Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Chair Nominee at CalCPA

From California, James Rubin writes:

Barring a last-minute twist, Andrea Cope will become the next chair of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Cope is a San Francisco-based partner at Burr Pilger Mayer. She has been active with CalCPA, the leading trade association for accountants in the state. Last year, Cope served as first vice chairman for CalCPA. That position has been a launching ground to the chair role. Her predecessor, Greg Burke, a partner at Sacramento-based John Waddell & Co., also was first vice chair before becoming chair. Cope was also a past head of the San Francisco chapter of CalCPA, one of 14 across the state.

CalCPA chairs serve one-year terms starting in mid-year. They usually seek to accomplish two or three goals. Burke focused his efforts drawing accountants to academia, where there has been a shortage of accounting professors and overhauling educational restrictions that have made it difficult for California accountants to practice out of state.

A CalCPA nomination committee chose Cope for the post. She will be officially named to the chair position around May 1, Burke said. Until that time, members can nominate an alternative candidate, forcing a subsequent vote, Burke said. But Burke said that he was unaware of that happening in his 23 years as a CalCPA member.

Burke said that Cope has a good sense of humor. She is a trained chef who studied at the California Culinary Academy.

New E&Y S. Calif. Leader Has Diversity Goals

From California, James Rubin writes:

Women accountants and those from minority groups who are seeking positions with larger, full service firms in the western U.S., take note. Maho Jordan, who took over as Ernst & Young’s Pacific Southwest people team leader last year, is looking to recruit a more diverse workforce. A veteran accountant at the firm, she now oversees recruiting for major E&Y hubs in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. She assumed her role when Bin Wolfe took over as people team leader for China.

Jordan said that among other objectives she hoped to expand on Wolfe’s diversity efforts. “My goal is to build on the success of my predecessor by taking Ernst & Young's diversity and inclusiveness efforts to the next level, which is a critical priority for the success of our global organization. Diversity of perspective is essential in today’s global environment. Today more than ever, the organizations with the best talent and the widest perspective will be successful.”

Caturano Drops Vitale Name

Vitale, Caturano & Co., Ltd., Boston, is changing its name to Caturano and Company effective May 1st. The move to drop the name of partner Richard Vitale comes after a Suffolk County grand jury indicted Vitale on 10 charges, alleging he lobbied his friend, House Speaker Sal DiMasi, without being properly licensed as a lobbyist and violated campaign finance laws.

Caturano spokesperson Joe Grillo said: “Due to challenges we have faced over the past year regarding our firm name, our partners and shareholders have voted to change the name of the firm to Caturano and Company...We want to underscore that our mission has not changed: provide outstanding service to our clients, grow our business, and create opportunities for our staff to advance and enjoy rewarding careers."

The state attorney general’s office said Vitale, Caturano cooperated with its investigation and added that Richard Vitale is no longer affiliated with the firm. The allegations against Vitale involve a separate firm that Vitale owns, WN Advisors LLC, the AG’s office said.

The company will also change its Web site from www.vitale.com to www.caturanoandcompany.com.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Your Options In Negotiating Severance

As the number of layoffs has risen, the willingness of companies to negotiate the contents of severance packages has fallen off due to fears of creating inequalities among classes of employees and the necessity to hoard cash.

Our story.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How Long is Too Long to be Unemployed?

In the current economy, being out of a job for an extended period may not carry the stigma it once did for top managers, according to a new survey.

Executives polled felt that, on average, a senior manager could be out of work nine months before his or her career prospects were adversely affected.

The survey, developed by Robert Half Management Resources, asked 150 senior executives from the nation's 1,000 largest companies: "How long, in months, can a top manager remain unemployed before it hurts his or her career?"

The mean response was nine months, but there were differences in responses based on industry segments. Among the 24 finance industry professionals in the poll, 37.5 percent felt a four-month stint of unemployment was enough to hurt your career. Nearly a third, 29 percent, felt it would take 10 to 12 months of unemployment before you were stigmatized.

"Despite pockets of opportunity, the job market remains challenging, and extended searches aren't unusual," said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. "Most hiring managers recognize the economy has sidelined many outstanding people. In fact, some companies are taking advantage of the current employment environment to hire experienced workers who would not have been available one year ago."

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Accounting Student Meets the Job Market

Kim Kaemmer thought for sure she wanted to earn her CPA and work in public accounting. But as she readies for her May 2009 graduation from the University of St. Thomas, a regional Catholic school in St. Paul, Minn., she's beginning to have second thoughts.

Here's the full story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Are Green MBAs Appealing?

A new Bright Green MBA program at the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management at Alliant International University, San Diego, is tapping into demand among experienced workers looking to move into federal stimulus-funded green jobs fields.

Alliant officials say students should choose a Green MBA because the $80 billion Recovery Act will create a green industry in need of executives, professionals and entrepreneurs.

A Green MBA could lead to work in fields such as building design, alternative energy and energy efficiency, as well as green consulting.

And, as green grows in popularity, corporations will want to promote their operations as socially and environmentally responsible and to green up their supply chains.

Alliant also argues that a green career offers positive karma. In the green business world, you get financial rewards and the personal satisfaction of making a positive contribution to the environment.

Other schools running Green MBA programs include Dominican University and Presidio School of Management in San Francisco, and Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Colorado State University, Ft. Collins and the University of Michigan , Ann Arbor offer MBAs in sustainable enterprise.

Our Take: Be Visible, Not Desperate

Was Joshua Persky ahead of his time? Nine months ago, the laid-off investment banker made his pitch to passers-by in midtown Manhattan wearing a poster that read, "Experienced M.I.T. Grad For Hire." His out-of-the-box tactic brought encouraging words, worldwide media attention and many a contact - but few concrete job opportunities, and no offers. Persky found a new job in October, a full four months after his week inside the sandwich board.

Here's our column.

Grant Thornton Launches Services for Hedge Funds

Grant Thornton is launching a Hedge Fund Internal Control, Governance and Regulatory Compliance Services unit, designed to help funds attract investors who might be wary of alternative investments. The group will also assist funds in preparing to face new regulations that are all-but certain to come out of Washington.

In addition to developing the internal control, compliance and governance facilities to comply with the new rules, firms may also be required to establish an anti-money laundering program and report suspicious activities, Grant Thornton notes.

The company says its new services will include:
  • Assessment of a hedge fund firm's readiness to address new investor and regulator demands regarding internal controls, financial reporting and governance.
  • Development and testing of internal controls.
  • Development and review of regulatory compliance programs
  • Independent pricing and classification verification; develop and test valuation policies and procedures.
  • Independent attestations and opinions on internal controls
Here's the press release.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Changing Jobs? Leave Bad Habits Behind

People with experience in accounting bring a great amount of knowledge and skills with them when they move to a new job. But they also bring their old habits, including some harmful assumptions about how work should be done.

Here's our story.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New PwC Web site Advises Student Job Seekers

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) has created an online job-hunting toolkit for college students.

Recession-Proof Your Job Search: How to up your chances in a down economy features short video vignettes with career tips, a video Q&A addressing students' career questions and downloadable career planning worksheets.

The online videos feature advice from Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World. Pollak is also hosting a blog where students can post questions about the recruiting process.

PwC expects to hire approximately 3,000 college graduates in 2009 - roughly the same number as 2008.

Monday, March 16, 2009

From LinkedIn to Facebook, and Back

Many an electron has been unleashed comparing and contrasting Facebook with LinkedIn. The latest take comes from a pair of McKinsey analysts who worry that LinkedIn's refusal to police spamming will injure the Facebook ethic of open networking once more people start using the latter for career and business purposes, instead of pure friendship. Here's our story.

MBA Grads Looking Beyond IB

The job market is so bad these days that even top MBA program graduates are being forced to take corporate finance positions because they can’t find jobs in investment banking – or so says a feature in Financial Week.

The era of aggressive recruitment by bulge bracket firms is over and this year’s graduates are snapping up jobs just to pay back loans, hoping to move into investment banking later in their careers.

Financial Week reports:

As big banks including Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs cut tens of thousands of jobs, MBA students who just a few years ago would have been aggressively recruited by companies now expect to fight for the handful of positions available…

While companies are still sending recruiters to campuses, they are not hiring as many people. MIT [Sloane] officials estimated that recruiters on its campus were offering 20% fewer positions this year.”

With fewer spots open, career counselors are suggesting students look beyond the traditionally popular choices of financial services, consulting, venture capital and hedge funds.

And while American students are considering emerging markets as potential job targets, international students are thinking their home countries could offer more opportunities, the paper concludes.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Speak Up and Speak Better

"Hi. Okay, you guys, hi. How's it goin'? I'm your presenter today, so just, like, open your packets and, like, follow along with the PowerPoint so we can jargon, jargon, jargon, gobbledygook, thirty-six million four hundred twenty-nine thousand eighteen point one percentage points and more, you know, like, jargon. Okay?"

Sound like any presentations you've attended - or, worse, given - lately? Read on.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is HR About to End Your Overseas Assignment?

International assignments are expensive, so when economic times are tough, they’re an easy target for cut-backs.

That’s why 42 percent of 100 human resources professionals recently surveyed by the International Executive Services (IES) practice of KPMG said they were reviewing those programs with an eye toward cost reductions.

If you want to live in Paris at some point during your accounting career, take heart in the fact that companies are still just thinking about the issue. KPMG found 51 percent had not made any substantive changes to their programs in the last six months and 46 percent did not plan to make any changes within the next year.

"HR professionals need to underscore the value of international assignments to leadership and remind organizations that they continue to have legitimate reasons to invest in their people and their business,” said Achim Mossmann, managing director of Global Mobility Advisory Services in KPMG LLP's IES practice. “They play a vital role in illustrating how quick decisions to cut costs may have a negative impact on the long-term business goals of an organization."

Other key HR areas that organizations are reviewing for both potential budget cuts and cost savings include recruiting (45 percent), and bonus pools (43 percent).

Of the organizations that did make changes to their international assignment programs in the past six months, 23 percent said they had recalled existing assignees. Within the next year, 15 percent said they plan to take similar action.

If your company is considering recalling you and you’d like to stay, make your business case. Point out the short-term cash impact of paying to bring your whole family home, the cost of covering any tax liabilities that repatriation would incur, and the cost of sending you back overseas when the economy improves.

Also, consider arguing that the company needs you where you are. "They [companies] need to maintain contact with assignees to keep them informed of any program changes and swiftly address any rumors they may hear, while also working to determine that the international assignment program's compensation philosophy remains intact," Mossmann says.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Deloitte China Orders Staff to Take Voluntary Unpaid Leave

Different country, different company, same strategy -- have everyone take a little unpaid leave to avoid layoffs -- executed differently.

In China, Deloitte just told its staffers that everyone is going to take four days of unpaid leave starting April 1st to save money, the China Daily newspaper reports.

Last month, the majority of KPMG’s United Kingdom staff agreed to work, and only be paid for, a four-day workweek. There, the company gave employees a chance to vote on the issue.

Ernst & Young, China, put in place a similar program in January, “which required staff members to take up to four weeks of voluntary unpaid leave by June 30,” China Daily reported.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Painless Route to Tailoring Your Resume

Here's our handy step-by-step guide for customizing your resume to match each job opportunity, without starting from scratch each time.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Freidkin, RAFFA Merge in DC

Two Washington, D.C.-area women-owned accounting firms are merging. Freidkin, Matrone & Horn PA, Rockville will merge into D.C.-based RAFFA PC.

“The merger is combining two top-tier firms,” says Freidkin Principal Susan B. Hepner “Our firm is in the for-profit sector and RAFFA is a niche business in the non-profit sector, so we expect the synergies to create demand where we will be hiring.”

Freidkin, a member of the BDO Seidman Alliance, specializes in high net worth families and their businesses. RAFFA, meanwhile, offers accounting, consulting and technology advice to about 500 non-profits .

The combined firm will have 16 partners and about 250 employees.

Watson Survey: Worst of Layoffs May be Past Us

The worst of the layoffs may be behind us, as companies realize they can’t slash their way out of trouble, according to a new survey from Watson Wyatt.

They survey of 245 large U.S. employers conducted in mid February found that while more than half of companies (52 percent) have already made layoffs, the number of companies planning new layoffs has declined from 23 percent to 13 percent.

"Companies have come to terms with the fact that this recession is going to last and that they can't slash their way out of it," said Laura Sejen, global director of strategic rewards consulting at Watson Wyatt. "Many companies are putting the drastic cuts behind them and are now focusing on smaller, more sustainable cost-cutting actions."

Those actions include hiring freezes (56 percent), salary freezes (42 percent), salary reductions (7 percent), reductions in 401(k) matches (12 percent), a shortened workweek (13 percent), raising employee health care contributions (22 percent), reduced training (35 percent) and travel restrictions (69 percent).

A whopping 69 percent of companies revised merit increase budgets in the past few months, with median increases declining from the 3.5 percent they originally planned to 1.5 percent.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

86% of CFOs Put Away the Ax

It says something about the economy that one could view as good news Robert Half International’s (RHI) announcement that 86 percent of CFOs want to maintain current staff levels in the next three months.

In an economy that’s expected to lose half a million jobs for the fourth straight month when unemployment figures come out later this week, having 86 percent of the 1,400 CFOs interviewed for the Financial Hiring Index say they’re not laying off in your industry is comforting.

Another five percent of respondents said they plan to add full-time employees, while 7 percent expect staff reductions. The other 2 percent don't know what they're planning to do.

What’s driving those figures? Curiously, 40 percent of the CFOs said rising workloads were the reason for additional hiring, and another 38 percent attributed it to business growth.

RHI slices and dices its data by region, industry, company size and other factors. So, if you want to see survey results for Boston, mid-size firms, or finance, insurance and real estate (all of which were showing positive demand), scroll to the bottom of the firm’s press release on the survey.