February 24, 2009
Despite the economic downturn, accounting firms are continuing to grow, and more students are entering college degree programs to enter the field.
Mitch Feldman, president of New-York based executive placement and management consulting firm A.E. Feldman, noted in Las Vegas Business Press that accountants are more in demand now than ever. "Accounting firms are being called upon to help redefine risk management structures, achieve better cash management, sell assets, optimize costs, restructure debt, and improve the length and transparency of financial reporting," he said.
Feldman also cited a 2008 survey from the National Management of Accounting Practice, which indicated that a large majority of certified public accounting firms reported continued growth in the last two years.
The Las Vegas Business Press noted that a 2008 ranking of the nation's most profitable industries by Sageworks, Inc., a North Carolina-based information and analysis firm, showed that accounting, tax preparation and payroll services firms had the second-highest profit margin in 2008 at 15.5 percent.
The numbers seem to suggest what many experts have claimed: Ironically, accounting is a good profession during an economic turndown. U.S. News & World Report lists accounting as one its "15 Hot Jobs in a (Gulp!) Depression," noting that tough times propel businesses and individuals to wisely account for every dollar.
The Associated Press [from an article originally located at http://www.kten.com/Global/story.asp?S=9806878] reports that enrollment in Oklahoma State University's School of Accounting has increased from 285 students in 2004 to 524 last year.
Michael Brown, a CPA and instructor at DeVry University's Keller Graduate School of Management in Pennsylvania, notes in New Hampshire's SentinelSource.com that accountants played a critical role recovering from the Great Depression, and are poised to do the same now.
"Just like in the 1930s," he told SentinelSource.com, "accountants will have to lead the way in restoring that confidence by working to provide information that people can understand and, more importantly, believe in."
Brown pointed out that federal agencies like the FBI, IRS, DFAS and DCAA are seeking financial professionals, and colleges and universities are looking for professors in accounting. Furthermore, he predicted that opportunities will continue to emerge in forensic accounting and auditing.
Yet accounting firms are also reporting changes as the business responds to the economic climate. The Las Vegas Business Press notes that given the tax-law changes and the recession, some firms are investing more time and resources to assist clients.
Las Vegas CPA Danny Riddle told SentinelSource.com that his firm has been turning down new accounts this winter. "We have become very selective of what clients we take on," he said, "because on average, we've got to do a lot more to help them comply with all standards and avoid penalties."