Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Handy - Even Fun - Way to Track Trends

Let me start by confessing that I should have posted this blog quite awhile ago but I’ve been having too much fun tinkering with the trends tracker at

Earlier today, Indeed posted a press release saying online job postings for accounting are down 53 percent from last year, but the number of clicks by job seekers looking at accounting postings is up 79 percent.

I called CEO Paul Forster, who coincidentally used to own JobsintheMoney, to get a little color commentary on the numbers. is a search engine for jobs, so it picks up listing from all sorts of site, including ours.

“You’re seeing two tendencies,” he said. “One is for the number of jobs to decline and the other is for the number of job seekers and their activity to increase. You could look at it like a supply and demand change - the amount of job-seeking and clicks-per-job has increased dramatically.”

Couldn’t you also make the assumption that accountants are worried about their jobs, so they’re checking out the employment market just in case? And that companies, meanwhile, are filling more jobs simply by posting them on their own Web sites?

He then lured me over to the Trends button. This tool calculates the popularity of any search term or the relative popularity of two terms (just put a comma between them).

Inquiring minds need to know: Who’s posting more listings, KPMG vs. PWC? Which is the more popular designation, Certified Public Accountant or Certified Fraud Examiner? PeopleSoft versus Oracle?

Be forewarned. It’s way too much fun given how useful it is to see trends in demand for skills and for employees.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How to Do Unto Others

A recent blog post by corporate consultant Richard Skaare serves up a fresh slant on networking: the best ways to help a friend who is unemployed.
You can learn a lot from - and give a lot to - a friend or former colleague who is unemployed. This is an opportune time to do unto others as you might someday want others to do unto you,
writes Skaare, a communications and change management expert, in his Pocket Change blog.

First, he ticks off what not to say: Don’t constantly bring up your friend's transitional state. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. And, don’t pretend to have the answers.

To avoid being a constant reminder of something unpleasant, Skaare advises starting conversations with your friend as if she is employed like you are. If and when she brings up the unemployment issue, only then ask questions and show your support. But let her initiate it.

I wonder about that. During my last nine-month transition between employers, I would have appreciated more direct, unsolicited expressions of concern from people in my personal circle. Because all my friends and relatives seemed to approach me as if I was employed like they were, I came to feel stigmatized, like a cancer victim whose illness is too awkward to mention. So, you might be sticking your unemployed friend with the unwanted burden of reaching out to ask for your concern, if you leave it to him to raise the difficult subject first.

In the "Don't promise what you can't deliver" department, Skaare wisely advises selecting only the most relevant contacts to refer your friend to, and calling each to ask them to devote a little face time to her. "As a result of the meeting, your unemployed friend now has someone who will remember her," he observes.

With those few "don'ts" out of the way, Skaare then details five good ways to support an unemployed friend:
  • Devote at least two hours each week to talking with him (not necessarily about the job search).
  • Listen closely, and mirror your friend's emotional flow.
  • Help with the truth. Let your friend voice her frustrations and fears, once she's comfortable doing that.
  • Prepare to stick with your friend for however long it takes him to get re-employed. The worst time for the unemployed is three months after losing a job, according to Skaare.
  • Make a sacrifice. Skaare suggests offering to look after the friend's kids, lend your extra car or even offer to lend money (as a good friend of Skaare's once offered to do for him).
I don't know about that last suggestion. Sacrifice, yes. But lending money to a friend is fraught with peril, even if it's the dearest of friends (or even a close relative). Remember the words of the Bard: "A loan doth lose both itself and friend."

Helping Your Unemployed Friend [Pocket Change]

Monday, February 23, 2009

Speaking the Language of Financial Reporting

Do you speak XBRL? Now that the Securities and Exchange Commission has set a June deadline for the 500 largest companies to start filing financial reports using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), demand for accountants fluent in the interactive business language is growing.

“It’s hot,” says Mitchell Feldman, President of A.E. Feldman Associates, Inc., a Great Neck, N.Y. executive search firm, who recently wrote about the move to XBRL in his blog. “I’m getting calls from clients for this. It’s steady work.”

What else is going on in Feldman's shop? He’s seeing a lot of former partners these days. “There’s a musical chairs going on,” he warns. “The key is to make sure that your CPA partner practice is strong and some of them aren’t.”

How to Manage an Exit Interview

For whatever the reason - maybe you've been let go, maybe you're leaving for another firm - you're facing a human resource officer on your last day of work.What do you do?

Read here, to start.

Friday, February 20, 2009

RSM and McGladrey & Pullen Open NY Life Science Practice

RSM McGladrey and McGladrey & Pullen LLP are opening a Life Sciences Practice Group to serve New York and New Jersey clients.

Managing Directors John Lanza and Patricia Baldowski will lead the practice. “The group is a new team formed from the manufacturing, wholesale and distribution group,” explains McGladrey Spokesperson John Ryan. “They’ve been in place and focusing on this area for quite some time and we’re making it an official group.”

At present, the firm is running the group with existing staff, but that could change. “We’re anticipating growth and with that growth we’ll keep an open mind about adding staff,” Ryan said.

The group provides audit services for public and private entities, public equity offerings, FAS 109 and FIN 48 support for public companies, industry-specific tax planning and compliance, merger and acquisition guidance, transfer pricing, and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance support.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Work Life Issues Still Alive at Deloitte

They may be telling you to hunker down and work harder at your shop, but over at Deloitte, they’re still thinking about work/life balance despite the economic challenges of today’s business environment.

Stan Smith, national director of Next Generation Initiatives at Deloitte LLP explains what the economic crisis will and won’t change about Millennials' workplace expectations in a podcast posted at Total Picture Radio.

Listening to the 17-minute podcast on your iPod won’t get you the whole way through a decent workout on the elliptical at the gym, but it will make you feel like there’s hope for accountants who want to see their children or grandchildren during daylight hours.

Some Common Resume No-No's

People who look at a lot of resumes - recruiters, frequent hiring managers, some HR professionals, career coaches and yes, job board staffers like ourselves - often remark that elementary, even comical errors (like misspelling the name of a past employer) crop up far more often than one might think. So a list of 25 things a job-seeker should never include in his or her resume is well motivated, even if many of these no-no's sound like no-brainers. Here's our story.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Two NYC Mergers Announced

Two New York City mergers were announced today. Parente Randolph, LLC, has combined its practice with New York City-based, Lazar Levine & Felix LLP. Crowe Horwath LLP is merging with Hays & Company LLP and admitting six partners to open a new Crowe New York City office.

David Lifson and Ed Kuczmarski of Hays & Co. will lead a 50-person Crowe Madison Avenue team. “This is another step to accomplishing our vision of becoming a national firm that is globally recognized and will firmly establish Crowe’s entry into the New York market,” said Chuck Allen, Crowe’s chief executive officer. Crowe already has offices in Livingston, N.J., and Philadelphia, Pa.

The $16 million Lazar Levine & Felix and Parente Randolph merger will create a firm with 650 team members and 82 principals.

“We do expect this to provide growth opportunities and that will lead to an increase in staff,” says a company spokesperson. Parente’s not able to define how large that increase might be.

“Our services complement each other and their location ties in directly with our growth plan,” adds Robert J. Ciaruffoli, chairman and CEO of Parente Randolph. “Having solidified our footprint in New Jersey and expanding into New York City, we look forward to the new business development opportunities and attraction of talent this merger will bring.”

Parente Randolph provides assurance and tax services, corporate finance, governance and risk management, forensic accounting, and business systems, human resources and healthcare consulting.

Lazar Levine & Felix will add matrimonial services and a family office practice to the service list. Both firms already offer business valuation and litigation support services.

Joining Parente Randolph as Principals are Paul Adams, Eric J. Barr, Amiram (Kiki) Bielory, Ted M. Felix, Jay B. Goldberg, Lawrence Gotfried, Henry B. Guberman, Moshe Levitin, Joan Lipton, Nazeleen Sataur, Thomas R. Vreeland. Retired partners O. David Fischer, Melvin Lazar and Spencer Wissinger, III, will continue to provide services to the new entity.

The Lazar Lipton Valuation Services LLC affiliate of Lazar Levine & Felix, will become a division of Parente Randolph

Working Without a Net

During recessions, many laid-off professionals shun a return to traditional employment, opting instead for careers as independent contractors or consultants. Here are some things to consider.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Economy Pressures Smaller Firms

If the economy continues to crash, accounting firms may find themselves forced to lay off employees to balance the books after the busy season.

Here's Dona's story.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Big Four Make Training Magazine's Top 125 List

The Big Four dominate this year’s Training Magazine Top 125 companies list, with PricewaterhouseCoopers coming in at number one, followed by KPMG in the number two spot.

Deloitte enters the magazine’s Hall of Fame, after making it into the top ten for four consecutive years. Ernst & Young was already a Hall of Fame company.

Companies enter the competition, which ranks organizations based on their financial commitment, training programs offered, metrics measured, workplace surveys, turnover and new employee referrals.

Training Editor-in-Chief Lorri Freifeld says companies in the top ten are known for providing quality, innovative, excellent training programs. “If you chose any company in the top ten you’re guaranteed a good training experience,” she says.

But why do so many accounting firms make the list? “Compliance,” Freifeld answers. Given the expertise required of accounting firm employees and their need to comply with so many rules and regulations, it makes sense that accounting firms would put time and effort into training.

Where 'Son of TARP' Could Create Jobs

Here is our initial read on potential direct jobs impact from the detailed financial stability plan unveiled today by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Grow Professionally Online

Looking for career guidance or growth? Want to share your wisdom with others? Then consider becoming an online mentor or protégé and let the coaching begin.

Here's our story.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Almost Half of CFOs Still Plan to Retire on Time

Economic conditions have led about a quarter of chief financial officers (CFOs) to delay their retirement – bad news for those who were hoping to move up when the boss stopped working.

That’s the news from Robert Half Management Resources’ latest survey of 1,400 U.S. CFOs. In addition to the 27 percent of CFOs who said they’re “extending their working years,” another 25 percent said they had “more uncertainty and cannot predict” when they would retire.

If you’re a glass-almost-half-full kind of person, look at it this way: 43 percent said their retirement plans hadn’t changed and another 5 percent planned to spend “fewer years” working than they had intended to five years ago.

When asked why they planned to work longer, 62 percent of the CFOs said the economy, 9 percent chalked it up to family concerns. Only 2 percent selected the best of all possible reasons to stay on the job: “Renewed desire for the stimulation work provides.”

Bottom line: there's a nearly 50/50 chance that instead of getting promoted to CFO you’re going to be working for a boss who would rather be playing golf.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Good Background, Strong Skills - And No Job?

Despite a perfect resume, flawless references and years of experience, some finance professionals are finding it difficult to land a job suitable to their skills. Even people who've put in time at Big Four accounting firms or well-known investment banks have sometimes gotten less-than-receptive reactions from prospective employers.

Here's our story.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Majority of KPMG UK Agrees Cut Backs Better than Layoffs

KPMG's United Kingdom operation is close to succeeding in its plan to avoid layoffs by convincing the majority of its 11,000 employees to potentially work a four-day week or take a short sabbatical at reduced pay.

More than 60 percent of staffers have agreed to the deal, says KPMG EMA Director of Communications Gavin Houlgate. "But, we have not passed the closure of the voting system yet," he adds. "That’s next week, so the final figure may change."

London's Financial Times reports the firm is telling staffers they'll only lose 10 percent of their pay in the deal and that they will have the option of switching back to full time work at the end of the year.

The firm estimates that it will need 75 percent of the staff to agree to avoid cutbacks, the Times says.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Firms Still Hiring, But More Slowly

If there's an unwritten rule not to change public accounting jobs during tax season, plenty of accountants are ignoring it. And despite the emergence of some interesting staffing options, hiring in accounting and finance has slowed.

Here's Dona's story.