June 23, 2018

New Study Validates Old Accountant Joke

This morning I linked to a story about a study that ties the willingness to manage earnings to successful careers in corporate accounting departments. This is not a remarkable study because of its findings insomuch as it is a remarkable study because of its timing. I just figured the equation CREATIVE ACCOUNTING = SUCCESSFUL ACCOUNTING CAREER had been proven decades ago.

Think about it. One version of an old joke goes like this:

Have you heard the one about the company that needed to hire a chief corporate accountant? In the last interview session each finalist was given financial information and asked, “What are the net earnings?” All applicants but one dutifully computed the net earnings but none of them got the job. The candidate who landed the position answered the question by replying, “What do you want your net earnings to be?”

What's hilarious is this new study validates that old joke:

In a study that suggests fighting corporate number-fudging is not just a matter of tweaking a few rules, accounting experts at the University of South Carolina said they surveyed 41 executive recruiters and 57 finance and accounting executives.

The participants were asked to choose between two candidates for an accounting job opening with similar backgrounds, but sharply contrasting values.

Nearly 88 percent of those surveyed chose candidates viewed as more congenial to bending the rules to achieve corporate goals, such as smoother earnings, according to the study.

That's the joke! Nine out of 10 times, companies are going with the guy or gal who answers, "What do you want the number to be?"

And it makes perfect sense. Do corporate managers want accountants who compile bulletproof numbers into pristine financial statements that no one dare question? Of course not! They want to push the earnings envelope to satisfy investors, analysts, naysayers, haters, former CFOs who know a thing or two about fudging numbers, in-laws and anyone else who has the audacity to scoff at the financial achievements of their company. Sure, an auditor might come around and start asking questions, but seriously, when has that ever stopped anyone?

So get out there, creative accountants! Success awaits you!

Corporate earnings management linked to accountant hiring: study [Reuters]

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Job of the Week: Do You Have a Preternatural Ability for GAAP Disclosures?

hire me2.jpgSince there seems to be some unhappy campers out there we’ll take a moment of your day to tell you about a position that might make you less miserable or hopefully better compensated:
Company: Morgan Stanley
Location: New York
Title: Associate/Manager
Description: Associate or Manager for our Legal Entity Accounting & Disclosure Group. Responsibilities will include gaining an understanding of the firm’s equity financing products, derivatives and securities lending business in order to assist in producing and analyzing many of the division’s financial accounting disclosures.
Skills Required: BS or BA in Finance and/or Accounting, CPA preferred; 3-5 years of experience in Public Accounting and/or financial services industry; Must have thorough understanding of FAS 133, FAS 140, FIN 46, FAS 157 and FAS 161 FASB pronouncements
See the full description at the GC Career Center and if this position doesn’t tickle your get your ass off the couch/ship-jumping bone, go to the main page and find your next temporary dream job.

Recruiting: Considering the Non-Big 4 Employers

BelushiCollege.jpgAs recruiting continues this week, we’ll put out the idea of opting to starting your career with a firm or company as opposed to starting at a Big 4 firm. Regardless of the Big 4’s dominance of the BW list, there are several smaller firms that make good offers and all businesses need number crunchers to track all the bloody money.
And this year, since many of the Big 4 don’t appear to be making as many offers, going with a national or regional firm or private company becomes a serious option for many recruits.
For the recruits out there, are you giving serious consideration to taking a position with a non-Big 4 firm? For the rest of you, is starting your career at a Big 4 the only way to go or can relative happiness and success be found elsewhere?
Discuss in the comments.