Monday, June 30, 2008

New Transaction Advisory Chief for Grant Thornton - Boston

Some moves by Grant Thornton in Boston: Paul A. Beecy was promoted to partner-in-charge of the office's Transaction Advisory Services – Tax group, and Fred Astrauskas was hired as executive director of Transaction Advisory Services.

Beecy is a CPA with experience in U.S. corporate tax advising on financial services matters and cross-border mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and other issues. He received an MSc in accounting from Northeastern University and a B.S. in finance from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Astrauskas is also a CPA, specializing in financial due diligence. He received a B.S. in business administration from Northeastern University.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Would you Retire to Avoid the Switch to IFRS?

If you were an accounting professor, would you alter your lesson plans to include International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), or would you retire early to avoid the bother?

That's the question raised by Victoria Erhart in a column at BloggingStocks:

Currently, accounting degree programs in the U.S. are defined by the requirements for the CPA exam, which does not require familiarity with IFRS. American accounting faculty, overall an older group, teach from textbooks geared towards the CPA exam. Unless and until the SEC actually publicly states a date by which U.S. companies can or must shift to IFRS, nothing will move. Potential accountants will not be exposed to IFRS as part of the curriculum. The CPA exam will not require familiarity with IFRS. Present accounting faculty will not change their course syllabi or textbooks to include IFRS. Many may opt to retire rather than retrain and redesign their courses. Lead time for publishing a new textbook is at least two years, often longer. Who will write the new textbooks?

She's immediately blasted by Professor Cynthia Sneed who responds that the "old" professors will manage somehow.

If you're thinking of reading up on IFRS, head to, where you'll find there are 397 books with the words "International Financial Reporting Standards" in the title.

Women in Accounting

In an article looking at the glass ceiling women often bump up against, the Long Island Business News features Dana H. Marti, partner in the Woodbury, N.Y., office of Marks Paneth & Shron:
“It was always my goal to become a partner in a public firm, and I never felt that I was held back because I am a woman,” Marti said. “The management of CPA firms are business people. If you work hard and you make money for the firm, they are not going to hold you back.”
There's more about women and accounting here.

Little Compliance Hiring in Chicago

While compliance jobs at all levels abound in New York, San Francisco and other parts of the U.S., in Chicago the market remains sluggish.

A report from the Windy City.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We'll Say it Again: Words Count

A career in finance presupposes that you're good with numbers. To get ahead, you have to be good with words, too. That's not to say you have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald, but you do have to convey your thoughts, plans and data clearly, concisely and in a jargon-free style that any audience can understand. Plus, you want to write in a way that makes you look good.

Here's our advice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Business Students Like E&Y

Ernst & Young was the no. 1 pick of potential employers, according to Universum USA's 2008 survey of 40,000 undergraduate business students. The firm's happy to tell you about it in this press release. [E&Y via PRNewswire]

New Ohio Leader for RSM McGladrey

RSM McGladrey named Ron DeGrandis the leader of its Ohio practice, which includes a staff of 160 in Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Columbus. Details on his background, and those of other area executives, are here. []

Standing Out from the Competition

What are the likely trends in the California job market for the remainder of 2008? What should job seekers be doing to boost their prospects - in the short and long terms?

Here's what we found.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Boston's Vitale Caturano Expands

Vitale Caturano is leasing 22,000 more square feet at its headquarters in Charlestown, Mass., next door to Boston. Once the expansion is completed in August, the firm will occupy 91,000 square feet on four floors of it building, which is close to the Charlestown waterfront. The firm, New England's largest regional CPA firm, now has 370 employees.

Vitale Caturano Announces Major Expansion []

New CFO at KBR

KBR - which you hear a lot about in the news lately because of its work in Iraq - has named T. Kevin DeNicola as its senior vice president and chief financial officer. He'll oversee the company's treasury, accounting and finance, investor relations, tax and internal audit operations. Previously, he was CFO at Houston-based Lyondell Chemical Company.

DeNicola holds an MBA from Rice University and a M.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia. He's a CPA and a member of the board of directors of Comerica, Inc. where he serves as vice chairman of the audit committee.

Here's a press release.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Federal CFO Viewpoint

Being two-faced may be a slur, but saying a federal Chief Financial Officer is four-faced is quite the compliment. The Federal CFO Insights radio program says federal government CFOs balance four faces: steward, operator, strategist and catalyst.

To learn how they do that, you can listen to online replay of the program's interview with United States Patent and Trademark Office CFO Barry Hudson.

Deloitte Principal (and former Office of Personnel CFO) Christopher Young talks to Hudson about how CFOs balance the more traditional finance reporting role with that of a strategist focused on contributing value to the overall organization.

While you’re at the site, you can download prior programs including one on GSA's Federal Greening Acquisition and Buildings Initiatives and another featuring Department of Energy CFO Steve Isakowitz discussing why federal CFOs are spending so much time on talent management.

IIA and Deloitte Team to Teach Fraud Control

The renewed focus on protecting stakeholder interests is the motivation for a new set fraud control seminars from the Institute of Internal Auditors and Deloitte.

IIA will roll out the nine-course program over the next two years. First up is a seminar on Fraud Awareness for Chief Audit Executive and Management offered in Palm Beach in August and Las Vegas in November.

Topics include fraud trends, using technology to detect fraud, maximizing benefits of internal fraud investigations, fraud risk management capabilities and defining a COSO-consistent approach for fraud risk management (COSO being the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission).

Coming up in 2009, IIA will offer: Developing a Fraud Risk Management Program; Advanced Fraud Auditing Using Computer-Assisted Techniques; and Introduction to Fraud Auditing.

Webinars round out the entire series of educational offerings, with selected content also offered as half-day sessions for audit committees.

A Prize for Achieving Balance in Your Life

If you’re using your accounting knowledge to better the world and still manage to balance your work and life, you could be the next winner of the American Society of Women Accountants Education Foundation’s Balance Awards.

The Foundation is seeking nominations for the seventh annual Balance Awards, which honor outstanding companies and individuals for their commitment to work/life balance.You can nominate your company for an Industry Award or yourself or a colleague for an Individual Achievement Award.

“Past winners of our Individual Awards program include a CPA who furthered her knowledge by becoming one of Texas’ top tax law attorneys, accountants and financial professionals who have worked within their community to provide financial literacy and who have shared their story about how they managed to overcome a particular work/life balance issue that they faced,” says ASWA Executive Director Lee Lowery.

In the entry, you highlight career achievements, the way you use your financial expertise within the community, how you manage work/life balance challenges and your relationship with ASWA, if any. The deadline for submissions is June 30th.

The Industry Awards typically go to corporate accounting departments, accounting firms or businesses that support the accounting industry, such as banks, employment and consulting services, or financial software firms.

AWSA chooses local, regional and national winners in August and presents the awards at its 2008 conference in late October.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

From Ladder to "Lattice"

Structuring work in a way that helps employees own their career paths has long been a tool through which the Big Four cope with the profession's chronic talent shortage.

In a fresh variation on the long-running theme, an article from WebCPA explains how Deloitte aims to replace the old-fashioned "corporate ladder" with a new-fangled concept it calls the "corporate lattice."

Instead of the “corporate ladder,” the career metaphor at Deloitte is the “corporate lattice,” with its horizontal and vertical dimensions, said [vice chair and chief talent officer Cathy] Benko: “We want people to be where they want to be, instead of the only place they can be.”

Retention Strategies: Please don't go! [WebCPA]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CPA-Lawyers Find Growing Opportunities

There's hot demand for CPAs in New York and New Jersey who can also put out the shingle with the Esquire moniker. The combination of passing the bar and having accounting expertise can provide a boost up the corporate ladder.

Here's our story.

Accounting Scholarship to Honor Virginia Tech Victims

The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants has established a doctoral scholarship fund to honor victims of the Virginia Tech campus massacre that occurred in April of 2007.

Offered through the VSCPA Educational Foundation, the Austin M. Cloyd and Matthew G. Gwaltney Doctoral Scholarship Fund provides financial support to students pursuing a doctoral degree in accounting at Virginia Tech.

The fund bears the names of members of two Virginia families in the CPA community who lost their lives in the mass shooting. Austin Cloyd was the daughter of Bryan Cloyd, a professor of accounting at Virginia Tech. Matthew Gwaltney was the stepson of Linda Gwaltney, a CPA who is an accounting manager at Philip Morris in Richmond, Va.

The $50,000 fund will award an annual scholarship of $2,500. The first award will be made in spring 2009 for the 2009–2010 academic year. The foundation will continue to actively solicit contributions to grow the fund.

Here is the press release.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

San Antonio Firm Merges With BKD

BKD LLP, among the 10 largest U.S. CPA firms, acquired the Hanke Group, a 70-person accounting firm based in San Antonio, Texas. The combination is effective July 1, according to BKD.

The Hanke Group focuses on real estate, oil and gas, construction, not-for-profit, employee benefits and service industry sectors. The 23-year old firm has eight partners and approximately $12 million in annual revenue. It will adopt the BKD name and Denise Green will be the office managing partner.

"Our immediate plans call for expansion of service lines into community banking and health care institutions, and we look forward to doing this under our new name," Green said.

Here is the press release.

From Public to Private - Accounting, That Is

With demand so high, today's accountants have an enormous number of opportunities to choose from when shifting their career gears. Once you've got some experience under your belt, you can pursue any number of specialties that match your strengths and interests. So how do you plot your direction? In part, the answer depends on where you started your career and where you sit now.

Because the industry faces such a dearth of accounting talent, you can re-think even your most basic decisions, such as whether to work in public or private accounting, whether to put yourself on a management track, or whether to explore options in contract accounting, running your own firm or working for a non-profit entity.

Here's our story.

Blackman Kallick Hires Leaders for SALT, Risk/Compliance Practices

Chicago firm Blackman Kallick has hired Prashant C. Sheth, CPA, as tax partner and practice leader of its State and Local Tax practice, and Steven Baer, CPA, as senior manager and practice leader of Risk and Compliance Services practice.

Sheth has 25 years of accounting experience, including more than 18 years devoted to SALT. He's counseled public and private companies in a range of industries, including manufacturing, retail, finance, service and telecommunications. Before joining Blackman Kallick, he held leadership positions at several national firms, including Ernst & Young, Chicago; PricewaterhouseCoopers, Detroit; and Arthur Andersen, Chicago. He received a Bachelor of Science in accounting and auditing and a Bachelor of Law from MS University of Baroda in Baroda, India, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Baer has counseled public and privately held companies engaged in manufacturing and distribution, retail, consulting and service. His international experience includes Sarbanes-Oxley and internal audit assignments for U.S.-based companies with a foreign presence and foreign companies that are traded on U.S. stock exchanges. Prevously, he worked at Grant Thornton in Chicago. He Baer received a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Michigan State University and is a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Here's the firm's press release, via BusinessWire.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Marketing, Business Travel, and Retention

Marketers are gradually gaining respect from the leaders of CPA firms they work for. But they still have a long way to go. That's the gist of a report on last month's annual conference of the Association for Accounting Marketing, as described by Rob Nance, publisher of AccountingWEB.

Nance saw few CPAs and still fewer managing partners among the several hundred attendees at the San Diego event. He remarked:

These conferences are outstanding opportunities for a firm's managing partner to accompany the marketing director they are sending. Hopefully, someday that will be the norm rather than the exception….

The industry stills seems to be miles away from accepting talented marketing people into the partnership group. However, all three of these gentlemen acknowledged the importance of having marketing directors engaged in partner meetings and on partner retreats. That's a far cry from a decade ago when so many firms were thinking "we need to hire someone to make us some brochures!"
How can marketers build relationships with the corner office? Since some partners won't be receptive, one managing partner on a conference panel advised, "Don't burn your energy - focus on the ones who want your help." That sounds sensible to us.

Another interesting detail in Nance's report involves a simple retention tool that's paying off handsomely for BKD LLP. The Springfield, Mo.-based firm, which employs 1,900 people across 29 locations in 12 states, pays a $50 per night hardship premium for all business travel. That basic step reportedly slashed the firm's turnover rate by a third in the first year, from 25 percent to 17 percent.

So BKD has made the momentous discovery that compensating staff for personal and family time they're required to give up for work is more effective than touchy-feely perks like gym breaks or flextime. Why are we not surprised?

If paying a few extra dollars for each hour consumed by business travel does that much for retention, just imagine what paying more than a token rate for lost personal time would do!

Marketers Unite! [AccountingWEB]

Black Accountants Group Gets Microsoft Commitment

Microsoft Corp. announced a $1 million commitment of cash and software over the next three years to the National Association of Black Accountants Inc. (NABA).

The company hopes to advance NABA's efforts to build a pipeline of African-American talent in the accounting and finance profession, by sponsoring many scholarships and local chapter funds on the West Coast, lending technical training for Microsoft Enterprise products, and providing free software licenses. For example, Microsoft says it will sponsor a significant portion of the Seattle NABA chapter’s scholarship fund and general fund, and its Accounting Career Awareness Program designed to entice high school students to enter the profession.

The $1 million commitment also includes the creation of the Microsoft Innovation in Accounting Technology Award, to begin in 2009, which will reward those NABA members who use or create new technologies that lead to improvements in the accounting and finance professions.

Gwendolyn Skillern, CPA and national president and chief executive of NABA, said,

Partnering with companies such as Microsoft is crucial to help NABA succeed in increasing awareness and creating opportunities for more African-Americans to enter and continue in this great profession.

Microsoft’s $1 Million Diversity Commitment [Press release]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Road Map For Female CFO Aspirants

If you're female and are aiming for the CFO suite at a blue-chip company someday, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is, both statistics and anecdotal evidence show you face long odds (surprise!). The good news is, there are enough big-company female CFOs to draw some generalizations about how they got where they are. And the number of female controllers – a potential steppingstone on the path to CFO – is growing.

Here's our story.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tech Skills Gives CPAs a Leg Up

While CPA firms in New York and New Jersey are beefing up their business advisory and consulting arms, they need more than accounting and business talent. They're looking for business experts who are tech-savvy, and able to understand how IT efforts can benefit accounting and business processes.

Here's our story.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Job Hunt Before You Head to School

Apparently, it's never too soon to start looking for that first-year MBA internship. Some business schools are getting students into job-hunt mode the summer before they arrive on campus, according to a story in this week's Business Week.

That's a smart move for schools, who are appealing to students who've been in the workforce long enough to know that career development and networking are never-ending tasks.

The story had me wondering just how soon is too soon to start looking for your next job. Are today's pre-school classmates tomorrow's great job lead? Did you start looking for that MBA internship in July or October?

C'mon, Look Behind the Curtain

MSNBC explores how companies are using video on their Web sites to show prospective employees what life can be like if they come on board:
Some employers like Ernst & Young see these videos as a way to attract the coveted Generation Y workers who feel comfortable doing everything online. But these testimonials give prospective employees of all ages an inside look at what a job is really like and can even diminish preconceived notions about certain professions.
Here it is.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Accounting Hiring Holds Steady

A new survey from Robert Half shows the accounting job market appears to be holding steady, with employers neither increasing or decreasing their staff. Okay. But this part's interesting:

"Skilled professionals are still in demand," says Keith Feinberg, director of permanent placement services for Robert Half's New York office. "The only chink is that people really need to sell themselves to potential employers."

In today's market, employers are looking beyond technical skills and seeking interpersonal skills, as well. "Two years ago, if you had the skills you were in," says Feinberg. "Now it's are you getting along with everyone, can you grow with the organization, and will you add value to the organization? It's a more competitive landscape and you're competing with more people for the job."

Here's Dona DeZube's story.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More Thinking, Less Bean Counting

Back in 2000, KPMG’s UK affiliate, KPMG Financial Management, made a pretty radical prediction that the finance function would no longer exist in 2010.

A few challenges have come down the accounting pike since then – SOX, tech advances, the rising global economy – and changed the nature of the finance function.

In response to those challenges, says Rodger Hill, partner and head of KPMG UK's Finance Management team:

finance focused much of its efforts and change activity on creating a robust financial control environment and leveraging global cost saving opportunities through the creation of transaction-based shared service centres. As a consequence, finance ended up with less time to undertake its insight role and to proactively drive financial performance.

Now, increasingly aware of this lack of focus, organisations are seeking to recover this lost time by embedding financial controls in technology and refocusing team efforts on enhancing financial performance management.

Or to put it another way, all that time spend extracting financial data has left finance professionals without the skills or capability to add real insight into the business. To do that, they'll need additional training.

For more on the topic, watch a video of Hill discussing the Finance of the Future 2020 white paper, or read the white paper here.

A "Best Place to Work" in the Bay Area

Campbell, Calif., firm Mohler, Nixon & Williams was written up as one of the best places to work in the San Francisco Bay area by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. The firms says the ranking is based on responses to an employee satisfaction survey. MNW was selected in the group of businesses with 101-500, and ranked 42nd.

Here the press release. (Be careful - it may resize your browser.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Compliance is Hot

If you're in compliance and not getting calls from head hunters every week, it's probably only because they don't know your phone number. A Bank Technology News feature story quotes Bank of America Senior Vice President William J. Fox saying: “There isn’t a day that goes by that three or four of my folks don’t get called by a headhunter.”

The feature also reports that large bank chief compliance officers are hitting seven-figure salaries and senior compliance experts are pulling in $300k.

Demand is highest for accountants who can interpret the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering rules, Sarbanes-Oxley and Red Flag guidelines and diplomatically communicate their opinions.

City Outsources Accounting Jobs

Saginaw, Mich., is eliminating four accounting jobs and have the accounting firm Plante & Moran take on their work. The positions were in the city controller's office.
The company, which has 10 Michigan offices, will oversee controller's operations for three years at $225,000 annually. At least two of the company's workers would have offices in City Hall.

The city would save $150,000 annually in personnel by outsourcing the controller's office, City Manager Darnell Earley said. The controller's office keeps tabs on revenues and expenditures for each city department.

City outsources accounting jobs [Saginaw News]

A Good Time to Intern

The overall job market may be tough, but it's a good time to be a college student looking for an internship. CNN Money says companies are using internships as a way to build up their entry-level staffs - and get some work done cheaply. Of course, "cheap" is a relative term: Interns can make thousands of dollars over the summer, since they're making respectable money.

Students are looking for internships even after their first year," said Sheila Curran, executive director of Duke University's career center, noting that 88% of Duke students graduate with at least one internship under their belts. "It's become expected that you'd have at least one internship during college."

Jim Duffy, who just finished his junior year at the University of Notre Dame, had his pick of three offers this summer. An accounting major with a minor in German, he chose KPMG International in part because the accounting firm will send him to its office in Dusseldorf, Germany, for four weeks. He's looking forward to working both with KPMG's clients and employees.

"It's a great way to get experience and to network with professionals at different levels," said Duffy, a Philadelphia native.

KPMG plans to hire 1,500 summer interns this year, and offer jobs to most after they graduate.

Hard to find a job, but not an internship [CNN]

Active Job Search Techniques

Recently Jon Jacobs explained our philosophy of career planning and growth, which can be summed up as "active career management." Now, he has some techniques to help you maximize expected returns from the effort you put into you job search.

Here they are.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

How Demonic Are You?

A study by researchers from Canada's Brock University and Queen's University contends Hollywood has a way of portraying accountants darkly.

...the smartest, most ambitious bean-counters are being demonized as unethical, morally deficient and often criminally inclined. It also determines that accountants depicted on film as happy, principled people tend to be portrayed as incompetent, lacking in motivation or intellectually wanting.
Maybe the Hollywood types are just projecting.

Accountants demonized in Hollywood, study shows []

New Designation for Fraud Experts

Accountants seeking to bolster their forensic and litigation-support credentials have a new option starting this fall, when the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants launches its Certified in Financial Forensics designation.

Here's the details.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Some Firms Help with Fuel Costs

Grossbard & Associates, a 28-employee accounting firm in Houston, is helping its staff cope with rising gasoline prices in the simplest way: It put an extra $50 in their paychecks recently.

Grossbard is among a growing number of employers that are going out of their way to help workers grapple with the increasing cost of getting to and from the office. Companies are launching a variety of relief initiatives such as providing alternate ways to get to work - including purchasing buses and vans to give employees free rides - and changing corporate policies to accommodate workers who travel for their jobs.

What's your firm doing? Let us know by posting a comment.

Commuter relief: Companies help employees deal with fuel costs [Deseret News]

The Place for Me...

Sarah Fuller, author of Job Search Beyond the Big Cities, sees a number of advantages for job-seekers focused on America's more rural areas. She sees professionals with specialized skills - like accountants - as being particularly able to do well beyond the borders of the metropolis. Here's an interview she did with Forbes.

Can A Small Town Help Your Career? [Forbes]