Monday, March 31, 2008

Is IFRS vs. GAAP Already Over?

America needs to stop obsessing over accounting rules minutia and learn to trust accounting professionals to follow standard accounting principles. That’s the gist of what PricewaterhouseCoopers U.S. Chairman and Senior Partner Dennis Nally said in a speech last week at the Union League Club in New York.

Instead of crying over the way that the rest of the world used to use U.S. GAAP because they wanted access to our capital markets, we should be looking at why 100 countries already allow the use of principles-based International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), he said.

“The fact that our present system is characterized by a set of very detailed rules—which inhibit making sensible judgments-is, in my opinion, an important reason why U.S. GAAP is not appealing outside the U.S.,” he said. “Our system has created too much confrontation and suspicion around the key relationship underlying any effective capital markets, and that is the relationship between companies and investors.”

As it turns out, “the notion that financial reporting is grounded in mathematical certainty is a common misperception,” he added.

With remarks list that, we thought you might want to read the rest of his speech, which PwC has posted on its web site (look for the IFRS comments starting about half-way through the text).

Climate Change and You, the CPA

The U.S. hasn't signed the Kyoto accords, but it's a reasonable bet that we'll begin paying more attention to climate change sometime after, say, Jan. 20, 2009. In other countries, accountants are mulling the impact climate accords may have on business. This from the CEO Forum in Australia:
Aligning fiscal policy, accounting and corporate reporting - the traditional pillars supporting the operation of global capital markets - will be critical for the effective operation of a carbon-constrained economy. Until the accounting treatment of the AETS (Australian emissions trading scheme) is clarified, the challenge for corporate Australia is how best to communicate to the capital markets the implications for shareholder value of a carbon-priced environment.
I'm sure we're not the first to make this observation, but a new specialty is taking shape.

Climate change: accounting and tax implications [CEO Forum]

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Help Your Uncle Mop Up

In the banking world, clean-up follows crisis, just as surely as night follows day. So if you’ve been jilted out of commercial, investment or mortgage banking accounting, you’ll find Uncle Sam is staffing up.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) says it’s going to pick up 69 temporary employees and 69 permanent staffers in its division of resolutions and receiverships over the next few months. Those jobs will be based in Dallas, Texas, which became a hot spot for workouts during the late 1980s.

An FDIC spokesperson said they’ll be re-hiring retirees with experience, as well as new employees. Those who know that RTC stood for Resolution Trust Corporation and those who think they’d enjoy unwinding institutions to recapitalizes the deposit insurance fund can check for current openings and register to get emails here.

It stands to reason that the FDIC won’t be the only player in the federal sector in need credit crisis clean up help. You may also want to check in with The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve, the Federal Housing Administration (where mortgage volume has exploded) and the government-sponsored mortgage enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Detroit Firm's Focus is Over the Horizon

Clayton & McKervey serves only middle-market entrepreneurs who want to expand globally. Such focus makes it easy to train employees, but harder to find the accountants it wants: Those who already know both IFRS and GAAP.

Here's our story.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Weekly Roundup is Here

Our latest wrapup of hiring and promotions is online. Read it here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Interview Horror Stories

Mary, a hiring manager in Florida, posted some of the trials she's had to endure as an interviewer as a comment to our story on things not to do during an interview. They're too good not to share here:
I have interviewed probably over 1,000 people over the years. I have been amazed at some of the crazy things people do or say. Here are some memorable ones:

I had several interviews scheduled at a nice hotel lobby (I was traveling to another state to hire and train a branch manager) I walked into the lobby and asked was anyone there for the interview. (someone from the home office had scheduled the interviews and had told them that I would be arriving from location and they would need to introduce themselves and provide me with a resume) Only one gentlemen immediately stood up and introduced himself. I greeted him and sat down and began the interview. 15 minutes later another guy stood up, came over to our table, interrupted the interview and told me off for interviewing out of order. Then he came back again 10 minutes later and interrupted me again, very rudely. Yet he still insisted he wanted to interview. Needless to say he wasn't hired.

People who bring up their sex lives during an interview for retail management.

People who try to bring someone else in the room while they are interviewing.

People who yell or even curse at support staff before or after an interview.... and still expect to be hired.

One guy leaned back and propped his feet on the table during the interview.

One guy didn't realize I was the interviewer and insulted me before he was called to the room. I sent him away.

One guy intervewed very well. I offered him the job and had the discussion regarding salary. He made a request to start at a salary that was at the top of the scale for that position. After discussion with my VP, I agreed and made him an offer at that salary point. He readily agreed and wanted to start right away. However, the next day I received a phone call from the receptionist at the corporate office. He had called and ask to speak with the male who had scheduled the interview, because he wanted to discuss his salary with him. (Incidently, the male was a parttimer who came in to do phone work.) He felt that as a guy he could obtain a salry bump (before working a day) by bypassing me. I decided to rescind his job offer immediately.

and the list could go on for hours..LOL
Six Things Not to Do During an Interview [JITM]

California Firms See Hiring Throughout 2008

Three of the country's largest and fastest growing firms - all California-based - say they anticipate adding both entry-level and experienced accountants during the remainder of the year. Armanino McKenna, Stonefield Josephson and Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt each expect to hire at least 20 new CPAs in 2008, including multiple accountants with at least two or three years experience.

Read our story.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

One Heck of a Holiday

Would you take a 20% discount on your salary if you knew it would lead to a one-year paid vacation after five years on the job? That’s the deal St. George Bank in Australia offered its 9,000 workers, according to a story from

Only a half-dozen employees took that offer. Another more popular program provides 10 weeks of vacation in exchange for a pay discount. About 500 employees have signed up for that.

Maybe the employees don’t expect they’ll still be there in five years. Maybe the employees don’t expect the bank to will still be there in five years -- can’t you just see an acquisition leading to an HR professional saying, “You think we owe you how much leave?” Or maybe, none of the employees know what they’d do with a whole year off.

Changing Landscape?

The way international accounting firms present themselves - as separate, loosely affiliated firms with no real responsibility for each other's actions - may have to change, writes Floyd Norris in the New York Times.
Some courts are cutting through the legal barriers - as one appeals court did in Florida this week - even as the big auditing firms find it necessary to impose controls and international coordination on their various affiliates. The firms need to assure that international accounting rules are interpreted the same way in London as they are in Frankfurt and Tokyo, no matter how many legally separate partnerships are involved.
The bottom line, he says: Accounting firms may have to change the way they're structured.

Global or Local? For Accounting Firms, It All Depends
[NY Times]

Show Up, Show Off, Get On The Team

Globalization and increased regulation are making business more complex and causing multifaceted challenges for large and mid-sized businesses. To face them, more companies are creating cross-functional teams that include professionals from a variety of disciplines. This means opportunity for candidates who can be effective team players as well as great technicians.

Here are some tips.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Wanted: People People

Hiring managers and career experts often stress how essential communication skills are for advancement in accounting and finance. So, can it be a blunder to assert in a job interview that you're a "people person" and not a "numbers person"?

Bill Kennedy posed that question recently in his "Energized Accounting" blog on AccountingWeb. His starting point was a March 14 Toronto Globe and Mail story that ran down a list of "boneheaded" interview gaffes. One of them was "An accountant who insisted she was a 'people person' and not a 'numbers person.'"

That isn't necessarily a bad thing, in Kennedy's view – or ours. Of course, any accountant's first responsibility is getting the numbers right. But the idea that a "people person" accountant is a square peg in a round hole, strikes us as an outgrowth of the outdated stereotype of accountants as green-eyeshade types who churn out obscure reports and don't influence an organization's broad mission or strategy.

Kennedy writes:

Looked at from a broader perspective, the accounting profession needs more people people, i.e. accountants who focus on getting the message across to other people. I agree that getting the numbers right is our first priority, but what good are accurate financial statements if their message is not understood by the organization’s stakeholders?

Even in a highly technical area like accounting systems (Kennedy's own specialty), "we need good trainers, planners, implementers and project managers, all of which require excellent communications skills," he notes.

Accountants can be People People [AccountingWeb]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Weekly Roundup

Lots of hiring's going on in the Baltimore-Washington area. Details are in our weekly roundup.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Note on Networking

Debra Feldman, a job-search consultant who operates as The Job Whiz, writes with some words on networking. Even if you're not looking for a job, it's important to maintain and develop the relationships that could lead you to a new position one day. (Debra notes that over 70 percent of new hires stem from personal recommendations - not the Internet, not a headhunter, not other means.) She suggests:
Design and build a network tailored to your career objectives. Establish connections to hiring decision makers, industry thought leaders, respected academics and other authorities in your field who frequently are asked to recommend candidates for openings in your industry.

Once you are connected, nurture the relationship emphasizing two-way communication. Networking is not a transaction-based experience but a long term investment developing meaningful and credible relationships. Maintain your networking contacts regularly through written correspondence, telephone communication and inperson meetings so you stay top of mind. Of course, it’s awkward to reach out when you are needy; that’s why it is important to stay in touch by exchanging ideas, information, and leads outside of job searching mode.
She's got some other interesting articles on her Web site, including an interesting take on "being a passive candidate."

CPAs Eyes Jobs as Recruiters, Consultants

For many New York-New Jersey CPAs, saying goodbye to the 80-hour work week entails leaving their corporate, Big Four or regional firm to pursue jobs at small consulting firms, specialized recruiters, and others.

Here's the story.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Deadly Accounting

Nothing makes your nice, quiet accounting job seem like a good idea faster than reading about someone with a deadly accounting job. writer Adam Piore’s profile of PricewaterhouseCoopers forensic accountant Al Vondra starts with what may be the greatest opening sentence ever used in an accounting story: “People don’t normally try to kill you for doing their taxes, but forensic accounting is a whole different ball game.”

If consulting for the U.S. Justice Department in Cleveland really is as exciting as makes it sound, it’s probably time for someone to follow John Grisham’s lead and write a best-selling accounting thriller.

Get the plot for your first novel by reading the full story at:

Not Here... But There

The Israeli accounting firm Kost, Forer, Gabbay and Kasierer - Ernst & Young (Israel) is reportedly mulling lay-offs because of the turmoil in the U.S. financial markets, though the firm denies the rumors. Who knows whether or not it's true. It just struck me: When's the last time you saw a headline about layoffs from an accounting firm?

Top accounting firm faces possibility of lay-offs
[Globes Online]

Friday, March 14, 2008

Social Networks and You

You may not find your next job by hanging around on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you sure can raise your professional profile.

Here's a Story.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Weekly Roundup

Our roundup of promotions, new hires and mergers is now online. Click here.

Focus on Mobility

The AICPA is focusing on easing mobility laws that allow CPAs to practice in multiple states. The group's president, Barry Melancon, told WebCPA the issue is "a priority for us and we're putting a lot of resources into it." To date mobility bills are in place in 12 states, and legislation in 22 others. Melancon also said the AICPA is encouraging more colleges to expand their accounting educations programs.

AICPA Advances CPA State Mobility [WebCPA]

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Few Women See Financial Workplace Gains

Nearly all women in working finance believe they are paid less than men for the same work, and most don't feel they've made much progress when it comes to issues of parity.

Here's the story.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

IRS Was First on Spitzer's Trail

The investigation that led to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's troubles began not with prosecutors, not with the FBI, but with investigators in the Hauppauge, N.Y., offices of the IRS. Writes William K. Rashbaum in the New York Times:
The rendezvous that established Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s involvement with high-priced prostitutes occurred last month in one of Washington’s grandest hotels, but the criminal investigation that discovered the tryst began last year in a nondescript office building opposite a Dunkin’ Donuts on Long Island, according to law enforcement officials.

There, in the Hauppauge offices of the Internal Revenue Service, investigators conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks found several unusual movements of cash involving the governor of New York, several officials said.

The investigators working out of the three-story office building, which faces Veterans Highway, typically review such reports, the officials said. But this was not typical: transactions by a governor who appeared to be trying to conceal the source, destination or purpose of the movement of thousands of dollars in cash, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
And people say IRS work isn't glamorous.

Revelations Began in Routine Tax Inquiry [NY Times]

Corporate Options Abound in N.Y., N.J.

Accountants in the New York-New Jersey area are fast becoming well-respected experts in business issues beyond accounting, and are gearing up for choice spots in the boardroom.

Read the full story.

Monday, March 10, 2008

We Got Another Challenge for You

How well do you know finance and accounting rules and trivia? Our marketing department - always looking for ways to make friends - is offering a chance to test your knowledge and compete against other finance professionals in the JobsintheMoney Accounting Challenge. You could win $1,000. "Hurry," exhorts our Marketing Director Maria. "The Challenge ends on February 22nd!" (You'll need to register for JITM to participate.)

Check out the accounting challenge.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Wanted: Middle Managers

A new report says accounting firms continue to face a particularly acute shortage of mid- and senior-level staff.

Here's the story.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Next: Deloitte Branded Diapers?

How bad is the recruiting crunch? It's so bad Deloitte - along with some industrial and technology companies - is develop high school curricula, packaging it up and distributing it to high school classrooms around the country. Says today's Wall Street Journal:
In a recent class at Abraham Clark High School in Roselle, N.J., business teacher Barbara Govahn distributed glossy classroom materials that invited students to think about what they want to be when they grow up. Eighteen career paths were profiled, including a writer, a magician, a town mayor -- and five employees from accounting giant Deloitte LLP.

"Consider a career you may never have imagined," the book suggests. "Working as a professional auditor."

The curriculum, provided free to the public school by a nonprofit arm of Deloitte, aims to persuade students to join the company's ranks. One 18-year-old senior in Ms. Govahn's class, Hipolito Rivera, says the company-sponsored lesson drove home how professionals in all fields need accountants. "They make it sound pretty good," he says.
The point of all this? To get kids into "the pipeline" that, hopefully, one day gushes with newly minted accountants.

High Schools Add Classes Scripted by Corporations [WSJ]

P.S.: Marketing Crazed Maria gets credit for our headline

Weekly Roundup

Our roundup of accounting mergers and promotions is online. See it here.

A Note from San Francisco

eFinancialCareers says college recruiting trends indicate a healthy job market for financial professionals in San Francisco, at least for now. Although the story focuses on investment and securities professionals, it does contain this note:

Tech companies such as Google and Apple are continuing to hire people with financial backgrounds. However, these companies haven't been immune to the economic downturn. Shares of both, which were high-fliers last year, have slumped by more than 30 percent in 2008.

"Hiring from high-tech companies in the Bay Area remains strong," says Adam Zoia, managing partner at Glocap, a New York-based executive search firm whose clients include private equity funds, hedge funds and investment banks. "There is an ongoing shortage, particularly of accountants and other operational staff, and the market for A-caliber investment professional talent remains tight nation-wide, apart from in select areas which have been hard hit by the recent credit market turmoil."

San Francisco Remains Strong for MBAs [eFinancialCareers]

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More to Work Than Work

There's always discussion about how Millennials, Gen Y'ers, whatever you want to call them view work in a way that's different from us older folks. You know, they want balance and fulfillment and all that. We all complain about it, because we're jealous. In any case,
Says Marian Salzman, a trendspotter and executive vice president at J. Walter Thompson, of Millennial workers: “I don’t think they loathe their jobs. I think they loathe the demands the job puts on them.” A 2004 Northwestern Mutual survey of 1,700 recent college grads found that 73 percent said how they spend their time on the job is more important than how much money they make, while 70 percent said money is not the best measure of success.
Escape From Corporate America [Portfolio]

CFOs See Slowdown in Hiring

Chief financial officers expect hiring activity in accounting and finance to slow during the second quarter, with the great majority seeing no change in their hiring levels at all.

Here's our story.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New Chief of NABA

The Washington Post has an interview with Gregory Johnson, the recently installed executive director of the National Association of Black Accountants.
When you look at the number of African American CPAs in the country, by one estimate there are approximately 6,000. That's about 1 percent of all CPAs. That tells you mentors and role models are probably not there. How many moms have suggested to their kids, become a doctor, become a lawyer? Our motto is "lifting as we climb." We need to work on awareness, what the profession is about, and through that create opportunity for this generation.
Tackling Accounting's Long Racial Division [Washington Post]

North-South Gap in California Salaries

If you're an accountant looking to earn more in California, consider this advice: Head north.

The story's here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Top Accounting Firms

In case you haven't seen it, Financial Week's list of the country's top accounting firms is here.
All told, these companies employ more than 124,000 CPAs who perform work for 7,814 public company clients. The biggest part of their aggregate revenue stream by far is audit and accounting services at $21.2 billion (57%), followed by tax services at $9.4 billion (26%) and management consulting services at $4.3 billion (12%).
The List: Top Accounting Firms [Financial Week]

The Freelance Life

The accounting shortage is giving CPAs who'd rather not settle down a chance to pursue their trade without giving up their independence. Writing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune, Neal St. Anthony looks at the freelance accounting life through the eyes of "veteran accountants and financial analysts" Emmy Perrizo and Debra Deanovic. "No longer are they hostage to reorganizations, a new manager's whims and extra work on nights and weekends just to hang on to their rungs of the corporate ladder," he writes.
"I can count on myself and I don't have to worry about doing some work or some job that I don't want to do," Perrizo said. "In a permanent position, there are fewer options. I had more seniority in some of these consulting positions than anybody on the staff."

These two women work through placement agencies to choose tax, merger, foreign or other projects of their liking, lasting for several months to more than a year. Demand has never been higher in the Twin Cities and nationally for veteran financial analysts, accountants and even information technology professionals at some companies, according to a study released Friday by Robert Half, the placement and recruiting firm.
And, the kicker, to me:
And Salo, another Twin Cities firm that places financial professionals, last month commissioned research with the Minnesota Society of CPAs that revealed that there will be a shortage of about 7,300 accountants in the Twin Cities within several years.

Carrying CPA credentials, these bounty hunters in demand [Star-Tribune]