A New Bottom Line for Next Generation Accountants

Future Finance Professionals Will Be Visionaries, Strategists and Technical

Experts, Research Shows



Apr 10, 2001, 01:00 ET from Robert Half International

    MENLO PARK, Calif., April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Tomorrow's accounting and
 finance professionals will shatter longstanding stereotypes as they shift from
 being backroom statisticians to boardroom strategists.  Accountants will also
 play a greater role in technology and information systems initiatives over the
 next five years, according to 39 percent of 1,400 chief financial officers
 surveyed by Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:   RHI).  These are just two of
 the major findings of a recent research project conducted by RHI, the world's
 first and largest staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting
 and finance professionals.
     The objective of the Next Generation Accountant project was to determine
 how today's trends will shape the future of the accounting and finance
 professions, and to identify the skills and competencies accountants will need
 most to be successful.  In addition to drawing on its expertise gathered over
 more than 50 years in financial staffing and recruitment, RHI commissioned
 surveys of 1,400 chief financial officers nationwide and interviewed a wide
 range of leading experts in accounting and academia.
 
     The Accountant as Strategic Advisor
     "Increasingly, accountants will be relied upon to provide a predictive
 interpretation of financial data," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of
 Robert Half International.  "A finance professional's analytical abilities
 make his or her involvement in strategic business decisions critical."  In
 fact, in a survey conducted for the Next Generation Accountant project, CFOs
 predicted that five years from now issues and responsibilities outside of
 traditional accounting functions will occupy 37 percent of a senior
 accountant's time.
     In their new strategic roles, accounting and finance professionals will be
 expected to provide big-picture thinking and an understanding of how financial
 data impacts every aspect of a business.  Many accounting professionals are
 already removing the word "accountant" from their job titles, opting instead
 to refer to themselves as analysts, forecasters, advisors or financial
 managers, according to RHI's research.
 
     The Influence of Technology
     "Tomorrow's financial professionals must have a firm grasp of technology,
 including new hardware and software applications, data mining efforts, online
 assurance and security issues, Internet engineering, and wireless
 technologies," Messmer said.  "They will use the Internet to store and
 retrieve information and, as a result, will interact more frequently with CIOs
 and other technology staff."
     Eighty-two percent of CFOs surveyed for the Next Generation Accountant
 project said their accounting departments have become more immersed in their
 companies' technology initiatives in the last five years.  More specifically,
 almost half (49 percent) of CFOs said their accounting departments have become
 more involved with e-commerce projects in the last three years.
     Not surprisingly, when asked which skills, aside from financial expertise,
 will be most important for financial professionals in the future, CFOs ranked
 technology expertise first (44 percent).  In addition, 52 percent of CFOs
 polled said technology training will be the top priority for their accounting
 staff in the next two years.
 
     The Importance of "Soft" Skills
     The team-based workplace of the future will require solid coaching and
 mentoring skills, as well as the ability to manage and motivate others, RHI's
 research shows.  When asked which interpersonal skill is valued most in
 accounting candidates, 38 percent of CFOs surveyed said a positive attitude is
 most important, followed by team player skills (30 percent).
     To work with nonfinancial colleagues and clients, accountants will need to
 be strong oral and written communicators who can convey complex information in
 simple terms when necessary.  In addition, accountants in international
 finance will need to be fluent in two or more languages.  When surveyed,
 52 percent of CFOs said the most effective way for accountants to hone these
 skills is through classes and seminars; 36 percent said on-the-job learning
 was most valuable.
 
     Certification and Specialization:  Keys to Career Success
     Some of the hottest specialties for accounting professionals include
 e-commerce, information technology services, forensic accounting, personal
 financial planning, assurance services, environmental accounting and
 international finance, according to experts surveyed.
     Certification will be a considerable asset in the accounting and finance
 fields.  In a recent RHI survey, 85 percent of CFOs said they believe that a
 professional certification, such as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or CMA
 (Certified Management Accountant) designation, can boost career advancement
 opportunities.
 
     Other research highlights:
     -- Thirty-five percent of today's accounting graduates find small- to
 mid-sized companies the most attractive employment environment; 22 percent
 favor large corporations.
     -- Fifty-eight percent of CFOs said they believe the number of women
 accountants who hold management-level positions will increase in the next five
 years.
     -- When CFOs were asked which issue, other than compensation, is most
 important to college graduates when evaluating job offers, 51 percent of
 respondents said the possibility of career advancement; 17 percent said the
 company's financial stability; and 12 percent said corporate culture.
     -- Of CFOs surveyed, 73 percent said they work more than 40 hours each
 week, while 37 percent said their greatest source of stress is increasing
 workloads.
 
     Comprehensive results from the Next Generation Accountant research project
 are available online at www.nextgenaccountant.com.  The web site includes
 complete survey findings, audio and video clips of interviews with leading
 accounting experts, an accounting skills quiz and a career center.  In
 addition, visitors to the site may request a free copy of the 20-page Next
 Generation Accountant research guide or download a copy to view online.
     Robert Half International will host a live webcast and chat on
 Tuesday, April 17, from 8-9 p.m. EDT at www.nextgenaccountant.com to discuss
 the results of their research.  The webcast will feature an educational video
 about the Next Generation Accountant project, real-time polling and a live
 chat.  Additional online chats will be held on the site on Tuesday,
 April 24, and Tuesday, May 1, at 8 p.m. EDT.  The webcast and chat transcripts
 will be archived.
     Robert Half International Inc. is the world's first and largest staffing
 firm specializing in accounting and finance.  The firm's Accountemps,
 Robert Half and RHI Management Resources divisions provide temporary,
 full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively.  The company
 has more than 300 offices throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and
 offers online job search services at www.rhi.com.
 
 

SOURCE Robert Half International
    MENLO PARK, Calif., April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Tomorrow's accounting and
 finance professionals will shatter longstanding stereotypes as they shift from
 being backroom statisticians to boardroom strategists.  Accountants will also
 play a greater role in technology and information systems initiatives over the
 next five years, according to 39 percent of 1,400 chief financial officers
 surveyed by Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:   RHI).  These are just two of
 the major findings of a recent research project conducted by RHI, the world's
 first and largest staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting
 and finance professionals.
     The objective of the Next Generation Accountant project was to determine
 how today's trends will shape the future of the accounting and finance
 professions, and to identify the skills and competencies accountants will need
 most to be successful.  In addition to drawing on its expertise gathered over
 more than 50 years in financial staffing and recruitment, RHI commissioned
 surveys of 1,400 chief financial officers nationwide and interviewed a wide
 range of leading experts in accounting and academia.
 
     The Accountant as Strategic Advisor
     "Increasingly, accountants will be relied upon to provide a predictive
 interpretation of financial data," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of
 Robert Half International.  "A finance professional's analytical abilities
 make his or her involvement in strategic business decisions critical."  In
 fact, in a survey conducted for the Next Generation Accountant project, CFOs
 predicted that five years from now issues and responsibilities outside of
 traditional accounting functions will occupy 37 percent of a senior
 accountant's time.
     In their new strategic roles, accounting and finance professionals will be
 expected to provide big-picture thinking and an understanding of how financial
 data impacts every aspect of a business.  Many accounting professionals are
 already removing the word "accountant" from their job titles, opting instead
 to refer to themselves as analysts, forecasters, advisors or financial
 managers, according to RHI's research.
 
     The Influence of Technology
     "Tomorrow's financial professionals must have a firm grasp of technology,
 including new hardware and software applications, data mining efforts, online
 assurance and security issues, Internet engineering, and wireless
 technologies," Messmer said.  "They will use the Internet to store and
 retrieve information and, as a result, will interact more frequently with CIOs
 and other technology staff."
     Eighty-two percent of CFOs surveyed for the Next Generation Accountant
 project said their accounting departments have become more immersed in their
 companies' technology initiatives in the last five years.  More specifically,
 almost half (49 percent) of CFOs said their accounting departments have become
 more involved with e-commerce projects in the last three years.
     Not surprisingly, when asked which skills, aside from financial expertise,
 will be most important for financial professionals in the future, CFOs ranked
 technology expertise first (44 percent).  In addition, 52 percent of CFOs
 polled said technology training will be the top priority for their accounting
 staff in the next two years.
 
     The Importance of "Soft" Skills
     The team-based workplace of the future will require solid coaching and
 mentoring skills, as well as the ability to manage and motivate others, RHI's
 research shows.  When asked which interpersonal skill is valued most in
 accounting candidates, 38 percent of CFOs surveyed said a positive attitude is
 most important, followed by team player skills (30 percent).
     To work with nonfinancial colleagues and clients, accountants will need to
 be strong oral and written communicators who can convey complex information in
 simple terms when necessary.  In addition, accountants in international
 finance will need to be fluent in two or more languages.  When surveyed,
 52 percent of CFOs said the most effective way for accountants to hone these
 skills is through classes and seminars; 36 percent said on-the-job learning
 was most valuable.
 
     Certification and Specialization:  Keys to Career Success
     Some of the hottest specialties for accounting professionals include
 e-commerce, information technology services, forensic accounting, personal
 financial planning, assurance services, environmental accounting and
 international finance, according to experts surveyed.
     Certification will be a considerable asset in the accounting and finance
 fields.  In a recent RHI survey, 85 percent of CFOs said they believe that a
 professional certification, such as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or CMA
 (Certified Management Accountant) designation, can boost career advancement
 opportunities.
 
     Other research highlights:
     -- Thirty-five percent of today's accounting graduates find small- to
 mid-sized companies the most attractive employment environment; 22 percent
 favor large corporations.
     -- Fifty-eight percent of CFOs said they believe the number of women
 accountants who hold management-level positions will increase in the next five
 years.
     -- When CFOs were asked which issue, other than compensation, is most
 important to college graduates when evaluating job offers, 51 percent of
 respondents said the possibility of career advancement; 17 percent said the
 company's financial stability; and 12 percent said corporate culture.
     -- Of CFOs surveyed, 73 percent said they work more than 40 hours each
 week, while 37 percent said their greatest source of stress is increasing
 workloads.
 
     Comprehensive results from the Next Generation Accountant research project
 are available online at www.nextgenaccountant.com.  The web site includes
 complete survey findings, audio and video clips of interviews with leading
 accounting experts, an accounting skills quiz and a career center.  In
 addition, visitors to the site may request a free copy of the 20-page Next
 Generation Accountant research guide or download a copy to view online.
     Robert Half International will host a live webcast and chat on
 Tuesday, April 17, from 8-9 p.m. EDT at www.nextgenaccountant.com to discuss
 the results of their research.  The webcast will feature an educational video
 about the Next Generation Accountant project, real-time polling and a live
 chat.  Additional online chats will be held on the site on Tuesday,
 April 24, and Tuesday, May 1, at 8 p.m. EDT.  The webcast and chat transcripts
 will be archived.
     Robert Half International Inc. is the world's first and largest staffing
 firm specializing in accounting and finance.  The firm's Accountemps,
 Robert Half and RHI Management Resources divisions provide temporary,
 full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively.  The company
 has more than 300 offices throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and
 offers online job search services at www.rhi.com.
 
 SOURCE  Robert Half International