is being in the accounting profession even worth it anymore?

Every accounting job I've ever had was very difficult. I am changing careers. Part of what makes the accounting profession difficult, I think, is that there aren't enough people out there to do the work
that is required. Salaries for entry-level positions at Big 4 firms are rising drastically, but when one gets there, one should probably expect to be "overworked."
Working hard wouldn't be so bad if the environment in which one worked weren't so risky, understaffed, complex, and oftentimes just plain boring. Arthur Andersen and other accounting problems in industry really should be expected. So, one solution I read somewhere else was to get rid of the audit profession altogether and make financial reporting like tax reporting. That is, you or the entity is responsible for your tax return and your financial statements. The SEC could then do random or selective audits based on certain risk criteria just like the IRS does.
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On Tue, 07 Aug 2007 14:08:17 -0700, Zarlot531 wrote:

That's true. There aren't enough good people to fill the positions. I am making 50K a year (plus tuition and profit sharing benefits) in the New York area, and I don't even have my degree yet. In fact, I am just doing some non-managerial a/p and a/r work, albeit for a large company. In addition, we are having some difficulty filling a senior accountant position.

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I would add that, as with anything, it falls to location. Some areas of the country may have shortages of, or way too many accountants.
The difficulty with this profession, and one they do not, and most likely can not teach in school, is how to deal with people. In public accounting you deal with your clients, their business and/or personal problems - time and time again. In a corporate accounting you deal with people too, employees, bosses, shareholders, customers, etc and so on. There are times in both sides of the profession that there is some "down-time", however short that may be.
In most any profession where you're the employee, you'll be pushed to perform. Maybe consider staying in this field but changing the types of employers you work for.
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Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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wrote:

I think you're right about the people thing. And, to be fair, in almost all of my jobs, I received almost no training or any training I did receive was on-the-job. You would think I would complain about this, and I do a little bit, but on the other hand I realize that the situation I was in was so complex with so many moving parts, that only time and experience doing the job, while asking questions as one went along (but eventually having to figure things out for oneself) was probably to be expected. That is, one thing accounting majors should realize is that, even if you work in industry, you shouldn't necessarily expect a week-long training session. One thing that did make my last job a bit more difficult than the average entry-level accounting person's was that we had just taken on the outsourcing of the billing function for a large Fortune 500 health insurance company. They were on the west coast, and we were on the east coast. And, boy, did we have problems. They didn't hire enough people. They have since went on a hiring frenzy. And I have since quit, even though they begged me not to.
This was at a billion dollar+ company. I was basically working weekends and late nights for $30,000/year. On the postive side, I did learn PivotTables and did learn to write VBA macros somewhat. I am a lot better at Excel now than I used to be, but I'm glad to be out of that place.
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To be fair, the larger firm in this profession, and we're talking the biggies here, do in-house training. Almost all smaller firms send their employees out for CPE, at lest at the professional level. Not quite sure how the other firms train up their clerical staff, but some I know of send them to the H&R training, to Athens Tech, or to con-ed classes at UGA.
But even the best class in the world won't be able to tell you how that firm does things, so if there isn't any formal training, it's learn as you go.

At some level, every day is a training session - right?
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Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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On Aug 10, 11:38 am, "Paul Thomas, CPA"

Most certainly so. That's why I guess I realize perhaps accounting isn't for me, at least not small public accounting, at least not in the long-term (maybe part time while I'm repositioning myself with certain schooling). I'm sure my experience in industry perhaps might be aytpical, so perhaps I'll keep my options open there.
The biggest frustration I had in small public accounting, though, was that, at least during my first tax season, I tried to make my tax returns "too perfect" I think as I look back. There really is no thing as a perfect tax return, at least not when you've got a good bit going on. Many times, as I look back, I should have just gone with things and not made calls to clients to question every single detail.
Yet the thing I hated the most really was having to call clients to talk to them about their return. What it meant if I had to call them was that a lot of times I had to try to jog their memory of certain situations. For example, what if there were quarterly statements from some brokerage with some investments they had, but no yearly 1099 from it? I guess the major problem with having to call people all the time is that it hurts your efficiency. You go from working on a return, to having to call and often wait for more info.
Also, clients loved to include "everything." Data were often duplicated within what they gave you, making it easy to make a mistake perhaps if you were in a hurry. Also, clients often would write things down on pieces of paper and it wouldn't be clear exactly what the data was related to exactly. Calling them about it was a pain because you know they don't really want to talk about this stuff.
It might have helped if I had been able to sit in with some of these people in a brief half-hour meeting or something. Anyway, yes, people skills are important, especially in public accounting. As I've described, I just found I didn't like calling people about the extreme details of their finances.
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I've been in industry, and my wife is a CPA in industry too, so I know how it all works, and I know there are both good and bad when it comes to co-workers, bosses, clients, customers, employees, vendors, etc.

Absolutely. If you were the person responsible for preparing the return, you should have been doing the interview. That's how it works here. The less levels things have to go through, the easier it is, and the less mistakes happen because of the shorter line of communications between you and the client.
We sit down with the client at their appointment, very few returns get done while they wait at this firm, and go over their data, making notes, comparing things to the prior year returns, and making lists of things not provided. That list contains an expected due date from the client and we call a few days after that to see if they are bringing the final numbers. In most cases the rest of the data has been entered and we're waiting on those last items, in others, we've set it aside till the bulk comes in. It just depends on the schedules here and the history of the client.
I struggle with some that stop by every few days with "Here's one more contributions I found!!".

The part I don't like dealing with is tragedies and other traumatic events in their lives.....death, divorce, etc.
Those are probably ~the~ most difficult areas to discuss. No amount of schooling can help train you for some of the things I've come up on - and will see in the years to come.
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Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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On Tue, 7 Aug 2007 23:10:10 -0400, Rocinante

I will bet a nickel to a doughnut that the only reason there is "a difficulty" is because there are undisclosed requirements (usually associate with some locally developed and probably not legally compliant "affirmative action plan") and other attributes that have nothing to do with the bone fide qualifications necessary to do the job.
[Someone, who is funded by grant money, really ought to do a study on the current influence of accounting function mismanagement and bankruptcy. I always promised myself I would do it, along with a half dozen other research projects I had on the back burner, if I could get a part time faculty position.]
There has not been a shortage of qualified accountants for the thirty years I've been in and out of the work. When you have a shortage, you have behavior like you see with the Nintendo Wii. I have never seen that type of behavior in filling accounting positions.
Actually, with our system of heavily subsidized education, it is impossible to have a shortage of qualified accountants.
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How about unrealistic expectations from the employer about the "required" experience and the responsibilities for that position as compared to the amount of pay and benefits they are offering.
How about unrealistic expectations from the employee about their actual experience and abilities as compared to the amount of pay and benefits they are seeking.
Eventually both sides dumb-down their expectations, an offer is made and accepted, and all live happily ever after.

http://www.startribune.com/459/story/1349096.html "A Minneapolis hospital is using Nintendo's Wii game system to help recovering stroke victims get back on their feet"

Me neither. Doubt I'll ever see accountants being used as rehab for stroke victims.
Oh, what you mean is that there isn't any new and exciting technology driving the accounting profession where prospective employers line up at ~your~ door days in advance of you being available.

You must be a load of laughs at a party.
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Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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This is why I went into business for myself. I'm able to pick my own clientelle which are normally small businesses here in Cartier.

Self employed you can have a cold one, walk the dog, enjoy a smoke, all the things your boss won't let you do :)
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