Accountants say recession has changed their job responsibilities

Despite Changing Roles, Accountants Still See Strong Job Market for the Profession Due to IFRS, Economic Stimulus Package and Need for Financial Analysis, Budgeting & Forecasting During Recession

Melville , NY – (April 22, 2009) – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to report month-over-month job losses, but is this picture reflective of what is happening in the accounting profession? According to the report's sector snapshot, the accounting and bookkeeping industry added 1,600 new jobs last month equating to a very real bright spot in an otherwise cloudy labor situation.

To dig deeper on what's really happening within the accounting industry, Ajilon Finance, a leading staffing firm specializing in the placement of finance, accounting and bookkeeping professionals, polled over 500 finance and accounting professionals as part of the Institute of Management Accountants' Inside Talk Webinar Series to explore how those closest to the financial state of corporate America see the current economic uncertainty impacting their jobs, companies and the accounting professional as a whole.

Among the survey's key findings, 75% of accountants said that the financial crisis and economic turmoil have changed their on-the-job responsibilities. Other key survey findings include:

  • New List of Priorities, with Cost-Cutting at the Top: Today's accountants are spending more time on cost-cutting initiatives according to 59% of respondents, as companies are pressured to reduce expenses to match what's happening externally. An equal percentage of accountants surveyed said they are spending more time on risk assessment initiatives (27%) and providing general financial advice to their companies (27%). Nine percent of accountants said they are spending more of their time on regulatory work in the past several months while 25% said their job responsibilities have remained the same.

Despite Tough Job Market, Accountants Still in Demand: Almost half (48%) of accountants surveyed said the job market for finance and accounting professionals is better than or the same as it was before the financial crisis. The increased need for financial analysis, budgeting and forecasting during the recession, the transition to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the economic stimulus package were among the top reasons cited for increased job opportunities. This is, however, down from the 65% of accountants who said that job market for accountants was better or the same in a similar survey conducted in May 2008.

Economy Won't Recover Until 2010 : Seventy-three percent of accountants pointed to 2010 as the year the economy will recover. Seventeen percent said that the economy will bounce back in the fourth quarter 2009, while 8% said the third quarter and 1% said the second quarter of 2009.

“It is clear that the recession and financial crisis is having a dramatic impact on accountants' job responsibilities, but thankfully this profession continues to be one of the few areas of the economy showing job growth,” said Kathy Gans , senior vice president of Ajilon Finance. “At Ajilon, we currently have over 1,000 job opportunities for finance and accounting professionals through the country, which include both full-time and temporary assignments. We have also seen a recent uptick in consulting projects as our 150,000 clients in North America have become more optimistic about the state of the economy. Out-of-work accountants should take this time to update their resumes, network and sharpen their skills as well as connect with specialty recruiters like Ajilon that have the inside track on finance and accounting jobs.”

Ajilon Finance offers the following tips to accounting and finance professionals on cutting costs for their employers:

  • Stay focused: While cutting costs is essential during a recession, it can be easy to lose sight of the most important task – fostering and growing business profitability. Finance managers should stay close to all internal and external stakeholders and work to anticipate their changing needs in the current turbulent business environment.
  • Follow the stimulus: We will begin to see the effects of the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act in the next several months. Company leaders should think about how this capital infusion will affect their company's business so it can be leveraged as the market changes.
  • Pay attention to TARP: Companies should look at their accounting and legal teams to ensure they have the talent available to handle increased government regulation and oversight should their business receive funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
  • Decrease carbon footprints : An easy way to trim costs is to reduce an office's energy usage. Significant costs savings can be realized by turning off office equipment at night including desktops, copiers and fax machines.


This survey of 688 accountants was conducted on March 12 as part of the Institute of Management Accountants Inside Talk Webinar Series hosted by Ajilon Finance.

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