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In the News: Accounting Firms Regain 87% of Jobs Lost During the Recession

This week’s ‘In the News’ post comes from the AICPA and CPA/SEA Interchange conference in St. Louis. I’ve been learning a lot at the sessions and having a good time networking with my colleagues at the state societies and sharing ideas and information. There has been a lot going on in the profession recently and I’ve been trying my best to stay on top of it all. I’ve highlighted a few of the more interesting articles I’ve seen in the past week and shared them with you below. If you see something that you think was particularly important, send me an email or let me know in the comments section.

The accounting profession is regaining jobs lost during the recession much faster than some other sectors of the economy, according to a  USA Today article, entitled, “Service Businesses Lead Uneven Jobs Recovery.” The article notes that accounting firms have regained 87% of the jobs they lost, whereas the legal profession has only regained 17%. The article quotes Scott Moore, senior manager  - college & university initiatives at the American Institute of CPAs, who attributes these positive numbers to startup businesses and financial rules that have allowed easier expansion abroad for U.S. companies. Some sectors such as department stores, manufacturing, and construction are very far from recouping the losses they once suffered.

Julie Steinberg wrote a very informative article in FINS about what it takes to turn an accounting job into a long-term career and laying out some of the steps that individuals who just started out in the profession can follow. Not surprisingly, the most important step to move up in the profession is to sit for the CPA exam and get certified. Nancy Altobello, Americas vice chair of people at Ernst & Young explains how important having a CPA license is for getting a job at her firm, "we will hire people without their CPA up until their fifth year of experience in the sector. We will support them to get it, but generally the firm doesn't hire people without one after year five." According to the article, a typical career path at E&Y would include the following:

  • Start as a staff accountant.
  • Take the CPA exam
  • After two years, move to senior accountant
  • After three years, move to manager
  • Another three years later, move to senior manager
  • From senior manager to partner it can take between three to six years  

Nina Guthrie, national director, university recruiting, at Grant Thornton stressed that making partner is about more than simply having great accounting skills. "If you want to make partner, you'll need an executive presence," says Guthrie. "You might know everything and how to do it, but if you don't look the part, you've lost credibility." That means developing your communication and presentation skills as well as demonstrating a willingness to take on tough assignments.


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