Monday, April 30, 2007

The Pay Gap

Writes Cathy Arnst on BusinessWeek's Web site:

A study released this week by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation found that a dramatic pay gap emerges between women and men in the U.S. the year after they graduate from college, and widens over the ensuing decade.

One year out of college, women working full time earn 80% percent of what men earn. Ten years later, women earn 69% percent as much as men.

Then, she moves into some analysis:

However, the researchers do suggest that women themselves may be partly to blame for the gap: "Women expect less and negotiate less pay for themselves than
do men."

I hate to blame the victim, but that sounds plausible to me. I know far too many women who think it is somehow unseemly in the workplace to promote themselves, or demand more money. I think many women consistently undervalue themselves and their skills, which may be why many of us take on the bulk of the household chores even though we hold demanding jobs. Do we too easily assume that somehow the husband's job is more important, either because he works more hours (and how much of that is by choice?) or earns more? Perhaps its time to re-evaluate our worth, both on the job and at home. Or at the very least teach our daughters to be more demanding.

What's interesting is that many of the people weighing in with comments aren't buying either the thrust of the report or Arnst's analysis.

Remember that in February, SmartPros reported a significant pay gap between male and femail accountants - 44 percent: "Men reported an average of $101,203 and women an average of $70,520," SmartPros said.

Working Parents [BusinessWeek]
SmartPros Salary Survey Results [SmartPros]

The Value of Overseas Experience

Edward Prensky, an accounting and tax manager at Boyle & Co. P.A., in Frederick, Md., has some advice for young accountants:

"I would recommend working overseas to anyone," he said. "The experience taught me other peoples' perspectives on issues and problems. I learned about life under communism, food shortages and how they reacted to problems.

"I loved it, and I hope my daughters (Clara, 8, and Hannah, 7) are better for it."

Prensky was speaking to his local newspaper, the Frederick News Post, which recounts in some detail his years spent overseas, first with PricewaterhouseCoopers, then as a financial controller for manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser in Warsaw. All in all, it's an interesting career case study.

Tax manager brings European perspective to accounting firm [Frederick News Post]

Tidbits from Around the Web

Friday, April 27, 2007

What Were They Thinking?

Did anyone at E&Y's management really think this was going to get people excited? Or wasn't embarrassing?

If I were, say KPMG or PWC, I'd call it "Join Us and We'll Never Make You Do This."

What to Say When They Make An Offer

Debra Feldman, an executive talent agent who works with senior finance professionals under the moniker "the JobWhiz," sent us these tips for addressing what she calls "the million dollar question." And that is "What will it take for you to join our team?" Negotiating your terms of employment requires preparation, she says. Here are her tips for getting yourself ready.

  1. Do your homework. Be prepared with figures and facts demonstrating your value to the prospective employer. Know your worth in the market. Research what comparable positions with similar responsibilities command in your industry and in your locale.
  2. Make it clear that your goal is fairness. You want to be compensated commensurately with what your colleagues are paid for comparable responsibilities, and you want to be rewarded for superior performance.
  3. Show that hiring you is not an expense but a smart investment. Prove that you will be able to add to the bottom line through increased sales, cost reductions, revenue gains, enhanced productivity, etc. Have tables or charts to illustrate the impact your expertise will have. Use actual data if available.
  4. Never reveal an exact number for your desired salary or what you are currently making. Give a range that will allow you more room to negotiate for bonuses, benefits, time off, etc. because no two jobs are the same, no two candidates are alike. See Tip # 6 below.
  5. Have a bottom line in mind. What is this opportunity worth to you? What will you give up? What can you exchange to make the numbers work? Is there a necessity, must have, uncompromising need? Then, be willing to be flexible on the rest. Think about time off vs. salary, educational opportunities vs. conference attendance, etc.
  6. Remember that this should be a win-win for you and your future employer. Make sure that they understand that you want this job and you are confident that if they also agree that you are the right choice, together you can make this happen. Take the focus off the dollars and put it on the chance to have an impact, find solutions, move forward, etc.
  7. Work this out with your future boss rather than their HR staff person. Only your future boss knows what they need and will go to bat to get this deal together for you. It's their budget — show them your "other" skills right from the beginning with your abilities to negotiate for yourself!

The JobWhiz

Return-to-Work Discussions

Last fall on eFinancialCareers, we covered the launch of "Back in Business," a program from Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business designed to facilitate the return of women to the workforce after they'd taken time to have children, focus on their families or address other personal issues. (The program is actually designed for men and women, but in reality most of the people who step out of their careers for a while for family reasons tend to be women.)

The pilot program did well, and now Tuck is sponsoring a series of discussions in four cities on the issue. Our coverage is here, and Tuck's information is here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Risk Management, IT Audit Skills Need Improvement?

Risk management and IT auditing are the areas most in need of improvement within internal audit departments, according to a survey by Protiviti, a Robert Half subsidiary that consults on risk and internal audit services. "Given the constantly changing nature of IT and the specialized expertise required to audit these processes, it is imperative for internal auditors to acquire and keep current with IT audit skills," said Bob Hirth, who heads Protiviti's global internal audit practice. "In addition to improving baseline IT audit skills, internal audit organizations may also look to outside expertise to guide them in this technically difficult, dynamic and complex area."

Though you've got to work a bit to find the meat, the press release is worth reading.

Risk Management and IT Audit Skills Most in Need of Improvement Within Internal Audit Departments, According to Protiviti Survey [Protiviti via PRNewswire]

Added Value from Tax Departments

Here's something interesting from the Big 4 newsletter:

A KPMG International study of trends in tax management, The Governance of Tax, argues that over-cautious boards may risk losing value to competitors who look a tax as a source of competitive advantage.

According to KPMG International, leading tax-oriented organizations should mention clearly in a defendable position on how tax and risk are managed; should maintain well-documented, board approved tax strategies; should construct an enterprise resource planning system for providing useful tax information and maintain transparency (read tax information) with internal as well as external stakeholders.

It makes me wonder if there's a potential evolution in the role of tax departments, which are already trying to show they add value to a business's bottom line in a variety of ways. It's one thing to maintain the effective tax rate, it's another to be part of a competitive advantage.

KPMG Global Study Shows Tax Management Can Boost Corporate Value [Big 4]

News for CPAs in California

We've introduced a new feature to JobsintheMoney: A twice-monthly wrap-up of goings-on in the California CPA and auditing communities. It comes to us from our Los Angeles-based writer James Rubin. This week, he looks at accounting and finance opportunities at non-profits, colleges and school districts, and previews the California CPA Education Foundation's upcoming conference for young professionals.

Calif. Wrap-Up: Non-Profits Can Be Intense [JITM]

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You're SO Good...

Last week, The Wall Street Journal ran a story about how younger workers are so used to being bathed in praise from parents and teachers, they're stunned if they don't get the same treatment at work:

Employers are dishing out kudos to workers for little more than showing up. Corporations including Lands' End and Bank of America are hiring consultants to teach managers how to compliment employees using email, prize packages and public displays of appreciation. The 1,000-employee Scooter Store Inc., a power-wheelchair and scooter firm in New Braunfels, Texas, has a staff "celebrations assistant" whose job it is to throw confetti -- 25 pounds a week -- at employees. She also passes out 100 to 500 celebratory helium balloons a week. The Container Store Inc. estimates that one of its 4,000 employees receives praise every 20 seconds, through such efforts as its "Celebration Voice Mailboxes."

And my favorite line:

The average college student in 2006 was 30% more narcissistic than the average student in 1982.

OK, an amusing story. Worth a smug chuckle from those of us who missed that particular boat. And today came some letters to the Journal, just to underscore what some older folks in the business world are thinking:

I read with disbelief, then with laughter about the techniques for managing the younger generation of workers. Rather than calling in one of the balloon and confetti work force consultants, I think I'm going to call the offshore, outsourcing consultants.

John Seus
Gloucester, Mass.

So the wimps of the baby-boom generation have raised a wimpier generation that needs constant praise for just showing up at work? I remember a time not so long ago if you couldn't be at work on time or at all, you just lost your job. Now I have to praise some pup because he got out of bed today? Oh please, spare me the superlatives. The fascists won't have to fire a shot to take over our country. All they have to do is not praise us and we will kowtow to their every whim.

Bob Stocker
Lyman, S.C.

Those curmudgeons have no empathy. Anyway, which are you? Praise-dependent or just hunkered down and doing your job? It matters to your firm, if retention is on their minds.

Am I Good Employee? Huh, Boss, Am I? [WSJ - $]

The Most-Praised Generation Goes to Work [WSJ - $]

Broker/Dealer Information for CPAs

New York area CPAs who want to get leg up on the hedge fund or broker-dealer arena should consider attending the Foundation for Accounting Education's 2007 Broker/Dealer Conference on May 16 in New York. Myra Thomas provides the details. You'll even get continuing education credits.

N.Y. Conference Focuses on Broker/Dealer Accounting [JITM]

Internships Count

Internships play an important role in the hiring decisions made by many CFOs. A survey by Accountemps found that fully half say internships count most in their evaluation of entry-level candidates, "aside from functional knowledge." A good internship carries more weight than referrals, college, or even grade point average.

Survey Suggests Internships Play Key Role in Hiring Decisions [Accountemps via PRNewswire]

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Some Average Salaries

Surfing around, I found this list of average salaries on's blog:

  • Internal Auditor - $47,934
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - $59,108
  • Risk Management Analyst - $58,271
  • Financial Analyst Accountant - $51,212
  • Financial / Securities / Investments Analyst - $64,602
  • Compliance Analyst - $51,021
  • Manager of Financial Accounting - $68,993
  • Cost Accountant - $46,048
  • Senior Accountant - $52,731

Remember, these are averages. You'll find a lot of people making more, or less.

Hot Jobs: Where the Money is in '07 []

The Controller's Career Path

CFO takes another look at the obstacles that can block a controller from moving into the CFO's office.

There once was a time that ... controllers could safely assume that they would move up to the job of CFO, either via an internal promotion or an external recruitment. Today that career path isn't so certain.

Many of the challenges surround the changing role of the CFO, who today are often looked on as possible successors to the chief executive. Meanwhile, controllers have to pay more attention to compliance issues and internal controls, and so can be perceived as being too "internally focused."

However, notes CFO Europe's Janet Kersnar:

Amid the discussion about whether controllers make good CFOs, there's one more question to be addressed: do controllers actually want to be finance chiefs? Not necessarily, says Gerrit Bonnema, a former Big Four auditor who's now group controller of ING Real Estate, a division of ING bank in The Hague which oversees a $120 billion property portfolio.

Today, he says, controllers have a lot of attractive career options, including moving up to the role of managing director or CEO, largely because their skills as auditors are now in greater demand. And besides, he says, the CFO's job has changed just as much as the controller's, and not always for the best. As Bonnema sees it: "The CFO is the target, your head is on the block continuously. I don't know if it's really worth it."

Big Shoes to Fill? [CFO]
CFOs Wanted: Controllers Need Not Apply [CFO]

Eide Bailly Picks Up Sioux Falls Firm

South Dakota's largest accounting firm, Eide Bailly, is acquiring Henry Scholten & Co. The deal merges two of the leading firms in Sioux Falls, and positions the combined operation "to secure more business from national firms," Eide Bailly's Kevin Doyle told the Argus Leader.

The nine partners and 45 staff members from Henry Scholten will increase Eide Bailly's ranks to more than 170. The company will continue hiring throughout the year, with plans to open a new building in the next two or three years, Doyle said.

Eide Bailly has 14 offices in eight states from Arizona to Minnesota. The firm had revenue of about $84 million in 2006, according to Public Accounting Report, making it the 23rd largest firm in the country. It has about 56 partners and more than 530 professionals on-staff.

Accounting merger could create jobs [Argus Leader]

Looming Retirements Spur Recruiting at IRS

The IRS is stepping up recruitment to fill anticipated gaps in a number of specialized fields, including information technology and appeals officers, ahead of a wave of retirements.

Among 13 occupations which the IRS lists as "mission critical" for future hiring, a few start at the relatively high civil service category GS-11 and fall outside the revenue agent and tax examiner slots that traditionally dominate IRS job postings. Along with IT specialists and appeals officers, the list also includes engineers, economists and tax law specialists.

Our story, by Jon Jacobs, is on JobsintheMoney.

IRS Seeks IT, Appeals Specialists [JITM]

Monday, April 23, 2007

Government, Non-Profits Actively Recruiting

As private employers find it increasingly difficult to fill openings in a tight labor market, governmental agencies and non-profits seem to be having a harder time than ever.

Federal agencies like the IRS and big not-for-profit employers like the YMCA used to do relatively little recruiting of experienced accountants and other financial professionals in the New York area, says Dr. Barry Miller, manager of alumni career programs and services at Pace University and an adjunct associate professor at Pace’s Lubin School of Business. “Now, that job market has skyrocketed,” Dr. Miller says.

He says twice as many public agencies and non-profits are set to participate in Pace’s Spring 2007 job fair as at the same event a year ago. The job fair, aimed at Pace alumni and graduate students as well as graduating seniors, takes place this Wednesday, April 25 at the university’s Lower Manhattan campus. (Details here.)

Miller said 76 employers and 500 candidates had signed up as of last week. Most of the candidates are experienced professionals, he said.

The federal government has acknowledged that it faces a staffing crunch in the next five years, as the best-trained segments of the work force in many agencies approach retirement. Meanwhile, the pool of new applicants is shrinking: as Wall Street and Main Street continue to hire at a healthy pace, candidates who formerly might have gone to the public or non-profit sectors are increasingly moving into private-sector careers instead.

Helping Women Succeed

The long-term success of women in the accounting workforce isn't only about encouraging more women to join the profession, but to ensure the older white males who lead the profession communicate with them in ways that encourages their success.

“We have all these women being drawn out of accounting schools and we’re not developing them and they’re dropping out of the profession. Firms are investing millions of dollars in women and they’re just walking out the door,” says Gale Crosley, CPA, founder and principal of Crosley + Co., which serves as consultants to CPA firms looking for practice development assistance, including establishing programs to help women excel in their careers. “Women aren’t taught to be initiators. You have to be an initiator to be a good rainmaker.”

In May, Cosley, a CPA, will host a forum for Women in Accounting with the theme "Becoming All You Can Be." Details are here.

Women on Top? [WebCPA]

Recruiting Season Opens Early

Some college career officers say accounting and finance firms are looking for soon-to-be graduates earlier and earlier:

Bethany Cooper, associate director of the UNH Advising and Career Center, said job recruiters in industries like finance and accounting started their push for candidates in the fall.

The three most popular majors nationwide are business administration and management, psychology, and elementary education, according to Princeton Review, a for-profit educational preparation company.

Cooper said the competition between firms for good candidates has perked up so much in recent years that recruiting efforts seem to have started earlier than ever.

"They are looking for that fantastic student before they get snatched up by someone else," Cooper said.

Hunting for work: College grads, employers starting job push earlier [Foster's Online]

Other Hits from Around the Web

Third of Euro Accountants 'Frustrated Entrepreneurs' [AccountingWeb]

The Most-Praised Generation Goes to Work [WSJ -$]

5 dealmakers follow diverse paths in real estate [Arizona Republic]

Gender Pay Gap in U.S. Starts Right After College, Study Says [Bloomberg]

Friday, April 20, 2007

Longer Resumes Gain Ground

Two-page resumes may be gaining acceptance, a survey by Accountemps found.

The “keep your resume to one page” rule may be on its way out, a new survey suggests. While more than half (52 percent) of executives polled believe a single page is the ideal length for a staff-level resume, 44 percent said they prefer two pages. That compares to 25 percent polled a decade earlier who cited two pages as the optimal resume length; 73 percent of respondents preferred a single page at that time.

Respondents also seemed more receptive to three-page resumes for executive roles, with nearly one-third (31 percent) citing this as the ideal length, compared to only 7
percent 10 years ago.

Personally, I've always thought a two-page resume was acceptable for someone who's got 15 or 20 years of experience under their belt. But that doesn't mean you should take such trends as a license to go long. Among other things, resumes are an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to prioritize and write clearly and concisely. Saying in two pages what you can say in one doesn't demonstrate either.

Resumes Inching Up [Accountemps]

All the Right Questions

Erin Burt at says 2007 is going to be the best year since 2001 for college grads entering the job market. She cites a National Association of College Employers survey that found companies plan to hire nearly 20 percent more fresh graduates than they did last year.

But what her article is really about is taking an honest look at whether or not you want a particular job. And even though she's writing with college grads in mind, Burt's points are worth considering for anyone mulling a new position. Things like benefits, the commute and the potential for advancement all deserve as much thought as compensation.

How to Choose the Right Job []

Be Nice to Gatekeepers

Even before you get asking for a job interview, you're going to run into a extremely important group of people - the gatekeepers. "Make friends with them," writes Carol Lippert Gray, "and whole new worlds can open up."

Carol sat in on a discussion led by Debra Feldman, a Connecticut-based executive talent agent.

"Gatekeepers aren't meanies. They're their boss's designated agents charged with limiting unnecessary, potentially wasteful interruptions and unexpected interference," says Debra Feldman, a Connecticut-based executive talent agent.
Thus, if you don't know the boss - or, more likely, the boss has never heard of you - "you have to show the gatekeeper it's okay to give you an appointment, schedule a meeting, provide an e-mail address or switch you to voice mail," she says.

Feldman outlined a simple approach to developing a relationship with gatekeepers that can not only help you get in the door, but can give you allies during the hiring process, as well.

To Open Doors, Woo the Gatekeeper [JITM]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More Reasons to Update Your Resume

These are from AdAge, and they don't apply only to advertising people.

When we feel unhappy or unsatisfied about things, usually it means that there's something out there that could be better suited for us.

So, let's look at the signs. (And if my boss is reading, please remember I'm just trying to serve our readers). Depending on your answers, updating your resume could become all the more important.

1. You dread getting out of bed in the morning.

I actually don't have a big problem with this, even though I get up at 5. My wife manages to sleep through it but my dog, Cody the Hyperactive Terrier, puts a paw over his eyes and growls as soon as I come out of the shower. So, no, I don't dread getting up but it is causing a bit of family stress.

2. Your work relationships and performance are beginning to suffer.

JobsintheMoney's office is basically a big room without offices or even cubicles. So it's easy for me to see what everyone here thinks about this.

Myles Falkenhainer, our partnership manager (after demanding to know where his remarks would be published) says our relationship is suffering "not at all, not the least bit."

Jon Jacobs, our staff writer, says our working relationship is "pretty healthy." But he started Monday, so give me time.

Over on the sales desk, the women say they hate me and the men say I'm OK. I think my wife would be alright with this.

I couldn't track down my boss to find out what she thinks. But I did OK in my review last December.

3. You become "someone else" at work.

The voices in my head say "No."

4. The position doesn't make use of your talents.

I write for and about financial professionals and CPAs. You, dear reader, are a financial professional and CPA. Your call.

5. You spend most of your time engaged in bitch sessions.

No, not most of my time. Actually, not that much of my time. On the other hand, we've established I have relationship troubles with a chunk of the sales force. Still, I say "no" to this one.

Try out these questions yourself. Post your answers in a comment. Go ahead.

Five Signs Its Time to Look for a New Job [AdAge]

Best Practices from a Recruiter's Side

I was somewhat heartened by an article posted by Allison Boyce on her blog at Boyce is a sourcing manager at Deloitte Services, and her article details things candidates hate about the recruiting process, as well as things they love. What's heartening is that Boyce demonstrates that thoughtful recruiters know it's not a good thing when a firm disappears after early communications with its job candidates. She writes:

I'm willing to hear arguments that being service-oriented in this process is going to reduce the quality of the process, the applicant pool, and the hiring manager's ability to be selective. That's a cop-out. It's harder to do this in a high-volume, low-level environment.

But your role can be automated when you refuse to be the human buffer between the process and your candidate. If the worst outcome you get is that every candidate that you interact with wants you to represent them as their Agent for Life, that is not a bad thing.

In the future, it is the person with the candidate connections who will win, not the person who created the horrendous process. bet that organizations unwilling to change or analyze the process will not win the next generational wave of top talent.

I think this all indicates that good recruiters and good HR people recognize the importance of professional behavior, and will conduct themselves accordingly. It's certainly important for you, as a candidate, to make sure you demonstrate your fit with an organization (as one of the article's commentators says), but it's as important for you to maintain your professional demeanor, and approach the process as a conversation among equals.

10 Things Candidates Hate; 10 Things They Love [ERE]

Tips for Taking Stock

On CareerJournal, Sarah Needleman describes ways to take stock of your career and execute some course corrections. She focuses on confronting distractions, conflicts, e-mail overload and officer chatterboxes. The nice thing is everything she describes is logical, and requires more self-discipline than pain.

Declutter Your Career And Make Way for Success [CareerJournal]

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Delphi Moving Some Finance Jobs to India

Delphi Corp. wants to outsource 650 jobs in the U.S. and Europe as part of its effort to reduce its global salaried headcount by 25 percent. The Detroit News said the company would move the jobs - which involve expense reporting and accounts payable to India through a contract with Genpact International.

Delphi to outsource salaried jobs to India [Detroit News]

Reasons to Update Your Resume

Even if you're happy at work, reviewing and updating your resume once a year can be a valuable exercise, writes Robbie Miller Kaplan.

While resumes are considered a primary job search tool, they also play a key role in all phases of career development. The self assessment process involved in writing a resume helps you plan and prepare for each job move you might consider. And, as you research career opportunities and learn the essential requirements for jobs that interest you, the process helps you evaluate your value as a candidate.

What's the advantage of this? Once you've identified your credentials, you can determine the skills, training, certifications, or key experiences you lack. Then you can then create a plan to acquire the essential requirements and position yourself for the next job opportunity.

Her full story is on JobsintheMoney.

Do I Need a Resume if I'm Not Looking For a Job? [JITM]

New Online Career Guide

The Web site All Business Schools has launched an career resource guide for accountants that includes advice and career path charts. "The guide provides the information necessary to decide what type of accounting career to pursue and what kind of education is necessary to succeed in the field," the company said in a press release.

It's a bit basic ("What do accountants do?" is one of its areas), but for those considering a move into the profession, either as a student or a career-changer, it's worth a look.

Accounting Career Resource Guide [All Business Schools]

Flooded Returns

On Monday, Scot Pannepacker, partner in the Princeton, N.J., firm of Lear & Pannepacker, was surrounded by more than tax returns. The firm's office overlooks a brook that became more of a river, if not a lake, as a Nor'easter pounded the east coast, flooding low-lying areas even miles inland - like Princeton. "It feels like we're on a boat," he told the Times of Trenton. "Our clients are very sympathetic; hopefully the IRS will be, too, if some payments get missed."

Fortunately, later in the day the IRS said it would, indeed, give taxpayers impacted by the storm an additional 48 hours to file.

Stranded CPA battles tax deadline [Times of Trenton]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Networking Through the Glass Ceiling

Networking is the career strategy that never ends, Christine S. Birnbaum, director of human resources at New York Life Investment Management, recently told the Accounting Society at Baruch College:

In regards to the glass ceiling, Birnbaum said, "Networking does not end in college. You have to take risks in your career and diversify to succeed." Diorio also added that each person must make him or herself indispensable. "Each person must seek out opportunities especially when just starting out a career," said Diorio. Belgrave remarked that bosses will promote people who are visible.

Birnbaum was one of a panel of women financial executives who spoke at an even marking Women's History Month.

History came alive by way of these Hall of Fame attendees [The Ticker]

Can You Say 'Denial'?

I often think we in the financial business are too complacent about the demand for our services. Then along comes a tidbit like this:

Nearly half (48 percent) of all non-retired adult Americans expect to retire with a pension, according to a new poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

"Despite all evidence to the contrary, pensions are still regarded as a safety net for retirement," said Carl George, CPA, Chair of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. "Americans have to understand that many of the entitlements of their predecessors are not guaranteed. It is up to them as individuals to prepare for retirement. Otherwise, they may find themselves working far longer than they had intended."

So maybe I should be thinking more about evolving roles. As in, CPAs, wealth managers and the like moving from being "trusted advisors" to "lifeguards" to "emergency medical technicians…"

American Adults Still Expect to Retire With a Pension, According to AICPA Survey [AICPA via PRNewswire]

Demographics Shift

Relaxed? Comfortable? Take a look a this.

(Thanks, Carol Gray)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Trends in Maine

The shortage of accountants is being felt in Maine, as well as more populous states. From the Portland Press Herald:

In short, Maine has an above-average concentration of workers in occupations that tend to pay less than the "all-business" average salary.

For the nine occupations for which Maine has a below average share, on the other hand, average salaries are much higher -- $56,800 in Maine and $62,700 in the U.S. By far the largest component of this subcategory is accountants and auditors. These occupations provided nearly 3,100 jobs in Maine, 15 percent of the "business operations" category, compared to 19 percent for the U.S. as a whole. In the other elements of this subcategory -- management analysts and human relations specialists -- Maine has relatively few jobs.

The conclusions are clear. If we are to increase our incomes statewide, we must seek not merely to increase our job creation generally but to increase our job creation in high-skill, high-wage occupations. The reasons for our overrepresentation in lower paying occupations undoubtedly lie, at least partially, in the heritage of our natural resource and small business

More high-skill, high-wage jobs sorely needed [Portland Press-Herald]

Sunny Counts

The improbably named Flip Flippen, a Texas psychotherapist and business coach, thinks an often-overlooked key to success is the ability to eliminate negative behavior. He - and his strategies for becoming a more positive boss - are profiled by Investor's Business Daily's Gloria Lau.

Help People In The Office Lighten Up [IBD via Yahoo! Finance]

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bert N. Mitchell of Mitchell & Titus

Myra Thomas spoke with Bert N. Mitchell, chairman and chief executive of Mitchell & Titus, the largest African-American controlled accounting firm in the U.S. and a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited. He has decades of experience in accounting, and a lot to say about opportunities for minorities and what up-and-comers need to think about. A sampling:

Many of the issues relating to a lack of African-American or minority professionals are deeply rooted at the middle school and high school level. More emphasis needs to be placed on enhancing math skills in primarily ethnic-minority public schools systems. Young people need to be made aware that having a career in accounting is an option. So, we have to reach out to students at the junior high and high school levels to give them exposure to the profession. The fact of the matter is that there are huge opportunities and great demand for talent, and we need to demonstrate to minority students that there are opportunities for them in the field of accounting.


(As) you advance in accounting, you start managing more than just the numbers. You have to manage people. Therefore, anyone who wants to advance in the profession should consider broadening their education with advanced degrees in business. It would also be helpful if they gained knowledge of how to analyze human behavior. Furthermore, rising accounting professionals should consider taking on leadership roles within professional societies such as the AICPA and state CPA societies. These types of roles can be very rewarding and provide a venue to demonstrate one’s commitment to the profession.

Q&A: Mitchell & Titus CEO Bert N. Mitchell [JITM]

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CPA Pipeline is Growing

If California is any indication, the demand for CPAs will ease as more students graduate from accounting programs and gain experience in the real world.

With six weeks remaining before its May 1 application deadline, the master's programs in accounting and taxation at the University of Southern California's Leventhal School of Accounting had received 430 applications, a 36 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, applications to Leventhal's accounting masters program rose more than 40 percent. Undergraduate enrollment now stands at more than 300 students, a slight increase over last year but significantly above the before Sarbanes-Oxley became law.

At the Craig School of Business at California State University - Fresno, the number of undergraduate and graduate accounting majors is also up.

Leventhal will accept between 130 and 140 applicants this year, up slightly from last year to address rising interest. Competition is fierce for acceptance. Applicants must have solid grounding in accounting and business, as well as good grades. Required classes include introduction to financial accounting and management accounting, finance and basic economics. An increasing number of Chinese and other foreign students have enrolled in recent years as many large companies have expanded their interests globally and other governments have bulked up their corporate oversight laws.

The full story's on JobsintheMoney.

Solution to CPA Crunch is On-Campus [JITM]

Keeping Coolness in Check

When you're looking for a job, you're marketing yourself. And part of marketing is packaging. So as you polish yourself to appear stolid and serious, dependable, pleasant - you know, the kind of person someone would like to hire and spend tax season with - be sure to sweat the details.

Finding that perfect snarky, witty, oh-so-cool nickname to attach to your e-mail address, the one that fits you like your fave jeans, can be a creative coup. But alas, for job-seeking, the hip moniker might be a career killer.

A new study finds that electronic resumes linked to job candidates with quirky and “unprofessional” e-mail names are rated lower by potential employers than those with professional names.

Hip e-mail addresses bad for resumes [LiveScience via MSNBC]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Few Reminders About Good Behavior

Sure, none of us would ever embarrass ourselves in such a public way that we'd become online legends. We're all serious business people, after all. So be sure you consider the candidate who took a dive off Chelsea Piers in New York in front of partners of the law firm she wanted to work at. Or, the one who got so drunk at a company function she, well - we won't go there. These and other horror stories - I mean "cautionary tales" - are in the New York Daily News.

Career nosedives: A little splash of fun today can sink job prospects [NY Daily News]

A New Rub for Job-Hunters

For some reason, this article in The Wall Street Journal bugs me. Joann Lublin writes about the influence executive coaches can have over hiring managers.

Welcome to the latest development in job hunting. You impressed the recruiter, treated the receptionist politely and bonded with the hiring official. Now, you must also pass muster with the executive coach for your likely boss. The rising popularity of such additional screening reflects management's increased use of coaches and its worries about the high turnover among new hires.

Coaches can offer "an objective perspective on the candidate as well as on the potential candidate's fit," says Ben Dattner, a New York industrial and organizational psychologist. He has interviewed staffing prospects for four executives. And the extra hoop can have an added benefit for the job seeker "because an executive coach can describe what this new boss will really be like," suggests Marilyn Machlowitz, a New York recruiter....

As always, Lublin suggests tactics for dealing with a coach who can be, in many ways, a surrogate decision-maker.

Now, Add One More To the Hiring Process: The Boss's Coach [WSJ - $]

Speaking Your Boss's Language

How do you get your boss to move in directions you want him to? Last month, Carol Lippert Gray gave us some tips on how to "manage up," and now she's back with a couple of case studies. The bottom line: It's all about communication. (There's that word again.)

Managing Up: True Life Tales [JITM]

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Maybe It's Worse Than You Think

So, you decided not to proofread your resume. It's understandable - you're so busy. And who's going to hold one wrong letter against you?

Well, the guy reading the resume, for one.

Don't believe me? See for yourself at Resume Hell: Dumb Stuff I Read on Resumes, a blog by an anonymous recruiter who says "Do I make them up ? Why do I need to. C'mon, you know people like this."

Check it out. Then go proofread your resume. And your cover letter.

The Benefits of Focus

Rhonda Abrams writes on the Gannett News Service:

I'm a firm believer that the road to success for small companies is through specialization. A local hardware store has a hard time competing against home improvement big-box retailers, but if you specialize in unique knobs and fixtures, you can build a national clientele. It's tough to get started as an accountant, but if you market primarily to health-care providers, you can stand out.

It's a great article about the benefits of focusing your practice.

Find your niche with a specialty business [Gannett via CourierPost Online]

Don't Get Complacent

James Rubin writes from California:

Financial professionals need to be more aggressive job seekers, says one executive recruiter. "The war for talent is still on and getting larger," Paul Herrias told two groups in California recently. "This is your chance to get ahead."

Many financial professionals have become complacent because they hold solid jobs and don't believe it's worth the risk to make a change, Herrerias said in outlining a plan to follow to a new job. Among his suggestions: Network furiously and be willing to "sell yourself." Networking, he noted, involves staying current on industry trends and speaking not only with recruiters but also competitors and customers who may have jobs or leads to other organizations.

See James's full story on JobsintheMoney.

California CPAs Urged to Be Aggressive [JITM]

Monday, April 09, 2007

More on Outsourcing

I'll let this one speak for itself:

When Control Solutions, one of the biggest accounting firms in the US dealing with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) accounting compliance procedures, wanted to recruit accountants for its expanding practice, it looked at Enabilizer, a New Delhi-based accounting outsourcing firm.

The two signed a joint venture agreement on February 22 that allows Control Solutions to outsource its SOX work to the Indian JV.

Accounting firms eyeing India [Business Standard]

Intuit Reports on Accounting's Hourly Rates

Software developer Intuit - maker of QuickBooks - says accountants are charging more. According to its Intuit’s 2007 ProConnection rates survey...

...average rate increases ranged from $1 to $10 per hour. Non-software business consulting and software installation services garnered the highest average hourly rates of $95 and $86 respectively, showing increases of 12 percent and 7 percent.

For the first time ever, the survey showed how Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors' rates compare to those of their peers. According to the survey, Certified ProAdvisors’ average rate for bookkeeping is $60 per hour versus $48 for bookkeepers who are not CPAs or ProAdvisors. The highest hourly rate for bookkeeping is held by CPAs at $71 per hour.

Self-serving, but interesting.

Intuit Survey: Accountants' Hourly Rates Up [WebCPA]

Not Getting What They Want

Another survey on the challenges of finding and keeping good accounting talent. This one is the CCH Young Accounting Professionals Survey, and it found that for all their talk, many firms still aren't doing what they need to do in order to keep younger accountants on board. The devil's in the details, as they say, and the details are here.

Understanding How to Attract, Retain & Motivate Young CPAs [AccountingWEB]

Friday, April 06, 2007

An Unusual Option

An item in the Springfield, Mass., Republican caught our eye: Michael G. O'Reilly, the head of the local FBI office, is leaving the Springfield to become a field agent in Connecticut.

A certified public accountant, O'Reilly joined the bureau nearly 20 years ago when he was 28. He worked as a field agent in offices from Knoxville, Tenn., to Newark, N.J., before being transferred to Washington, D.C., to work in the corruption division there.

So, maybe you want to work for the government but the IRS isn't your cup of tea? O'Reilly's story show what understanding numbers can do.

FBI official to leave job [The Republican]

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Life is Good

At least according to the SmartPros salary survey.

CPA-certified respondents who participated in the SmartPros Salary Survey reported an average salary of $91,608. This is a 9 percent increase over what CPAs reported in last year's SmartPros Salary Survey ($84,051).

And here's an interesting tidbit: Some 72 percent of the CPAs who took the survey said they're not looking for a new job.

Salary Survey Results: The CPA Difference [SmartPros]

More Than Numbers

Technical skills are nice, but if you really want to move up you should pay attention to your communication and people skills, too. In recruiting and HR parlance, these are often called "soft skills," and their increasing importance reflect both changing demographics and the changing nature of an accountant's job.

Jim Cote of Accounting Management Solutions, a New England provider of accounting, financial management and recruiting services, says skills like writing and presenting persuasively "are what enable leaders to educate and lead." And, he says, “greater use of information technology helps get the job done ... but that means the people you bring on board must have broad and deep technical skills. They also must be able to work with a wide range of people, which is where soft skills become critical.”

This is all out of a press release, but they're really good points.

Financial Professionals Need Technical and Soft Skills, According to AMS [AMS]

Opportunities for Accountants in Retail

Retail companies, large and small, are looking for accounting professionals, writes Scott Krady:

Professionals with a successful track record in retail are tough to find. "It's difficult to recruit someone from another firm because employers are desperate to retain, and pay top dollars to do so," says Al Ferrara, Partner at BDO Seidman in New York. Further reducing the talent pool has been industry consolidation. The Federated-May merger in 2005 eliminated jobs while KKR's proposed deal to acquire Dollar General may have a similar effect. "

Retailers Need Accounting Managers [JITM]

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nick Danger, CPA

The notion of a CPA turned private investigator - in the Sam Spade sense, not the forensic accounting sense - is getting a lot of play as NBC hypes its new sitcom, Andy Barker, P.I.

Andy Barker (Andy Richter, "Elf") is a simple man. He works as an accountant, lives in a quaint suburban colonial and drives a Saturn - all in a little slice of American monotony known as Fair Oaks. His loving wife packs his lunch every day and even in the most frustrating situations, the most you'll ever hear him mutter is "Cheese and crackers!" He talks pleasantly, nods cordially when you greet him and always uses his turn signal - even while being tailed by the Russian mob. And that last one is a problem because, you see, Andy Barker is a detective.

Could it do for accountants what NYPD Blue did for cops? What Lost did for castaways? Stay tuned.

A Day Job with Attitude [Michigan Daily]

Checking a Firm's Policies on Balance

If you're interviewing for a new job, Mark J. Koziel, a CPA and senior technical manager for the firm practice management community of the American Institute of CPAs, suggests five things to consider at interviews if work-life balance is important to you:

Are there accountants on staff who are availing themselves of a flexible schedule?

Is the firm's approach to work-life balance is more than lip service?

Is it an initiative of HR or does the entire firm - including the top partners - buy into the policy?

See if the employee handbook or other official company publications address the issue.

Make sure young accountants and mid-career folks, as well as partners, can take advantage of flexible schedules.

Find out if the more flexible scheduling approach applies to men as well as women. This helps indicate if the policy is truly set in stone.

Dropping CPA Supply Pressures Balance Debate [JITM]

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rocky Road to the CFO's Office

Controllers who aspire to the CFO's office should be warned: Most companies outside your own don't view you as a candidate for the top finance job. CFO magazine says last year only four percent of the 190 new Fortune 500 CFOs hired had been sitting controllers.

Outside controllers aren't prime candidates for finance-chief spots because they lack leadership experience, says Korn Ferry managing director Charles Eldridge. Most controllers haven't done much in the way of presenting their cases in front of constituents like the board, Wall Street analysts, and large investors and instead focus on communicating behind closed doors, adds Eldridge.

On the other hand, of the 310 companies that promoted their own executives to CFO's office, 33 percent were inside controllers. Elridge said that demonstrates strong succession planning inside those firms.

Many observers attribute the dynamic to our old friend Sarbanes-Oxley, which they say has focused many controllers so strongly on compliance, they've lost their attraction as higher, more strategic executives.

CFOs Wanted: Controllers Need Not Apply [CFO]

Moonlighting in Miami

Speaking of real life, Jay Korngold is a partner in Mallah, Furman & Co., who conducts forensic audits and isn't intimidated by Sarbanes-Oxley. He also plays a mean guitar, and he plays it in bands with a lot of other business leaders in South Florida. Ah, the Baby Boomers are growing up.

Playing blues brightens accountant's day [Miami Herald]

Portrait of the CPA as a Working Man

There's a nice profile in the New York Post of Jack Cohen, a New York City CPA. You may not find huge amounts of career insights here, but there's certainly a lot of reality:

We work hard. This is not H&R Block. We have a sophisticated clientele and they expect good work. It can get tedious. I wouldn't call accounting a glamorous profession, but it takes care of my family. And I like helping people. The best feeling is when I hear someone say, "I didn't know I could deduct that."


In college I wanted to be a sports announcer. I used to do interviews for the Brooklyn College radio station. I would bring my tape recorder and microphone to Nets games and do play-by-play, trying to get good as announcer. But I felt like that wasn't a way to earn a living. In school a few accounting majors showed me that being a CPA would be a way to make a good living, and I went with that.

How's this compare to you? Post a comment.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Oregon Firm Expands by Offshoring

An article about Aldrich, Kilbride and Tatone's growth strategy, from the Salem, Ore., Statesman Journal:

Growing a business isn't what makes AKT different. It's how and where they are doing it that makes the numbers add up. The Oregon firm has bypassed traditional business outsourcing in favor of a model that fits better with its entrepreneurial spirit and career-building goals. In 2003, AKT made a direct investment in India by establishing two local offices and hiring a full-time year-round staff. Heading into a fourth tax season, business processes between India and Oregon have been increasing in efficiency and creating sustainable careers for employees regardless of location.

One of the results:

In 2006, the India staff prepared 1,000 tax returns, 700 of which were AKT clients and the remaining 300 for an affiliate in Austin, Texas. AKT's domestic staff reviewed and filed the returns and maintained client contact and relationships. "The goal was to limit everyone to 50-hour workweeks, and the result helped AKT enjoy another busy season," Tatone said.

Salem company goes global []

You're Not Networking

Our poll on JobsintheMoney last week was about alumni networks - Do you use yours, or not? The results surprised me: Less than 14 percent (13.8 percent to be precise) reach out to their fellow alumni in the course of managing their careers. More than 79 percent don't. And 6.9 percent didn't graduate from college.

So, my observations and suggestions:

Eric Mokover, associate dean, career initiatives, at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, says an alumni association is "the single most important facility to enable students to get jobs and for companies to recruit successfully." He notes that "alumni have a real emotional connection to the school and therefore are going to work harder in a place where they know what the quality's about." See the whole story on this here.

In general, I've a funny feeling that a lot of people aren't paying enough attention to networking. You know, it never hurts to having lunch, coffee or a drink after work with someone for no reason except "because." It's how networks are made.

And I think networking is a huge part of any career - It helps you in your current job, and helps you learn about and take stock of new opportunities. So, below is a selection of articles we've published on the subject.

Don't Underestimate Your Alumni Network [JITM]
Ask the Expert: Reaching Beyond Company Networks [JITM]
Position Yourself for a New Job - Discreetly [JITM]