Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Auditors Are Hot!

The sexiness of this profession just won't quit! Accounting, once avoided as "boring" and mere "bean-counting", is suddenly desirable. It's interesting. It is easy to credit the demand created by SOX as the driver behind this trend. This much is obvious.

What's going on?

After the collapse of Enron, we saw just how important accountants are – especially independent auditors. Auditors became the guardians of shareholder value.

So, a number of forces have converged to make accounting sexy. Of course, the demand in the market that resulted from SOX is one prominent factor. Another is the prestige that has emerged around the accounting profession. After Enron, the business community – and individual investors – knows how important auditors are. Among the most substantial drivers, though, seem to be salary.

Salary?

Once upon a time, brand new audit associates didn’t make squat. When my wife and I were at Deloitte, I was a first year consultant, and she was a first year tax associate. My salary was twice hers. So, the notion that the profession’s salary is attracting people is mind-blowing.

Among the ten factors used to rank why recent graduates were attracted to different companies, salaries ranked sixth – much higher than I expected. (This was covered in a Financial Times article on 10/12/2005.)

Clearly, this trend has a Big Four angle. According to the FT article mentioned above, three of the Big Four are among recent grads’ top ten ideal employers. PwC turned in the best Big Four performance at #2, with E&Y at #3 and Deloitte at #6. Given their recent image problems, KPMG is not among the top ten – though I think this will change in future years.

By Tom Johansmeyer

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