Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Looking into the Gloom

Accountants have been more or less lucky this downturn: While other areas of finance have been imploding, demand hasn't let up for the likes of CPAs and tax specialists, and increased interest in risk management and compliance have pushed demand for people with accounting skills.

But now comes the latest quarterly survey by the AICPA and the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, reporting:
Expectations for revenue, profits and employment showed their sharpest decline in the survey's history. Half of respondents expect revenue decreases and 55% expect profit decreases. Only 19% expect to be able to hire more employees. That figure was down from 38% in January.
The emphasis is mine. According to the Journal of Accountancy, the survey also found CFOs, CEOs and CPAs working in business and industry aren't very confident in the economic outlook:
  • 36 percent either had or expected to freeze hiring, 31 percent reported layoffs or expected layoffs and/or compensation freezes, and 34 percent had restricted staff travel or planned to.
  • 66 percent of the CPAs said their organization was being impacted by the credit crisis, up from 55 percent in April
  • 8 percent of CPAs expect the economy to begin improving in the first half of 2009.
So, this isn't a tidal wave of bad news but it hints at some trends worth noting. What got my attention: The increasing impact of the credit crisis and the sinking rate of hiring expectations combined with planned or already implemented hiring freezes indicates the corporate finance job market is coming under pressure, like so many other areas of the business world.

Good News for Restructuring Specialists

As the economy drags more firms under, mid-size accounting firms may see a boost in their restructuring business, points out a feature in London’s Financial Times. Will the story be the same here in the United States? Jennifer Hughes writes:

The dominance of the Big Four in traditional accounting work is set to boost mid-tier rival BDO Stoy Hayward as it scoops uprestructuring work they are unable to take on, according to its head.

Simon Michaels, managing partner, said it was more likely that the Big Four firms, comprising PwC, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte, would find conflicts with their regular work, such as audit or advisory, for struggling companies, meaning his group could pick up the pieces.

BDO is working on the administration of Dawnay Day, the property and financial services group, and has taken on the independent valuation of Northern Rock, the nationalised bank. Both are among the biggest projects it has taken on and Mr. Michaels said it had the capacity for more.

"We find ourselves less conflicted than the Big Four so I can only see it going one way with us getting more of the work," he said.

The Big Four audit nearly all FTSE 250 members plus a significant proportion of smaller companies. Many groups will already have a relationship with two or more companies of the four, meaning theycould be ruled out of restructuring work for their clients.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Wheels on the Bus go...

When the economy turns sour, you need to spend extra time looking over your shoulder because that's when people are more prone to blame someone else for problems they have caused, according to a management professor who studies behavior in the workplace.

"We're pretty obsessed with assigning blame in our culture. In the workplace, there usually are more challenges and failures during tough economic times, and because of self-serving attitudes, it's common to want to make sure the blame is on someone else," says Paul Harvey, assistant professor of management at the University of New Hampshire.

"It's a common human tendency for people to convince themselves that they are the cause of the good things but try to assign blame to others when things go wrong," Harvey says. "It's an ego defense mechanism that helps people feel good about themselves."

The history of accounting includes plenty of scapegoating. "For example, Enron fired Arthur Andersen in an apparent attempt to redirect at least some of the blame and criticism being targeted at Enron,” Harvey says. “Not to say Arthur Andersen did nothing wrong, but if the information the auditor receives from the company is flawed, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that the auditor shares in the blame for creating that information. Yes, Arthur Andersen should have been able to catch the deceptive numbers and their subsequent shredding of documents to cover their tracks didn't help their case, but to try to shift blame for lies that originated within Enron is a pretty clear (and fairly desperate) attempt at scapegoating.”

Being personally targeted as a scapegoat can be devastating, whether or not the allegations are true. If you're the target, trying to explain the real cause of and responsibility for the problem may appear as desperate excuses or, ironically, attempts to blame someone else.

And if the person throwing you under the bus happens to be your boss, the situation becomes even more complicated. "When that happens people usually have to stand their ground and hope that, over time, the facts help to vindicate them," Harvey says.

According to the professor, the better approach is to avoid being made a scapegoat by proactively making sure everyone knows your responsibilities and structural limitations beforehand when you see a problem developing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Six Ways to Not Get the Job

If you want to know all the stupid things people do when job hunting, ask Ed Navis. He's been reading resumes for two decades as a human resources consultant to mid-size companies and non-profits. Here are the top six mistakes Navis see job hunters make.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'll See You in Court

Finance-related lawsuits are booming, and criminal charges stemming from the housing and banking sector cataclysms may be coming down the pike. For some accountants, that's good news.

Litigation support has long been a recognized accounting niche. Now, corporations and financial institutions defending against private lawsuits, regulatory probes and indictments will have to ramp up their use of auditors and consultants with sophisitcated accounting skills.

Valuation work is a hot niche already, according to a recent JobsintheMoney story that cites RSM McGladrey and the New York search firm Careers on the Move. It looks to heat up still further, driven not only by litigation, but by tougher regulatory scrutiny and the heightened importance of fair-value accounting.

A potential lawsuit milestone came in October when Bank of America agreed to an $8 billion-plus collective settlement of homeowners' claims against Countrywide, the California-based mortgage lender that B of A acquired earlier in the year. That settlement, which investors in Countrywide mortgage securities also signed off on, provides for modifying the financial terms of potentially hundreds of thousands of individual mortgage loans.

That broad-based settlement "could set the stage for a deluge" of mortgage suits, wrote Andrew Jeffery on the Minyanville blog. The likeliest targets, he says, are two big banks whose subsidiaries wrote the most "option ARMs," a particularly toxic type of mortgage loan. They are JPMorgan Chase (current parent of Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns) and Wells Fargo (which bought Wachovia).

While suits over everything from predatory lending practices to balance-sheet writedowns will clearly propel demand for CPAs with specialized skills, related criminal cases against corporations and individuals will require accountants too – on both sides of the aisle.

The FBI is probing possible fraud related to sub-prime and other securities at 26 firms and the SEC has 50 open investigations, Bloomberg News reported last month. At least 12 former Lehman Brothers executives including Chief Executive Richard Fuld and CFO Erin Callan reportedly have received grand jury subpoenas. According to Bloomberg,

In the Lehman probes, investigators subpoenaed Ernst & Young LLP, Lehman's auditor; U.K.-based bank Barclays Plc, which bought its North American brokerage; and the New Jersey Division of Investments, which runs a pension fund that lost $115.6 million on a $180 million investment in Lehman's $6 billion stock sale in June, according to people familiar with the case.

Also subpoenaed were Putnam Investments LLC, the Boston- based mutual fund firm that oversees about $163 billion and bought Lehman bonds and shares; New York-based fund manager BlackRock Inc., a Lehman creditor; AIG; and New York-based C.V. Starr & Co., run by ex-AIG CEO Maurice Greenberg, according to the people familiar with the probes.

Executive Focus and You

It’s not much of a surprise, but business leaders are paying less attention to workforce issues and more to confidence and risk management. The Wall Street Journal, reporting on a survey conducted over the summer by the Conference Board, says executives are shifting their priorities away from finding and developing talent, succession planning, diversity and labor relations. As the research group’s CEO Jon Spector puts it: “The people-management issues … have moved off the front burner.” Writes the Journal’s Cari Tuna:

The results are even more striking when compared with a similar Conference Board survey a year ago. Then, executives listed revenue growth, profit growth and finding qualified management talent among their top-five concerns. Bolstering corporate reputation and promoting creativity and innovation were in the top 10 last year but fell in the new survey.

In other heartening news to go with your coffee, the Conference Board says the labor market will continue to sink “well into 2009.” It’s another sign the economy’s going to be pressured next year. Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board, explains:

… demand for goods and services in the U.S. is declining, and businesses are responding by aggressively slashing their payrolls. Unfortunately, it seems this environment will persist for several more quarters and business leaders will continue reducing their workforce.

This isn’t about “the sky is falling” and we should all be paranoid about our jobs going away. Accountants, after all, are still in great demand. At the same time, remember everyone - accounting firms and corporate finance offices includes - are looking for ways to save money, or at least not spend money. Approach your job with that in mind. The phrase “work smarter” is way overused, but nowadays it’s a good piece of advice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Niche Trade Finance Business Booms

Are there any hot niches left in finance? Lending for international trade shipments.

Accounting and finance professionals skilled in evaluating credit risk or reviewing import-export transactions should sit up and take note.

Not that trade itself is booming. Quite the contrary: shipping volume is taking it on the chin lately as the whole world plunges into recession. But big global banks' flight from all types of lending is forcing importers and exporters to seek financing elsewhere, says a recent Wall Street Journal story. That's creating a flood of business for various niche trade-finance providers that include small hedge funds and boutique investment firms.

Global trade is a $14 trillion annual business, and 90 percent of it is shipped on credit. The most common mechanisms are letters of credit, factoring of receivables, and loans secured by the goods being shipped. Now that default is on everyone's mind, interest rates and other charges for these loans have climbed sharply, but so have lenders' risks. Says the Journal:

Demand for export and trade finance is so high that the operations of these small firms are being tested to the limit. They have to be careful about who they lend to, even though they are being offered what can seem like extraordinary incentives to make a loan.

Ship Comes In for Trade Financiers [WSJ]

Premium on Valuation Experience

Valuation work is shaping up as a beneficiary of the financial sector's troubles, thanks to increasing regulatory oversight and forced consolidation among banks. Here's our story.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why Your Credit Report Matters

What's true then is even truer now: When you're looking for work, you need to be buttoned up, and that includes having your credit report in good shape. Last year, we published this story by Dona DeZube. In today's economy, it's worth reading again.

More and more companies are checking the credit and background reports of their employment candidates. Before sending in a resume, smart job-seekers should pull their own documents to make sure their information is correct. Here's how you do it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

KPMG Cuts 400 jobs

KPMG has laid off around 400 people nationally, reducing by about 2 percent its workforce of 24,000 people in 80 U.S. offices.

“KPMG’s business remains quite strong,” says company spokesperson Dan Ginsburg. “Clearly, the economy has caused some businesses to delay some discretionary projects. In order to improve efficiencies, we have had some very targeted force reductions.”

Despite the cuts, KPMG is still active in the hiring market. “We continue to recruit on college campuses, as well as in the experienced marketplace for specific skills,” Ginsburg says.

Why recruit and cut at the same time? Ending recruiting can cause problems when the economy turns around. For example, cutbacks during the last recession led to the current shortage of accountants with seven to 10 years experience.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Straw in the (Ill) Wind

A high-end financial headhunter in San Francisco tells JobsintheMoney that his volume of search assignments has suffered "the biggest fastest freeze up" since he entered the business 28 years ago. Paul Herrerias of Stanton Chase recruits for partner openings in CPA firms and senior-level finance slots in corporations. This is a relatively small slice of the hiring market but is considered a strong indicator of larger trends. Here's our story.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fearful Workers Are Staying Put

In job-market sentiment surveys, people who say they expect to remain in their current job are routinely tallied as expressing a pessimistic view of employment conditions. If that strikes you as counter-intuitive, then an article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal should help clear things up.

That "Careers" piece by WSJ reporter Sarah Needleman starts off noting that,

A growing number of professionals are saying "no, thanks" to prospective employers asking them to change jobs.
A newly released survey by Accenture (conducted in mid-September) found just 13 percent of 322 U.S. middle managers said they were actively looking for a job. And 46 percent said it's "risky" to switch employers in the current environment.

Those findings align with anecdotal reports from headhunters, who the WSJ says "are having to work harder just to get professionals to hear out job opportunities they have to offer." One reason employees fear to move: the occasional horror story about someone who left a steady job only to lose their new job shortly thereafter – perhaps even before starting work.

If you're an intrepid soul who is still willing to fish in today's treacherously choppy waters, the WSJ also has several good tips about limiting the danger that jumping to a new boat might capsize your career. They include performing due diligence on the new employer (through a variety of methods – direct questioning, searching news stories and SEC filings, and seeking out past and present employees to get their opinions), and asking for a severance package before coming aboard.

The article's concluding paragraph also struck a chord with me. I've often found that my friends and family usually are clueless about the business world – so their advice, well-meaning though it is, can't be relied on. Says the WSJ:

It's wise to weigh the pros and cons of a job change with a professional career coach or mentor, says (executive coach and recruiter Paula) Marks. "Don't discuss it with friends and family. They bring their own baggage, their own fears."

Hooray, It's Review Time

If you're dreading that upcoming meeting where you and your boss will review your performance (and/or separate meetings you'll hold with your subordinates to review theirs), here's some good news: Performance reviews are valuable tools if used correctly, a number of career experts say.

Our story explains how you can profit from the annual workplace ritual, by turning your weak points to your advantage.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Burr Pilger & Mayer Sets up in Novato

Burr Pilger & Mayer, LLP (BPM) is opening a new office in Novato in Marin County, California. The office is the fifth Bay Area location for the firm, which offers full service accounting, assurance, tax, business consulting and wealth management services.

"We have work space for up to 20 people and we are already actively trying to fill the open positions," said company spokesperson Constance Jorritsma. North Bay business leader Jim Petray will manage the new office.

“Our new location will enable us to better serve our North Bay clients, including an expanding base in the wine, technology and professional services fields,” said Stephen D. Mayer, BPM co-founder and managing partner.

The Novato office will be located at Hamilton Landing Hangers. The firm’s other offices are in San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose and Walnut Creek. Currently, the firm has 350 employees.

Recent firm-wide initiatives include going green in all BPM offices; an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), offering all employees an ownership interest in the firm; and a new joint venture with MacKenzie Communications, a Bay Area marketing communications agency, to form a corporate responsibility and sustainability practice.

‘Previsualization,’ and Practice, Make Perfect

Chad Broadus sent this in:

Want to nail your next interview? Consider a proven technique Olympic athletes have been using for years to achieve a peak performance. It’s called “previsualization,” where you mentally practice a successful event, as realistically and positively as possible, before even leaving the starting line.

Dr. Lynn Joseph, author of The Job Loss Recovery Guide: A Proven Program for Getting Back to Work - Fast!, suggests previsualizing the whole process from interview to post-offer celebration.

…take ten minutes daily to relax, close your eyes, and mentally rehearse a peak-performance job interview. Engage all your senses as if it were a real interview, listening to the questions and giving answers confidently-even receiving an offer. When you do face a real interviewer, you’ll appear as a polished, self-confident professional with a winning attitude.

After each mental rehearsal of an interview, imagine your future self having your ideal job. Imagine it as if you have it now, in minute detail and with all the excitement and satisfaction of accomplishment that you can. Mentally celebrate with your family and friends.

Professional athletes rely on visualization exercises to prepare for their sports events. Mental rehearsal improves confidence and feelings of control, resulting in greater focus and insight in the face of challenge.

Although a natural fit for the interview process, previsualization’s application doesn’t end there. Just think of all the difficult situations that could apply it to, like annual reviews, that meeting with your boss to pitch an idea, meetings with challenging clients.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Avoiding Burnout

As layoffs spread throughout the economy, in coming months more and more staffers will find themselves shouldering added duties formerly handled by axed colleagues.

A post we saw on a blog called Mergers & Inquisitions offers seven useful tips for avoiding burnout when you work 80 to 100 hours per week and may be on call even while away.

Although Mergers & Inquisitions is written for investment bankers, we agree with its anonymous author that many of his tips apply to anyone who spends the majority of their time in an office.

Here's a synopsis of his advice:

1. Take vacations. They can be timed to coincide with the completion of a major deal or project.

2. When not at your desk, exercise, instead of watching TV or surfing the Web. This might require joining a gym that's open 24/7. Major cities have plenty of those, so you needn't worry about racing out of work to get to the gym before 9 p.m. Even while working out, you can still check your Blackberry every 15 minutes for urgent messages.

3. Take mini-vacations. If you can't afford a whole week off, there's bound to be a Saturday when things get slow to break away for a few hours at the spa, or even a day-trip to some lovely out-of-town spot.

4. Live with friends. Having company around during your minimal time outside the office fights burnout and helps you stay away from TV and Web surfing. Sharing an apartment cuts living expenses too.

5. Spend time with non-bankers.

6. Minimize unimportant work.

7. Learn to Say "No." Even if you're the low man or woman on the totem pole, you don't always have to take on every project that gets thrown at you. Mergers & Inquisitions explains:
If you have other looming deadlines that are more important, "I can’t do that right now - I have to finish all these other projects by tomorrow" is an excuse that works well (you can’t do this right away - you need to have been there awhile and established yourself).
And from a strategic standpoint, he adds,
there are diminishing returns to how much you learn with each new project, and you’ll learn that putting in 20% more hours for a 5% higher bonus is often not worth it.
7 Simple Steps to Avoiding Investment Banking Burnout [Mergers & Inquisitions]

Talent Fuels Acquisition in Philly

Doubting that demand for accountants is still high? RSM McGladrey Inc. Director of Business Development Nick Araco tells us that acquiring talent was a driving factor behind the firm’s recent purchase of Simonson, Lipschutz & Fogel PC (SLF) in Philadelphia.

“It’s easier to acquire talent in one swoop, and to complement it with entry-level hiring and one-by-one hiring,” he explained. “This economic unit of McGladrey was a 75-person office four years ago and with this acquisition we have 240 professionals locally.”

The 35 people RSM picked up are only the start. “We plan to expand our experienced- and entry-level recruiting, even given the state of the economy and the job markets,” Araco said.

RSM has seen a fair amount of resumes from folks shed by Big 4 firms and they’re vetting those people carefully. Those looking for a long-term commitment to a full service firm with a global reach and a sophisticated client base are making it through the selection process. “We want to make sure they’re not renting us and we’re not renting them until the Big 4 come back,” Araco said.

RSM has studied the numbers and feels supply and demand will continue to be balanced in job-seekers’ favor. In response, it actively works on ways to keep its Baby Boomer employees engaged, to offer flexible schedules to keep its mid-level career folks working and to groom young talent.

A second motivation for picking up SLF was the firm’s real estate and construction client base. While RSM is big in those areas nationally, it lacked market share in Philadelphia. Acquiring a local firm with RSM’s targeted clients was a win-win for both firms. The locals gain national-level opportunities, while RSM picks up more local clients and additional talent familiar with those industries.

The Philadelphia office will remain at the Center City location where SLF is currently based. RSM ends up with 240 professionals in four regional offices – Blue Bell and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Moorestown, New Jersey and Philadelphia. The SLF acquisition currently makes RSM McGladrey and McGladrey & Pullen the sixth largest firm in the region according to the 2008 Book of Lists.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Boomers Who Refuse to Quit

Recently while reviewing past JobsintheMoney stories, I came across one with a striking message – not in the article itself, but in the seven reader comments published beneath it.

Both the story and the reader reaction dealt with the attitude of employers toward "mature" workers. The thing that struck me was that every one of those reader comments came from a perspective far less cheery than the article's.

The story first appeared a little more than three years ago. Arguing that the aging of America's work force will ultimately force many companies to relax their boycott of older job applicants, the article cited soothing comments from the Conference Board and a Robert Half recruiting manager. But author Jane Carruthers didn't sugar-coat the issue. She wrote,
Entrenched age prejudice and traditional retirement patterns have created a work environment which does not accommodate those mature workers with little desire to sit in a rocking chair and reflect on their lives.
It's not all clear sailing for mature jobseekers, however. "Being viewed as overqualified is a risk many older workers face," (Robert Half manager Keith) Feinberg says.

However, those cautionary notes pale beside the poignant testimonies of JobsintheMoney readers. Some had backgrounds in financial services – an industry with a special reputation, in one reader's words, as "more inclined to value you at your age, not your qualifications."

Having the resources to retire from full-time work while still in your 50s is a bit of a luxury, as a few comments pointed out. That's something you never hear in all the HR publicists' rhetorical hand-wringing over "Baby Boomer retirement" (another theme that seems more ubiquitous in the financial services industry than anywhere else). A reader who identified himself as Paul M. LeBas wrote,

There are many of us, like myself, 56 years old, MBA in Finance, with over 20 years of professional experience, who while aging, have not achieved financial independence, who are still physically and mentally robust and energetic, who have no desire ever to retire completely, and who are just hitting their professional stride. Nor are we all in a financial position to retire. I certainly hope that we can remain competitive participants in the workforce. Can we expect an end to age discrimination?
My personal feeling is that the answer will forever remain "No" until some organized group musters the will and the resources to mount a comprehensive campaign of blind testing and presents their findings to a court or a regulatory body.

The blind testing technique – in which identically qualified individuals who differ only in one legally protected attribute apply separately for the same openings – proved highly effective in combating race discrimination in both employment and housing.

The fact that no one seems to have used it to fight for mature workers is another reason why the laws against age discrimination in the U.S. are taken about as seriously as the laws that still exist on some states' books that define adultery as a criminal offense.

Mature Workers: A New Challenge for Employers [JobsintheMoney]

Looking for Accountants in South Florida

In Florida, it seems many of the newly unemployed are heading to local job fairs to look for work, and accounting firms are there to look for accountants. Tampa Bay Online quotes Don Selvage, who works in human resources for accounting firm NCT Group, at a job fair sponsored by Heartland Workforce and South Florida Community College:
"We're always looking for good accountants," Selvage said. "I find even in slow economy that good accountants are still in demand."

NCT, which has offices in Sebring, Winter Haven and Lakeland, is looking for a full-charge bookkeeper that can handle everything from journal entries to payroll and financial statements.

"What we really are trying to do here is plant the seed in young accounting students." Selvage said. "So that when they get their two years done and they go to Webber, UF, UCF they'll think don't forget their is a public accounting firm back in Highlands County that I want to talk to."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Seeking a Counter-Offer Has Pitfalls

Just about everyone is chopping heads these days, it seems. Yet strong performers remain in demand – even in financial services, an industry that's downsizing more furiously than any other. So it's hardly an anachronism for an employee who's received a job offer to think about obtaining a counter-offer from his or her current employer.

A recent Wall Street Journal Q&A article explored the ups and downs of directly asking for a counter-offer. The WSJ's Toddi Gutner offered these tips:

Before taking such a step, know your firm's culture - the attitude they've demonstrated in past instances where someone brandished an outside offer to request a raise. Some employers view this as hostile behavior.

Decide if you're ready to leave before informing your current employer about an outside offer. Then, instead of asking for a counter-offer yourself, just give notice and hope your employer needs you so badly that they initiate a counter-offer. In contrast, Gutner suggests that the questioner's approach might actually place his loyalty in greater doubt than if he'd just given notice.

I'm not sure I buy that last point. A staffer lured back by a counter-offer after giving notice can be perceived as holding a gun to the boss's head even more so than one who started the negotiation by emphasizing their desire to stay.

On the other hand, a well-known rule of negotiating is, the other party always will feel better about a step or provision that they initiated, than one that you presented to them. So from that perspective, perhaps it is wiser give the boss every opportunity to counter-offer without having to be asked.

When the employee has already asked for a raise, Gutner cautions,

You may need to assuage worries … that you just got another offer to leverage a pay increase—whether or not you did…

The most important thing is to do is to turn around any negative perception that you put your boss into a bind and forced him to raise your salary with a counteroffer. If you're able to do that, are happy in your current job and believe you can keep up the quality of your work, then "your future success with your current employer should not be affected ," says Ms. Baranello [Alane Baranello of executive recruiting firm Eileen Finn & Associates]. If you're not sure you can do that, you might want to consider the offer you received – or plan to look for another job even if you don't jump at the current offer.
Is Asking For a Counter Offer a Good Idea? [WSJ]

Recession? What Recession?

Demand for experienced public accountants is holding steady and CPA firms are raising salaries at a healthy clip across many specialties, according to Robert Half International's recently releasead 2009 Salary Guide. Audit and tax seem to be the hottest skills. Here's our story.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Eide Bailly Acquires Three Firms

Over the past couple of days, Eide Bailly LLP has announced three acquisitions: Keller, Young & Grover (KYG), LLP, Boise, Magee Rausch & Shelton LLP, Tulsa and Gordon, Hughes & Banks, LLP, (GHB), Golden, Colorado.

The acquisitions bring Eide Bailly up to 1,200 staffers, including 157 partners, serving 39,000 clients. The firm’s total revenues for fiscal year ended April 30, 2008, were $114 million.

MRS will add three partners, Tim Roberts, Dan Cunningham and Tom Ritchie, as well as 26 staff members and $3.5 million of revenue to Eide Bailly.

“Our growth plan for Oklahoma included expansion in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa,” said Jerry Topp, managing partner/CEO of Eide Bailly. “Just three months ago, Murrell, Hall, McIntosh joined our Firm, expanding our Oklahoma City and Norman presence.”

Steve Corley, partner-in-charge of Eide Bailly’s Oklahoma practice, says the two firms both serve clients in oil and gas, non-profits, financial institutions, health care and manufacturing. By combining, Eide will attract larger companies who previously looked beyond Oklahoma for help with their business needs, Topp says.

In Colorado, acquiring GHB fits well with Eide Bailly’s plan to expand westward, Topp says. The two firms serve several similar industries, including real estate, construction, oil and gas, non-profits, government and SEC clients.

“Our entry into Colorado also gives us the opportunity to expand some of Eide Bailly’s largest practice areas, including health care, financial institutions (banks and credit unions) and insurance, into a new market,” Topp says.

GHB has offices in Golden, Denver, Grand Junction, Boulder, Summit County, and Vail Valley.

James Lyons will serve as the partner-in-charge of the Colorado practice, and partners joining Eide Bailly include Penelope Banks, James Boak, Sheryl Brake, Brian Callahan, Dave DeZutter, Bob Drury, Thomas Froehle, Kim Higgins, Rex Hughes, Peggy Jennings, Celia Johnson, Richard Kendall, Lloyd Sweet and Eric Budreau.KYG’s Julie Hawkins, Bill Keller and Jim Young will be partners at Eide Bailly.

In addition to the new offices, Eide Bailly has offices in Phoenix, Arizona; Frisco, Colorado; Dubuque, Iowa; Madelia, Mankato and Minneapolis, Minnesota; Billings, Montana; Fargo and Bismarck, North Dakota and Sioux Falls and Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Make Yourself a Layoff Survivor

Chad Broadus, an IT manager we know, recently sent us this item about surviving layoffs. While we're not hearing huge fears about downsizing in the accounting world, I think Chad's points apply to anyone who's got their eye on business conditions, whatever their industry. So here it is.

Okay, the economy’s tanking. While a healthy dose of concern is warranted, don’t get caught up in all of the negative hyperbole. Instead, take some concrete steps to become an even more valuable employee who is less of a layoff target. Remember, those “lucky ones” who survive belt tightening are often less “lucky” than you might think. Like anything else, value in a company is relative - in this case relative to your fellow employees.

So to survive a layoff, you need to create enough value that you stand out. You need to be more productive than your colleagues. Think about it: If you had to choose between cutting Employee A, who merely gets the job done, and Employee B, who seems to achieve a great deal more in a week, you’ll probably come down on the side of the overachiever.

Of course, you don’t want to kill yourself working 60-hour weeks, so you’ll need a way to do more in the same 40 hours. That’s where time management comes in. Find and master a time management system. Franklin Covey works well for a lot of people, but there are other systems out there, too. Choose a program that’s right for you and stick to it with religious zeal.

Once you’re able to squeeze more out of your time, make those extra hours to work for you. Look for problems that can be solved within your area of expertise. Once you find a problem, solve it. If you can’t directly implement the change yourself, bring the problem - and your proposed solution - to your boss. If there’s a potential return on investment, chances are your boss will go for it - and you’ve associated “problem solver” with your name.

This is just one of many strategies to keep you working in lean times. Even if layoffs never come to your company - and, remember, they may not - getting more done has benefits when your annual review and raise come around.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Accountants STILL Needed

Recruiter A.E Feldman says the shenanigans in the financial markets are, if anything, boosting the demand for accountants. Companies need help managing both challenges and opportunities in the general business climate, laws and regulations continue to increase in complexity, and let's not forget the debate over IFRS. So:
(R)ecruiting among accounting firms remains highly competitive. The firm says that accounting jobs are opening up as firms address mounting resource demands. Current opportunities include tax manager jobs, audit jobs, international tax jobs, and business valuation jobs.
J.H. Cohn has formed a Client Economic Recovery Team (CERT), a multidisciplinary group that supports, advises, and assists companies impacted by "rapidly evolving" developments.

Here's a good wrapup, on A.E. Feldman's Web site.