After setting aside a dream of becoming a high school math teacher (can you see my “nerd” propeller spinning?), what really attracted me to accounting as a profession was security. As a teenager, I had already been indoctrinated that the parental pocketbook was closing as soon as I walked out the door to head to college, and accounting seemed like a good way to support myself. Mine was about the last generation raised on the Alex P. Keaton vision of business careers (hopefully with a little more compassion,) prior to the information technology boom of the later 80’s.
The word on the street about accounting in the early 80’s was that it was a “recession-proof” career. As an engineer working in the defense industry, my father had faced the closing of the aerospace division of his employer, but somehow the accounting profession seemed more resistant to business change. Current summaries of the best careers for uncertain times continue to include accounting and finance among the most secure.
As we face current financial market meltdowns, do we expect any slowdown in the demand for accounting professionals? A CFO.com article from early 2008 dissects anticipated demand for various corporate financial careers, and its conclusions appear relevant today.
It’s certainly a reality that many businesses are looking to cut costs in the current market, and are investigating options such as outsourcing or eliminating redundancy through shared services. Corporate employers have also streamlined their SOX processes, reducing the growth that had previously been seen in this area.
Some Ohio Society members in public accounting have commented on growth in assurance services, as lenders increase their levels of scrutiny, but may be seeing some strain in specialty services if clients are facing changing priorities with tighter budgets.
As the profession prepares itself to break through the recession ahead the pack, what are some growth opportunities in the current environment?
· International Business – those who are best prepared to assist a client or employer with competing in an increasingly global business environment and dealing with the challenge of IFRS will lead the pack.
· Tax policy – we are certain to see regulatory change with a change in the White House, and CPAs will be the lead advisors to business in a period of change.
· Risk management – as businesses seek to streamline operations, this specialty increases in value.
Continuing to investing in expanding skills, including in personnel management and communications, and adding to the creative value a CPA provides to one’s client or employer as a trusted advisor, will assist in providing security in the accountant’s current role.