzer. I mean that in any company there are talented professionals who do good work, and also a smaller number of people who writer Emma Johnson describes as being the ones named as team leaders, picked for plumb projects and hanging out in the vice president's office. When the circumstances are right, these can be good folks to ally yourself with. On, Emma examines how to go about this:

In an ideal world, professionals can attach themselves to flourishing peers, learn from their strengths, contribute to their successful projects, and develop relationships with those who might one day be able to help them get ahead.

However, don't get the idea you can simply ride somebody else's coattails. It makes no sense to "just coast to success based on the success of another," says Doug Rickart, a division director for Robert Half Finance and Accounting in Minneapolis. "It becomes quite obvious you're spending time with someone just to get yourself noticed. That's meaningless."

Meanwhile, over at CareerJournal is a piece by Kayleen Schaefer on handling peers who are trying dump their work on you. (Another uncomfortable reality is that a lot of people who think they are superstars, aren't.).

When your peer asks if you will do his work, he is in charge of the situation and setting the agenda. And as soon as you answer the question, you lose. If you say yes, you're stuck with your peer's work. If you say no, you feel bad. The key is to pose your own question: Why are you asking me to do your work?

How to Catch a Rising Star - and Not Get Burned [JITM]
Stopping a Bossy Peer From Dumping on You [WSJ via CareerJournal]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

PWC Returns to Nashville

PricewaterhouseCoopers is restablishing its presence in Nashville to focus on the region's health care companies. The Tennessean says:
By February, PricewaterhouseCoopers plans to set up shop in space in the Brentwood-Cool Springs area to house a local staff of about 20 people, Sheidy said.

That includes people transferring from other locations, new hires and some staff who continued to work from their Nashville-area homes after the firm closed its office here in 2001.

Earlier this week, Chicago-based BDO Seidman announced plans to set up shop in the city.

PricewaterhouseCoopers to return to Nashville area [The Tennessean]

Finding the Hiring Manager

Job candidates complain a lot about the wall that's often erected between them and a company's hiring manager. If you're responding to a blind ad - where the manager's identity, and maybe even the company's identity, is hidden - how can you get in touch with the actual right person? The key is to use as many identifying details as you can find in the ad as clues, to figure out the company doing the hiring. Once you've done that, you may have to reach out to your extended network to determine who is responsible for screening job applicants - or making the final hiring decision. Myra Thomas gives some pointers on

Finding the Manager Behind the Ad [JITM]

More Online Education in California

Next year, the California CPA Education Foundation plans to triple the number of webcasts it hosts for those seeking to renew their state credentials. James Rubin's piece on details their coverage, but points out that you shouldn't always stick too closely to your desktop. He cites Robert Half's Susan Afan as saying conferences and other live events have advantages: "When you go to a conference or similar event, it gives you the opportunity to network," she told him.

More Online Options for California CPA Credits [JITM]

Blatant Self-Promotion #1 has been ranked the #3 niche job site by (yes, there really is a site that ranks employment Web sites, and people like me read them.) The #2 site is our companion, eFinancialCareers, and the niche leader is, an IT site published by our new parent company. The full listings are here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BDO Seidman Moves Into Nashville

Chicago-based BDO Seidman is opening an office in Nashville, its second in Tennessee and one of more than 30 around the U.S., in addition to alliance offices. The Nashville Business Journal says the firm has leased 7,000 square feet of office space downtown. The firm said "the time is right" to establish a presence in the city.

Michael Musick, a partner in the firm, will be the practice leader, according to the Nashville City Paper. The downtown office will open next month.

BDO Seidman announces entry into Nashville [Nashville Business Journal]
National accounting firm to open Nashville location [Nashville City Paper]

Wake Forest Rocks (the Exam)

Wake Forest University says the performance of its accounting graduates ranks first in the 2005 CPA exam, according to the most recent scores from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. It's the holidays. Let's allow them a little hype. Here's a press release.

Wake Forest accounting graduates rank first in nation on CPA exam [WFU]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No Response to Your Application? A Reality Check

Over on, Bob Rosner has a slightly cynical review of why you may be getting interviews, but no job offers. (Should I be surprised his take is a tad tough? The name of his column is "Working Wounded" after all.) Well, I've always been once of those sensitive guys, so maybe I just picked up on his tough, clear-eyed, and completely accurate observations.

Rosner's column is a good reality check. The job you've applied for may have been filled, an unscrupulous headhunter may be using fake job ads to build his resume database, or the company you've applied to may just be disorganized or rude. Take two minutes to read this.

Working Wounded: Why Can't You Get Hired? []

Speaking of Reality

This being a blog and all, I'd love to get any tips, story ideas, rumors, comments, criticisms (be gentle) or what have you. Post your comments to any story, or send an e-mail to mfeffer at

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sign of the Times

The tighter the job market, the more companies want to stay on good terms with their former employees. The Associated Press ran a piece on this today:

Departed employees are courted with official employee alumni networks that offer electronic directories of former colleagues, job listings, continuing education, even discounted group insurance. Microsoft's alumni group rented the entire Seattle Aquarium for its after-the-holidays party last year. Accenture toasted its alumni with drinks and appetizers at New York's Museum of Natural History.

Alumni from Big Four firms gather online and off, I'm told by, among other people, a former Peat Marwick CPA who gets testy when he's not treated "right" by folks at successor firm KPMG.

Companies court former employees [AP via N.Y. Daily News]

Friday, December 15, 2006

Answers on Massachusetts Exam Eligibility

Beginning in January, CPA candidates in Massachusetts will be able to sit for the CPA exam after completing 120 hours of college-level education, instead of the 150 hours that has been required to this point. The Massachusetts Society of CPAs is quite pleased with the change, which it hopes will encourage more prospective accountants to enter the field. (Yes, you still have to complete a total of 150 hours of course work to practice, but you can at least get the exams done first.)

The MSCPA has posted a series of FAQs about the change, and certification in general, on its Web site. Also, for some background on jobs in the Boston area, see the article we published in November.

CPA Exam Regulation FAQs [MSCPA]
Experience in Demand for Boston CPAs [JITM]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Accounting Fraud Doesn't Pay

Former Enron chief executive and novice federal convict Jeffrey Skilling has a lot of time now to ponder what happens when what goes around comes around. Of all the press coverage yesterday about Skilling's reporting to jail, the tidbit I like best is this:

Inmates at the prison have access to exercise facilities including a basketball court, running track and a pingpong table. Like most inmates, Skilling is likely to be required to work in prison labor jobs such as food service, plumbing and painting, where he would earn 12 to 40 cents an hour.

That's a far cry from what Skilling earned at the helm of Enron -- more than $151.7 million from 1999 to 2001, the time span of the indictment.

So not only are multiple felonies bad for your career, they wreak havoc on your compensation too. One can only wonder what all the old Andersen hands have to say - and if you are one, please feel free to comment.

Ex-Enron CEO Skilling Reports to Prison [AP via Chicago Tribune]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Reznick Group To Open Los Angeles Office

Scott Farb, CPA, has joined Reznick Group and will lead the firm's expansion into Los Angeles as a managing principal. He'll also be responsible for growing the firm's commercial real estate practice. He'll hire between 20 and 25 new employees from the L.A. area initially, then grow the office "in the coming years." The office is in Century City, at 1888 Century Park East, Suite 1625, Los Angeles CA 90067.

Previously, Farb was principal in charge of Gumbiner Savett Inc.'s national real estate group. Before that he headed the national real estate practice at Rothstein Kass, and was a senior partner at Kenneth Leventhal & Company (and was partner in charge of its entrepreneurial services group before the firm's 1995 merger with Ernst & Young). He received his bachelor's degree from Hofstra University, is a member of the Urban Land Institute and serves on the board of the Southern California chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP).

Coincidentally, we posted a story on the employment landscape for CPAs in California last week. It's here.

Reznick Group Announces Its Expansion Into Los Angeles; Scott Farb, CPA Joins Firm [Reznick Group]
Accounting, Finance Professionals Sought in California [JITM]

Feeling Good - 117.2 Good

Could it be all the talk about wars for talent and too many jobs chasing too few candidates is making accountants and financial pros feel good? The Hudson Employment Index for accounting and finance professionals - which measures worker confidence in the employment market - spiked in November to a high for the year - 117.2, 10 points up from October. The survey also found 77 percent of accounting and finance workers are happy at their jobs, up from 72 percent in October.

A red flag, though: While 58 percent had a favorable view of their finances in November, the percentage reporting their finances were getting worse rose from 34 to 37 percent.

The index results from a survey of 9,000 U.S. workers conducted by the recruiting and staffing firm Hudson, a division of the Hudson Highland Group. It's one of those measures that can be a useful indicators of how people in the real world view employment trends. If you like numbers, dig in here.

Worker Confidence Increased Significantly in November [Hudson Employment Index]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What is Balance Anyway?

I'm not sure, but I'm wondering whether the pendulum is going to swing soon in discussions about work-life balance. The notion of improving balance is a cornerstone of recruiting in many accounting firms - at least the larger ones. Many smaller firms seem to regard it as one of those issues big concerns can afford to worry about while they make sure the bills get paid. The Wall Street Journal's Jared Sandberg points out that former GE chief Jack Welch wrote in his book Winning that "the work-life policies in the company brochure are mainly for recruiting purposes… People who publicly struggle with work-life balance problems...get pigeonholed as ambivalent, entitled, uncommitted or incompetent - or all of the above."

Sandberg writes about work-life balance in today's Cubicle Culture column in the Journal. He says that today, cell phones, BlackBerries and the like haven't so much extended the work day so much as they stirred work and home life into "a stew that often satisfies neither quarter." He then goes on to say that (a) the notion of completely separate work and home lives is a product of the 1950s and 60s, (b) people spend less of their life working now than they have in the past and (c) for many people work-life balance is really about blending work and home life through the course of the day. One financial consultant:

...sees farmers working long hours in the same way her great-grandparents did; they milked cows at 5 a.m. and fixed tools after supper. "They didn't see it as a work-home balance, it was just all the stuff you did," she says. "With technology, we have to relearn those skills that our great-grandparents already had."

One of the folks commenting on the story had this to say:

Pager, take home laptops, cell phones and the rest are oddly comforting. Before that all came along I used to login at all times of the day and night to make sure systems were up and tasks were getting completed. Now I login only when the pager or my boss goes off.

Good story, with a lot of food for thought.

Back to the Future:Mixing Work, HomeIs a Very Old Dilemma [WSJ - $]

The Essay You've Always Wanted to Write

Journyx - which provides time-tracking and project accounting products - will award a $500 scholarship to the U.S. graduate student who writes the best essay on… time tracking.

Interested students should contribute an essay of 1,000 words or less on one of the following two topics:

* Persuade someone who doesn't want to track his time on a per-product per-activity basis why it is in his best interests to do so.

* Describe a real situation that you've encountered where project oriented time tracking has made a positive difference in the world.

Don’t be intimidated. You've got until June 1, 2007 to come up with your entry. Details are here.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Last Week's Poll: The Disconnect

More than 60 percent of's users apply for jobs they're either over or underqualified for, according to the poll we ran last week. Only 38.8 percent said they apply for jobs that are a good fit. To drill down, about 21 percent said they apply for positions they're overqualified for. What really got my attention was this: 40.3 percent apply for jobs they know they're not a match for - they figure they can learn the job after they've been hired.

Well. I wonder how many can't figure out why they don't get responses to their resumes. Not many employers are interested in providing lots of on-the-job training if they can find a qualified candidate for a job. And if your credentials are way out of sync with a job's requirements, odds are managers and HR folks are simply going to think you're goofy for applying.

Dona Dezube wrote about this for JITM in August:

Before you reply, digest the job description and make sure you have the required experience and education, suggests Timothy Wujcik, chairman of Chase Winters Worldwide, a Chicago recruitment firm. He estimates about 10 percent of the candidates who e-mail their replies to Internet job postings don't do that. "We were looking for an individual with compensation of $450,000 and we received a resume from a candidate who was a messenger," Wujcik recalls as an example. "There was no correlation whatsoever between this job and his job as a messenger."

Tips for Responding to Online Ads [JITM]

Ready to Move Up?

How promotable are you? Or, more important, how promotable does your company think you are? ClearRock, a Massachusetts coaching and outplacing company surveyed 100 companies and found most of them think their middle managers are qualified to move up. A solid third, though, thought they were unqualified:

"At best, most companies rate their middle managers as being in the middle of the pack and sorely in need of the strategic thinking and leadership skills that will help raise them to the next level." said Greg Gostanian, a ClearRock managing partner.

Strategic thinking and leadership skills ranked as the top one and two skills companies believe that middle managers need to develop. Communication, developing direct reports and motivating people followed.

Where do you get these skills? The Louisville Courier-Journal says 25 percent of the companies are providing more coaching than they were two years ago, but another 25 percent are providing less.

One-quarter of companies are providing more coaching and management development than two years ago while another quarter are giving less management preparation. Instead, companies are spending more time developing employees who are early in their careers, according to Stevens.

Many middle managers viewed as not promotable [Louisville Courier-Journal]

Food for Thought on Wall Street

If you believe Wall Street's health is a barometer of the overall economy's, you'd best take a deep breath and read today's Financial News article on the plans investment banks have to cut jobs and make contingency plans for a possible market slowdown in the second half of 2007.

Most banks cut between 1% and 5% of their staff each year as part of performance reviews. In the past few years the cuts have been at the lower end of this range, as banks struggle to keep up with high volumes of business.

The head of one investment bank in London said: “We are applying greater economic discipline to our costs this year than for several years. We can only afford to pay our best staff competitively if we don’t waste money on those who do not deliver. For the past few years, the industry has been growing rapidly. While next year looks like it will remain strong for investment banking, there are concerns over the interest rate environment, trading profits and levels of leverage.”

One big US bank recently held an offsite meeting for its senior directors, where one of the sessions was called “Preparing for the Downturn”.

Earlier this year, the Securities Industry Association (now the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) estimated Wall Street's profits could drop 22 percent next year, and a number of investment banks have been tightening their belts lately through cost-containment programs or job reductions. All food for thought.

Banks get tough on performance [Financial News]

Friday, December 08, 2006

Doings in California

The job market for accountants and other financial professionals remains strong in California.

In Los Angeles, a robust 10 percent of CFOs expected to add staff while three percent anticipated cutting jobs. The net seven-percent rise was one point higher than the previous quarter's figure, and three points above the national average. In San Francisco, seven percent of the executives said they would probably add personnel. Three percent expected to reduce staff. The increase was one point higher than the forecast for the third quarter of 2006.

Net increases in San Diego and Sacramento were three and two points respectively - below the national average but still strong.

James Rubin takes a look for

Accounting, Finance Professionals Sought in California [JITM]

Work-Life Balance in Action

MSNBC profiles CPA Allen Sheffield, who stepped off the partnership track of Coopers & Lybrand so he could spend more time working with a local youth ministry. He went to work in Kmart's auditing department - he loves accounting, but the long hours at Coopers didn't allow much time for ministry work. Then he worked full-time in the ministry until his former colleagues called:

In the summer of 2005, partner Mark Matthews asked if Sheffield wanted to meet for lunch to discuss the possibility of him coming back to the firm.

“I laughed at him,” he recounted, because he had already tried and failed to get the kind of flexible schedule he needed. “Mark told me things had changed.”

Sheffield decided to check it out, calling former co-workers and managers at the company to make sure they had indeed changed their ways when it came to work and family initiatives, and after discussing it with his wife, Paula, came up with a schedule that would fit his many obligations and proposed it to the managers at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Be sure to read the comments that go along with article (they're here). Folks have posted good and helpful thoughts.

Chase your dream job, but keep your day job [MSNBC]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Struggling for GAAP Talent

"As businesses are becoming global, it becomes more difficult and complex within a company to structure the accounting function and skill sets. It's difficult to find personnel throughout the world familiar with local standards and U.S. GAAP."

So said Marsha Hunt, vice president and corporate controller at diesel engine manufacturer Cummins, during a discussion at the FEI's New York conference on current financial reporting issues. Writer Carol Lippert Gray was there, and reported on Hunt's remarks for

The Need for GAAP Knowledge Overseas [JITM]

Off-Topic Post #2

At five o'clock last night, I'm walking through Grand Central Station when there's a jingle of bells and music begins to play. I stop in the middle of the concourse - which, if you've never been there, is this high, open, echoing space - and watch as a cascade of lights begin to fall along the walls. It a nightly holiday show, and it's quite lovely.

I took the picture below with my cell phone, from the top of the stairs by Park Avenue. The quality's not great, but to give you an idea of the scale, the series of horizontal white lights toward the lower left are the train schedules, which stand about 10 or 12 feet off the main floor. To see a larger version, click on the picture.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Finance: It's More Than Just Numbers

Accounting managers, tax directors, CFOs - I've heard all of them say that communication is important if you're going to get ahead. James Rubin spoke at length with Petter Wendel, chief financial officer of the investment firm Greystone & Co., about why that is.

You've got to work with people to pull together numbers and get financial statements out. Communicating what needs to be done is important. Secondly, a lot of the information we create in the accounting department is used by people who are not accounting types. Finding a way to communicate that information so it's useful is also important.

Communicating is Vital - Even in Finance [JITM]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Radical Retention Strategies

The single most impressive corporate campus I've ever visited is that of Best Buy, the retailing giant based outside of Minneapolis. When BusinessWeek describes the place as "ultramodern," it's not saying half of it. There are coffee shops, multimedia presentations playing in the walls, dry cleaning services, child care on sight, and an energy like you feel in top-end shopping centers.

Now Best Buy is in the midst of experimenting with a "results-only work environment," or ROWE. As BusinessWeek describes it:

Hence workers pulling into the company's amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren't considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. It's O.K. to take conference calls while you hunt, collaborate from your lakeside cabin, or log on after dinner so you can spend the afternoon with your kid.

... arguably no big business has smashed the clock quite so resolutely as Best Buy. The official policy for this post-face-time, location-agnostic way of working is that people are free to work wherever they want, whenever they want, as long as they get their work done. "This is like TiVo for your work," says the program's co-founder, Jody Thompson. By the end of 2007, all 4,000 staffers working at corporate will be on ROWE. Starting in February, the new work environment will become an official part of Best Buy's recruiting pitch as well as its orientation for new hires. And the company plans to take its clockless campaign to its stores - a high-stakes challenge that no company has tried before in a retail environment.

The article goes onto to discuss how other companies have approached Best Buy to learn more about the strategy, with an eye toward adopting it themselves. For good reason:

Best Buy notes that productivity is up an average 35% in departments that have switched to ROWE. Employee engagement, which measures employee satisfaction and is often a barometer for retention, is way up too, according to the Gallup Organization, which audits corporate cultures.

I bring all this up because not only does Best Buy employ accountants, auditors and tax professionals (though there's no word on whether those departments are involved in ROWE just yet), but because the challenges the program addresses are the same as those faced by any number of accounting and auditing firms struggling to hang on to their people: Long hours, high stress, no life.

Best Buy smashes the clock [BusinessWeek via MSNBC]

Cool Under Fire

MassMutual and Harris Interactive conducted a survey to see if they could draw correlations between job descriptions and how nervous people are about potential disabilities, ie: the financial impact of, say, getting hit by a truck. Turns out accountants are pretty sanguine about such things. Just 27 percent would worry they'd never be able to work again in the wake of a disability, the survey found. This earns them the designation "Cool Cucumber." Advertising and marketing professionals are the ones most anxious about the impact. They get the tag "Nervous Nellies."

Can you just imagine the meeting where they came up with this?

Nervous Nellies and Cool Cucumbers [MassMutual]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Last Week's Poll

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, and last week most of our users said they'll travel at some point between now and the end of the year. Their destination? Either a vacation spot or to wherever their family happens to be. Less than a quarter of those answering the poll on said they'll be working over the holidays. But more than 25 percent - 28.2 percent, to be exact - said they'll be job-hunting.

Do you plan to use the quiet of the holidays to plan or make a job move? Let us know. Add your comment by clicking on the link below.

Tax Departments Still Need Staff

KPMG released the summary of its 2006 Tax Department Survey, which includes this:

…attracting and keeping the right people - and enough of them - appears to be of widespread interest. Many executives report making headway in increasing the head count they now need for a more demanding environment. However, as more
organizations implement and plan an increase in full-time equivalents (FTEs) from the existing talent pool, the potential for people shortages seem clear.

In other words, tax departments still need accountants, and the need is widespread enough to continue the talent shortage a lot of tax directors have complained about in recent years. The survey also says "Staffing shortages are also cited as a significant issue in the struggle for fuller reporting in less time.

The report's 55 pages long and I'm just reading it now. I suspect there might be some more posts about it coming soon. Meantime, if you want to read it yourself, it's available in pdf format at the link below.

2006 Tax Department Survey [KPMG - pdf]

Recruiters and

Workforce Management profiles the networking site and how recruiters use it to connect with candidates. "LinkedIn is actively courting the headhunting set with new services. But new potential competitors are emerging and it remains to be seen whether business-focused networking sites will become central to most recruiters," writes Ed Frauenheim.

For those of you who haven't used it, LinkedIn is a networking site that's designed to connect people for business reasons. I've used it to find sources for articles, to re-connect with old colleagues, or sometimes just to browse around one industry group or another to see who's there. It doesn't replace old-fashioned networking methods like, say, coffee, but it can be a handy tool. And, I find, more and more people are using it from a variety of industries.

It’s hard to gauge exactly what percentage of recruiters have profiles on LinkedIn, given imprecise numbers for the profession. A few years ago, industry publication Recruiter Magazine Online estimated there were 200,000 internal, contract and human resources recruiting professionals working full time for corporations throughout North America, as well as more than 100,000 retained and contingency-based recruiters working at some 25,000 firms.

LinkedIn’s attractiveness to this population has a lot to do with not touting its recruiting role to most users. (Co-founder Konstantin) Guericke and four colleagues started LinkedIn three years ago with a vision of making money from professionals such as recruiters, attorneys and management consultants, who could benefit from a network of high-powered people by pitching their services or snaring job candidates.

The average LinkedIn member, however, would come to the site and use it for free to keep track of colleagues, arrange deals and otherwise make business connections. So far, the plan seems to be working.

LinkedIn’s membership doubled in the past year, and revenue at the site is growing at twice the rate of membership growth, Guericke says. The privately held company, which employs about 70 people, became profitable earlier this year.

Company Profile: Recruiters Get LinkedIn in Search of Job Candidates []

Off-Topic Post #1

When you start a blog, everyone tells you to make it "personal." You know, include little tidbits about things that are interesting even if they're not necessarily related to your main topic. I don't want to muddy the waters too much, but sometimes I come across something that's just too good not to share.

So: For anyone coming to New York this holiday season - or sometime else - try out the Comfort Diner at 214 E 45th St, New York. Truly amazing milk shakes, and I want to publicly thank whoever came up with the idea of a pulled pork and cheese casadeia.

Here's a link with more information from Google.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

SALT Firm Ryan & Company Opens D.C. Office

State and local tax consultant Ryan & Company has opened a Mid-Atlantic regional office in Alexandria, Va. The office is led by Michael Allen, who recently joined the firm as a principal. Previously, Allen had his own Washington-area tax-appeal practice, representing clients in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. He's been both a real estate bank appraiser and a licensed independent fee appraiser. Ryan & Company is headquartered in Dallas and has 27 offices around North America. A press release is here.

Ryan & Company

On N.Y.'s Licensing Requirements

If you're a CPA seeking a license in New York State, and most of your experience is in corporate accounting or investigations, you should be aware: Documenting your qualifying experience may be a bit more difficult than you expect. Myra Thomas wrote an overview of the requirements, and some tips for handling them, for

Challenges for Corporate Accountants in N.Y. [JITM]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thoughts on Salaries: Comments Invited

A few weeks ago, we ran a poll on to ask what people thought was more important: their salary or work-life balance. About 47 percent of the respondents said balance was the bigger issue, while 44 percent emphasized salary.

Then I got an e-mail that detailed one accountant's thoughts about salaries. It's interesting, so I'm posting the entire message here. I'm sure others out there have their own opinions, so feel free to add your own comments.

I am a second year cost accountant at a Fortune 50 corporation in Illinois. I have had a year's experience of auditing and I am now starting my 2nd year of cost accounting here at one my corporation's component plants.

To me, it is all about how much money you make per hour. If I am going to work more, I expect to make more. I find that as you move up in the corporation, the hours you must put in go up proportionally more than the pay until you reach a certain point. If you are going to be in top management, you better value salary over work life balance. However, if you stay on the front lines in the lower level accounting positions, the hours can really stack up too, and the pay is not even comparable to a higher level position.

For me, I feel that $30 an hour is pretty fair for the job of a staff accountant. Therefore, if I were to make time and a half for all the overtime I put in, I would have to make $73,000 a year assuming I work 45 hours a week most of the time and I assume eight-hour days for all the paid days I get off (about 25 a year).

The question is, can I find a job that pays $73,000 a year and only requires nine-hour days. I would say that would be challenging. Therefore, maybe I should have been a high school teacher since they make less money in total but way more $ per hour.

I suggest deciding what you think is a fair amount per hour and then see what salary you need to have based on the hours you work to see if your pay and time is in

Add your thoughts by clicking on the comments link below.

Opportunities Under the FCPA

If you're a certified public accountant with an innate skepticism, and you enjoy foreign travel, problem-solving and out-of-the box thinking, there may be work for you because of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, writes Dona DeZube in an article I just posted on

Skeptical? A CPA? FCPA Work Might Be For You [JITM]

Monday, November 27, 2006

Working With Financial Advisors

For some young CPAs, the future may be about financial advise. This month's Registered Rep, the magazine for those who used to call themselves brokers but now prefer the term "wealth manager," has a long and interesting article on why financial advisors should include different kinds of financial professionals, including CPAs, on their team:

Broker coaches and recruiters say they expect more advisors and reps, particularly those with high-net-worth clients, will come to understand how much leverage they can derive from investing in a sales assistant with a professional background - even if the starting salary is twice what a typical clerical assistant can command.

"It's really the wave of the future," says Katherine Vessenes president of Vestment Advisors, a consulting and training firm for advisors based in Minneapolis. Vessenes, who has advised Sheehan on practice-management issues, is also co-author of Building Your Multi-Million-Dollar Practice (Kaplan Business, 2005). "The top advisors are going to bite the bullet and spend the money and their businesses will really take off," she says.

Don't let the term "sales assistant" put you off. Some of the folks in the article are doing high-level work and making good money doing it. If you're looking for a different way to use your accounting background, giving wealthy investors tax and other advice through the offices of an FA could be an option.

Seek Professional Help [Registered Rep]

It's Bonus Time! (Or not)

Outside of Wall Street, holiday bonuses are on the wane, says the Christian Science Monitor. But that could change if the job market stays tight:

John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, finds that, increasingly, employees have an edge because of the tight labor pool. Noting that this has been a good year for performance, he says, "We expect more companies will be sharing more of that with their employees." Even so, he adds, "Companies are much more careful today about keeping the bonuses in a reasonable frame. There's some caution out there, because the economy is slowing. Next year might not be as strong."

Still, Bob Kustka, president of CHR Partners, a human resources consulting firm in Norwell, Mass., expects changes: "Bonuses are going to come back into vogue in the next few years as the war for talent heats up," he says. "The new workers entering the workforce, the millennials, will be harder to keep. They don't have the same level of loyalty [that] previous generations had. Therefore organizations will be looking for innovative ways to keep those workers." Already he sees gaps in accounting, engineering, and nursing.

For companies that do give bonuses, staffers want a little clarity in how their amounts are determined. Employees, said one outplacement specialist, "want to be treated fairly and have clear expectations."

The vanishing holiday bonus [Christian Science Monitor]

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

IRS Recruits on Campus

The Internal Revenue Service was at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan last month. It teamed 34 students - most of them accounting majors - with about 20 special agents and retirees to simulate the investigation of financial crimes. The session was part the Adrian Project, which the IRS has brought to 10 different states to encourage more students to apply for positions in the service.

IRS brings 'Adrian Project' to campus [Valley Vanguard]

Yes, You Need a Mentor

Talk to a career coach and sooner or later they'll get around to mentoring. We write a lot about it (see our latest here) because having a mentor whom you can trust with your confidences, and can trust to offer frank insight, is such an important component of effective career-management.

So, of course, I noticed an article on MSNBC about the importance of mentors to women as they strive to break through the glass ceiling. Eve Tahmincioglu writes about Deloitte & Touche USA Chairman Sharon Allen's experience:

"I can’t stress enough how important mentoring is to achieving success in one's career," says Sharon Allen, Chairman of Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. She credits the mentors she’s had in her career with helping her enter the small club of high-ranking women executives.

A key mentor for her was the managing partner in Deloitte’s Boise, Idaho, office where she worked early on in her career. "He would give me a little bit of additional confidence by standing by me and giving me that nudge to assure me I was doing the right thing," she explains. "As I developed in my career and moved along up the ladder, I established new connections with people I felt were looking out for me."

The lack of female role models, she adds, continues to hinder advancement for women, so women find themselves "establishing their own way and styles that work for them, and as a result, the additional reinforcement from a mentor is useful."

Work is complicated today, and even if you don't aspire to the chairman's office (woman or not, that's Allen's title) having a mentor can help you determine the best course through any number of issues you'll face as your career develops, whether its positioning yourself for a promotion to taking family leave. Tahmincioglu's article is a good primer, even for men.

Mentors can help women shatter glass ceiling [MSNBC]
Strategies to Help You Move Up [JITM]

Monday, November 20, 2006

Foreign Firms Looking Here

European financial firms are looking for talent here in the U.S., Myra Thomas writes in a piece we posted this morning on

The attraction of the U.S. consumer's spending power and the American capital market is creating a wave of European company expansion here, presenting opportunities for finance professionals in a wide range of disciplines. Skilled investment managers, accountants, analysts and CPAs with appropriate industry knowledge and an understanding of foreign markets can be an asset to firms considering establishing or expanding their stateside presence.

Foreign Firms Seek U.S. Talent for Expansions [JITM]

A Good Match Vs. Wishful Thinking

Recently I've received a lot of e-mail from accountants and auditing professionals expressing frustration: They get nowhere applying for jobs even though their degree isn't in a related field and/or they don't posses a relevant certification.

In the best case, these folks are trying to push themselves into challenging roles they haven't prepared for. In the worst case, they're just not paying attention to the jobs they're applying for.

We're going to write some more stories about matching yourself with the right opportunities. But in the meantime I have to suggest everyone bear in mind a key rule of job-hunting: Make sure your credentials fit with the employer's needs. As Robbie Miller Kaplan wrote for us last August:

Employers are interested in hiring applicants that have qualifications that match their job requirements.

Do you have the appropriate education, training or certifications? If not, it's in your best interest to obtain them through traditional or online learning. Pursue alternative sources to secure practical experience, such as internships and volunteer opportunities.

And Dona DeZube, in an article on responding to online job ads, said:

Make Sure You Fit: Before you reply, digest the job description and make sure you have the required experience and education, suggests Timothy Wujcik, chairman of Chase Winters Worldwide, a Chicago recruitment firm. He estimates about 10 percent of the candidates who e-mail their replies to Internet job postings don't do that. "We were looking for an individual with compensation of $450,000 and we received a resume from a candidate who was a messenger," Wujcik recalls as an example. "There was no correlation whatsoever between this job and his job as a messenger."

Wujcik's example may be extreme, but his point is a good one. I'd love to get some feedback on this. Click the comment link below.

Ask the Expert: I'm Qualified - Why Can't I Find a Job? [JITM]
Tips for Responding to Online Ads [JITM]

Friday, November 17, 2006

In Demand in the Garden State

Given it's proximity to New York and Philadelphia, and its being home to a goodly number of financial, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, it's no real surprise that New Jersey is in need of accountants. Writes Yvonne Darling in the local business newspaper NJBiz:

Michael H. Karu, a certified public accountant at Levine, Jacobs & Co. in Livingston, says accounting jobs often appeal to those looking for steady employment, but they often trail other jobs in initial appeal.

"It’s not glamorous nor is it a way to instant riches. Conversely, have you ever seen an accountant on a breadline?" he said.

Good point. Meantime, Rothstein Kass in Roseland, N.J., says it's hired 120 recent accounting graduates this year alone.

Have You Ever Seen an Accountant on a Breadline? [NJBiz]

Vanderbilt Plans Accounting Master's Program

Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management will begin offering a master' program in accountancy in the fall of 2007.

The 10-month program is intended for non-accounting undergraduates who aspire to launch their careers with one of the top five global accounting firms - Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Vanderbilt University to offer Master of Accountancy degree [VU Cast]

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wal-Mart's in Recruiting Mode

Wal-Mart visited the University of Delaware a few weeks ago, spreading the word about opportunities for summer interns and entry-level professionals at the mega-retailer's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. Recruiter Levey Williams and senior internal auditor Lashondra Jones spoke to about 140 students.

Using a slide presentation, Jones explained her responsibilities as an auditor for Wal-Mart, which includes reconciling inventory and managing the shrink, or loss, of the company. Wal-Mart offers positions in this field in 13 states, and new employees receive on-the-job training for 14-16 weeks. Employees are offered benefits and the opportunity to travel around the country and overseas, she said.

Jones said she had no desire to become an auditor when she was at the University of Alabama. "Before Wal-Mart came to my campus and talked about it, I had never thought of internal audit as a possible career," she said. "It's an interesting one."

Joyce Henderson, assistant director of UD's Bank of America Career Services Center, said she helped bring Wal-Mart to campus because of the quality of the available positions. "Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the world, and when I spoke with Levey Williams, he talked about some of the awesome opportunities for positions for undergraduate students, which included the auditing position that they alluded to in the program," Henderson said. "When he shared with me what the benefit package was, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for our students to investigate."

Wal-Mart's probably as much a leader in getting bad press as it is in making money. But over the years I've spoken to a few people who work in Wal-Mart's tax department and they seem to think it's a challenging, good place to work.

Wal-Mart recruits UD students for internships, careers [UDaily]

Recruiters and You

A lot's been written about why recruiters are your ready allies in job hunting. The most recent I've seen is by Sarah Needleman on (here), who writes about finding recruiters whose focus matches yours. She also includes some good ideas for networking. And as long as we're talking about recruiters, earlier this year I posted a story (here) by Scott Krady on developing effective relationships with recruiters once you've found them. Though it was written for people on Wall Street, a lot of its tips can applied in the accounting world.

Ways to Find Recruiters Who Specialize in Your Niche [CareerJournal]
How To Develop A Relationship With A Recruiter [eFC]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Offshore Finance

So, I see that Outsource Partners International, which calls itself a "professional services firm dedicated solely to finance and accounting outsourcing," has opened a service center in Sofia, Bulgaria. It will have 125 people offering finance and accounting services in different European languages.

Offshoring of financial and accounting jobs is one of those things I keep an eye on. Wall Street's been sending a lot of its back-office jobs overseas, and of course the trend toward transferring IT and customer service jobs out of the country has been written about for years.

This press-release paragraph is a bit heavy, but read it anyway (please):
After considering a number of locations, OPI decided to open its newest facility in Bulgaria largely due to the country’s abundance of highly skilled multi-lingual professionals. Nearly 80% of the university educated population speaks at least one foreign language, while nearly 25% speak two or more foreign languages. At the same time, the country is politically and economically stable with plans underway to join the European Union in January 2007. These attributes make the new OPI facility an ideal nearshore alternative for European-based companies looking to cut costs and improve efficiency through finance and accounting outsourcing.

What's so important about all that? For one thing, it profiles the competition you might face for corporate finance jobs in the next decade, or the people you might end up managing if you're an ambitious young manager. On the one hand, everyone says demand for CPAs and financial pros is high right now; on the other hand, I hear from a lot of people who've been looking for the right job for months, if not longer. This particular center is aimed at serving European firms, but file this item away for future reference. It's just another bit about the changing landscape.

Outsource Partners International

Where Men Are Men - and Accountants Are Scarce

The Montana Society of CPAs has launched a Web site - the Montana Connection [here] - as part of its campaign to lure CPAs to the state and keep native-born talent at home. The Helena Independent Record says in less than a month and with little publicity, the site has already filled two accounting positions. It also offers tools for calculating the cost of living in Montana, and notes on obtaining your certification there.

Calling all CPAs: Web site promotes accounting jobs in state []
Montana Connection

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Finding Mistakes So You Don't Have To

Normally, I don't think of Robert Half as an outfit with a great sense of humor. But its Resumania Web site is a hoot. It's billed as a "place for real-life examples of how not to write a resume," and it lives up to its name. Skip the "retro" section, which has some nuggets you may well have seen before, and go to the "Hall of Fame" or "Online Resumania." My personal favorites:

QUALIFICATIONS: "Self-motivated, organized and detail oriented. High standards including attention to detail and quality of work."

EXPERIENCE: "Detailed-oriented saleman."

OBJECTIVE: "To be revered as a Goddess for my analytical skills; to be admired and talked about for my creative and elegant ideas; to work for a group that's still in it to have fun and make That Dream come alive; to be surrounded by good people who laugh often and whose own personal motivation inspires me; to forge consensus and sow encouragement in those around me."

"COVER LETTER: I am extremely loyal to my present firm, so please don't let them know I'm looking to change jobs."


KPMG Targets Private Equity Funds

KPMG has formed a U.S. Private Equity Group to provide more services from senior partners to private equity funds. The group will help clients with merger and acquisition structuring, due diligence, tax work, audit and advisory services for private-equity funds and portfolio companies, and other transactional assistance.

Donald C. Spitzer, 57 and a 35-year veteran of KPMG, will lead the group as national managing partner - private equity. He said every member of the group is already providing customized services to large funds. Now based in New York, Spitzer previously was Southwest area managing partner for audit, risk and advisory services. He's also been on a national partner- in-charge and an office managing partner, and led development of the Transaction Services practice and the Restructuring Practice of the firm from the mid 1990s to 2001. A quick Web search tells us he's also a 2006 officer of the Boy Scouts of America's Circle 10 Council.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Managing Your Own Retention

It seems that companies and employees are a bit out of sync when it comes to what keeps people sticking around. Max Messmer, the oft-quoted chairman of Robert Half International, suggests retention is mostly about challenges and opportunity (see the context here), but a survey by HR consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the human resources association WorldatWork indicates pay is a bigger reason than most employers acknowledge.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the survey indicates companies underestimate the value of health-care benefits in keeping employees on-board. Deborah Keary, director of human resources for the Society for Human Resource Management, told the Journal employers shouldn't single out pay or job opportunities by themselves as the greatest retention issue. Both are contributing factors to the retention challenge, she said.

Most of the accountants I've talked to, and the AICPA's chief himself (here), talk about the importance of getting firms in-sync with younger professionals. And I'm flat-out afraid I'll be called predictable if I mention the heat's really on them because of the competition for young CPAs with a few years of experience under their belts.For the accountant, it all comes down to communication: Making sure you're clear in letting your firm know what you're looking for in terms of pay, quality of life, balance and benefits.

CFOs Value Employee Loyalty [JITM]
AICPA Chair Talks Retention [JITM-CW]

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Breaking News: Tax Directors Stressed

Tax executives can't make their headcounts and budgets keep pace with their departments' increasing workloads. And though tax departments are gaining visibility within the corporation, their leaders are having to do more work they regard as less valuable to the business. The reason? According to KPMG's annual survey of senior tax executives, it's all about compliance.

Among the survey's findings:
  • Some 42 percent of tax executives said they actually have fewer days in the financial close process than they did last year, with only seven percent saying they have more time.
  • Tax departments continue to grapple with increased work as a result of SOX 404 compliance requirements (80 percent), increased documentation requirements (86 percent), and increased independent auditor requirements (81 percent).
  • Some 89 percent of tax directors say increased tax accounting and SOX 404 requirements are forcing them to spend less time on tax planning than they would like.
  • In addition to technology-specific improvements, tax departments reported they plan to increase training (56 percent) add resources/staff (44 percent), and increase use of outside consulting (35 percent).

Increasing Regulatory Demands Are Changing Role of Corporate Tax Departments, KPMG Study Reveals [KPMG]

And as long as I'm linking, here's a link to a story jobsinthemoney ran on what tax directors look for in job candidates:

What Tax Directors Look for When Hiring [JITM]

The State of SALT

Hiring in State and Local Tax practices - which go by one of my favorite acronyms, "SALT" - may slow down a bit next year, but still remain relatively strong. James Rubin writes on that firms of all sizes are taking on a steadily growing amount of work in the area, and are hiring both experienced hands and fresh-out-of-college associates to help. One key to success here has nothing to do with numbers: Brian Murphy, managing partner of Grant Thornton's SALT services, says he also looks for strong communication skills and the ability to think on the fly when he's considering job candidates.

CPA Firms Still Need SALT Expertise [JITM]

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More on the Young Accountants Survey

Reading through the press release on CCH's survey of young accountants, one thing in particular struck me: CPAs with four to seven years of experience don't think their firms are providing the tools necessary to do their work well, appropriate rewards, and enough challenge. Which strikes me as something more firms should be worried about, given the pressure to keep people on board nowadays. A partner in one firm says accounting firms tend to be conservative when it comes to workplace issues - but you have to wonder whether or not they can afford to hang on to that conservative streak much longer.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Deloitte's Compliance Chief on Careers

We posted an interview this morning with Harold Tinkler, chief ethics and compliance officer for Deloitte & Touche USA since 2003. Tinkler's been with Deloitte for 35 years, so he understands the business and he understands the firm. He talks about his role, his typical day, and offers some advice to those interested in careers in compliance and ethics. You can read the interview here.

Q&A: Deloitte's Ethics and Compliance Watchdog [JITM]

AICPA Chair Talks Retention

AICPA Chair Leslie Murphy says the shortage of accounting professionals is likely a long-term situation and told firms they need to be more pro-active when it comes to holding on to their staffs. As a profession, accounting "has to do more to make it inclusive and attractive if we're going to successfully compete with other career options available," he told the CCH User Conference in Boca Raton last week.

Noting that in 14 years 75 percent of AICPA members will be approaching retirement, Murphy said accounting firms need to be more in-tune with younger workers and their hot-button issues - things like work-life balance, corporate culture and flexibility in the workplace.

At the same session, CCH's Mike Sabbatis outlined the results of CCH's Young Accounting Professionals Survey and said firms need to better understand the accounting workforce. "They must look at career paths and implement development programs that keep good employees eager to work for their firm."

AICPA Chair Details Staffing Strategies in Tight Job Market [SmartPros]
Survey: Young CPAs Say Firms Fail to Deliver on Key Attributes [SmartPros]


It's election day, and maybe this isn't exactly related to your work, but I'll say it anyway: Go vote. In my home district in Pennsylvania, the poll workers told me it's been an exceptionally heavy turnout - nearly 500 voters had signed in before 11:30. So, go vote.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Opportunities in Orangeburg County, S.C. - Maybe

An un-named accounting firm is mulling an office in Orangeburg County, S.C., but the county government needs to show it's got the right labor pool in order to convince the firm to set up shop. The firm - which asked economic development officers to keep its name out of the papers - is looking for 200 candidates to fill 45 positions. Ultimately, 200 back-office jobs could be created to handle benefits packages for large companies. Officials said the firm "is a highly credible company that is raising the bar for the overall community."

Accounting firm considers Orangeburg [Times & Democrat]

Career Information from the AICPA

The AICPA is offering a free DVD on staff retention to its members. Even though it approaches the issue from the employer's point of view, it's being publicized to audiences like the Young CPA Network (see more here), who aren't all in the position of hiring and managing staffs. I haven't seen the disc yet, so I'm shooting off my mouth a bit here, but tools like this can be valuable for career-management purposes because they can provide insight into what firms are thinking. I've asked the AICPA for a copy, and once I've had a chance to look at it, I'll let you know whether it's worth looking at.

In any case, the AICPA's Web site has a lot of interesting career information on it, in addition to the Young CPAs Network. Check out it's information on work-life balance (here) and general women's issues (here).


Friday, November 03, 2006

Any Day Now

A quick check of the SEC's Web site shows the agency is looking for accountants. Not a lot of them, mind you, and many of the positions seem to be open only to current government employees. The pay looks okay - these are GS 13/14 jobs with salaries around $100,000 - and of course you can't beat the government for benefit security.

What piqued my interest was an article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times that said the SEC brought nine percent fewer enforcement actions in FY 2006 than it did last year. The reason?

The drop was largely a result of reduced staff, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said in the statement. The agency restricted hiring in 2006 because it had to close a $48.7-million budget gap triggered partly by cost overruns in building a new headquarters in Washington.

A spokesman told the Times the agency planned to start filling some of the job openings, though he wouldn't say when.

SEC actions fall 9% on job vacancies [LA Times]
Securities & Exchange Commission

Boston's Landscape

Boston firms are in need of CPAs with a few years of experience under their belts, not only in taking on accounting chores, but also in managing staff. In Boston last week, David J. Clarkson, a CPA who is vice president of human resources for Vitale, Caturano & Co., told me "there are a lot of firms here, and we need people with six years of experience - say, the three-to-seven year people." The trick, he said, is finding accountants who can also be supervisors, especially in areas like tax, Sarbanes-Oxley, internal audit and technical risk. "It's hard to find good people who want to work in public accounting in those areas," Clarkson said. You can read my full story here.

I hope to write more about Vitale, Caturano. The place has an air about it that's not all calculated atmosphere. To hear Dave tell it, the firm will do pretty much anything reasonable to keep talented staff on board, and has a higher-than-average retention rate. It offers on-site yoga classes, parking, flex-time, free food ("food is very important to us," Dave said) and a waterfront location. One of the interesting points he made about the industry's overall approach to retention is that such things worked. He thinks they'll be around for a long time.

In fairness, I should point out Dave's observation that the firm's culture was a part of its founders' vision. It was about having fun, not "employee retention." The last time I was in an office like this, I was visiting Steve Jobs' old NeXT Computer as part of a contingent from Dow Jones.

Experience in Demand for Boston CPAs [JITM]
Vitale, Caturano

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Opportunites in Family Offices

Family Offices - which offer wealth management and other financial services to families who have millions of dollars in liquid assets - are engaged in something of a talent war. Among other things, they're looking for CPAs. I posted a story on this morning.

Wealthy Spur Increased Need for 'Family Offices' [JITM]

Gay and Lesbian Issues

How industries treat their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees is tracked by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group in Washington. In September, HRC published its Corporate Equality Index 2006, "a report card" on GLBT equality in corporate America. Given that accounting, as an industry, has been trying to ratchet up its efforts in diversity in recent years, it's interesting to see how it's fared here. HRC says its "consulting and business services" industry group, which includes accounting firms like the Big Four, showed dramatic growth this year. All of the Big Four received a perfect score in the survey.

It's a dense report, and there's a lot of marketing-speak in it. But if you're interested in diversity, it might be worth a look.

Corporate Equality Index 2006 [HRC]

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Alvarez & Marsal Poaches from Big Four

A lot of hiring's been going on at Atlanta-based M&A adviser Alvarez & Marsal: The firm's poached some Big Four talent for transaction and tax advisory groups in Chicago and New York. Michael Gacek and Brandon Crawley jumped - from Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers respectively - to join the transaction advisory staff in Chicago. Kevin Karl and Martin Williams also left PwC to join the New York office: Karl will be a manager in transaction advisory, while Williams joins tax advisory as a senior director. Meanwhile, another senior director, Lauren Byrne, left Ernst & Young for tax advisory.

Alvarez & Marsal builds transaction and tax advisory [Financial News]

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Moves

When we see news about executives moving into roles where they might impact hiring, we'll pass it on. To begin the tradition:

Deloitte & Touche USA named Irvin H. Bisnov to the post of managing partner of its Carolinas practice, which includes offices in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., and Greenville and Columbia, S.C. A 20-year veteran of Deloitte, Bisnov most recently was the Assurance & Enterprise Risk Services (AERS) leader in the financial services sector for the Southeast Region. His predecessor, Michael Baker, will take on a new and as-yet unspecified role at Deloitte. Bisnov said he wants to maintain the Carolinas practice's "strong emphasis on growth."

The PMI Group promoted Robert H. Fore III to assistant vice president of global taxation, responsible for directing the global corporate tax function, including the management of tax risks and the establishment and maintenance of global tax accounting and reporting policies and procedures. Fore joined PMI's Corporate Tax Department in 2001. In 2004, he became manager of the accounting operations of CMG Mortgage Insurance Company, a joint venture that serves the credit union market. In 2005, he was promoted to Director of CMG Accounting. Based in Walnut Creek, Calif., PMI Group provides services in credit, capital and risk transfer.

Deloitte & Touche USA
PMI Group

Monday, October 30, 2006

The First Post

CareerWire is for accountants and corporate financial professionals who are interested in managing their careers. By that, I don't mean simply looking for their next job, but rather figuring what kind of life they want to live, what kind of work they want to do and how they can go about getting both.

One thing's for sure: It's a good time to be in accounting and finance. Accounting firms and public companies are struggling with recruitment and retention, especially for people with five or six years of experience under their belts. They're getting more aggressive with salaries, bonuses and perks, and they're working harder to address the long hours and crimped lifestyles that come with tax seasons, audits and compliance deadlines. This atmosphere isn't going to last forever, though most people expect it to go on for a while. We want to help you get the most of the good times while being ready to move strategically when things slow down.

We envision this as a companion to the articles we post on Here, we'll point you to additional news as soon as we find it, gather your comments, even let you exchange comments among yourselves. I hope we'll hear from you enough to adjust our coverage based on your needs, the challenges you face and the kinds of questions you want answered. If we do our job right, along the way we'll have a little fun.

If you have news or thoughts you don't want to put out there for the world to see, just e-mail me privately. I'll keep your identity between us. Just send your message to editor at