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.

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