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Time vs. Money: Making everyday activities more accessible could help attract top talent

accounting principals survey digs into which amenities at work are most valued by employees, one being able to bring your dog to work

As mentioned in our previous post, our recent Time Vs. Money survey left us with a lot to think about. We conducted a telephone survey of 1,024 working adults (18 years and older) to provide an overview of working Americans’ attitudes on compensation in the workplace related to salary, time off, benefits and perks. On top of findings regarding salary and time off, we found a lot of surprising information about balancing work and life. When it comes to onsite amenities, having a gym could be the way to lure in top talent, and despite gender differences, American workers want time with their families.


Family time is the priority despite other gender differences


Men and women use their spare time differently, but both agree that spending time with family is the priority. Americans are much more likely to say they will work more hours in 2014 compared with last year, than they are to say they will work fewer hours (19 percent vs. 5 percent). Over seven in 10 (74 percent) Americans anticipate working the same as they did in 2013.

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Time vs. Money: Survey shows American workers value cash over time off

accounting principals survey time vs money

Here at Accounting Principals, we’re always looking for the latest industry and workplace insight to share with our clients and job seekers. This year, we conducted a telephone survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,024 working adults 18 years of age and older, living in the United States. This study provides an overview of working Americans’ attitudes on compensation in the workplace related to salary, time off, benefits and perks. In this new blog series, we’ll break down the results. First, let’s talk money.

Cash is king for most Americans


On of the first key findings is that money is more important than time for most Americans. Cash comes first, as the overwhelming majority (79 percent) would prefer a 5 percent raise instead of an extra week of vacation. (20 percent). Income level and seniority within a company makes no difference when it comes to their preference.

This is evidenced by Americans negotiation habits. Prior to accepting a job, Americans are most likely to negotiate on salary (30 percent) compared to a flexible schedule (15 percent) or additional time off (10 percent).


accounting principals survey results show americans value money over time

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Choosing an Accounting Career: 5 Key Stats to Follow


The process of committing to a career path can be terrifying. You may have heard that accounting is a great specialty, but is it the right one for you? There are so many variables that are out of your control, and you may feel like you’re jumping into the unexpected.

Don’t worry.

The beauty of an accounting degree is that it’s incredibly versatile. You can easily flex between career paths, explore new specialties, and migrate into leadership roles — you can even start your own accounting practice.

You face a world of opportunity.

In order to fully pursue these opportunities, however, you need to understand some key macro-level trends. Here are are 5 to help you navigate this challenging career decision:

1. The accounting industry experienced a 2.8% annual growth rate between ’09-’14

The past five years have been a time of significant economic instability — and yet, the accounting industry has remained steady, weathering the storm and staying intact from drastic cuts.

IBISWorld explains, “Demand for accounting services remained relatively steady during the recession, as demand from clients involved in bankruptcies or corporate restructuring offset losses.”

The key lesson to learn is that accounting is a profession that weathers any storm. It’s a ready career path that accelerates with economic peaks — but is also strong enough to resist the dips.

Click To Tweet Tweet This: The accounting industry experienced a 2.8% annual growth rate between ’09-’14. @acctprincipals

2. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 13.1% growth for accountants between 2012 and 2022

What’s important to keep in mind, however, is that this growth isn’t astronomical — it’s as fast as the average for all professions.

So what does this mean?

Accounting is a healthy career path, but it won’t necessarily be a high-growth industry. Opportunities for advancement will be strong, but there will be potential to plateau. For that reason, it is absolutely crucial that you round-out your skill set with a strong technical foundation — you may need to pursue growth opportunities in other parts of the business.

3. Accounting ranks #3 on the U.S. News list of best business jobs

Overall scores are based on 10-year growth volume, 10-year growth percentage, median salary, job prospects, employment rate, stress-level, and work-life balance.

There is high upward mobility, average stress, and lots of flexibility.

Not to mention, accounting is a specialized skill — which means that it’s entirely possible to transition into your own practice.

4. In 2012, demand for accounting grads reached an all-time high

According to the Journal of Accountancy, there is a recruiting war for new talent. If you’re a new grad looking to gain a foothold in the workforce, accounting is a great track to pursue.

Keep in mind that you can always specialize and change career paths later — accounting is a great way to start building your long-term trajectory.


Despite the four trends listed above, the accounting industry still suffers from two key challenges, according to the Journal of Accountancy: (1) a shortage of doctoral professors and (2) lack of diversity in the field.

It’s up to the new generation, however, to change the status quo and influence the outcome of these trends.

For more information on how we can help you choose the right accounting career, contact your local Accounting Principals office today.

10 Tips to Be a Better Finance or Accounting Manager | Accounting Illustrated

Our video covers tips from professionals in accounting and finance on being a more effective manager. This edition of Accounting Illustrated provides the top ten tips for becoming a better finance or accounting manger. To get these tips, we polled entry and mid-level candidates to find out what they look for in an efficient, effective and successful manager. Watch the video below to learn how to become a more effective manager.

Accounting Illustrated: 10 Tips to Be a Better Finance or Accounting Manager from AccountingPrincipals

10 Tips For A More Effective Manager

Be sure to follow these ten tips to become a better financial manager.

Tip #1: Improve communication skills and be transparent.

To be the most effective manager that you can be, it is vital to have open lines of communication with your employees. Communicate your expectations clearly and often, consider the employee’s unique perspective, and encourage them to ask questions or voice concerns openly.

Tip #2: Develop your own skills.

If you expect your employees to develop their technology skills, expand their business knowledge and get certifications, you should lead by example. Your employees will admire your tenacity and dedication to continue to learn and better yourself.

Tip #3 Deal with conflict.

This is really important. Don’t put off approaching your employees to discuss issues or conflicts. The longer you wait and allow conflict to fester, the more credibility you lose in their eyes. Uncover the issues quickly, and come to a reasonable resolution as soon as possible.

Tip #4: Set high, but realistic expectations.

Challenge your people, but make their goals achievable. This will show that you really understand your employees’ skill sets and capabilities, and that you have confidence in them. By empowering them to accomplish more, your good employees will work harder, get better, and ultimately achieve success for the whole team.

Tip #5: Be open to new ideas and new perspectives.

As a manager you are privy to a variety of different perspectives and ideas. Tap into these. Use them as a competitive advantage.  Definitely don’t expect others to conform to one way of thinking. Embrace these unique viewpoints – you could uncover ways to be more innovative or efficient.

Tip #6: Take a break.

Hey, sometimes you have to work through lunch. It happens. Just make sure this is the exception and not the norm. Taking a few minutes throughout the day to clear your head and prioritize can increase your own productivity, and also sets an example for your employees to do the same.

Tip #7: Recognize your big-picture impact.

As a manager, you have the potential to change someone’s career, and sometimes even their life. That’s a big responsibility, so take it seriously.

Tip #8: Listen more than you talk.

Before you can manage your team, you must listen to their concerns, questions, and opinions. Make a point to pause in your conversations more often, and really listen, instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next. You’ll be surprised about how much you’ll learn about your employees, what motivates them and what they’re looking for from you.

Tip #9: Figure out employees’ personal and professional motivators.

This is directly related to listening. Pay attention to each of your employees’ individual motivators. A one-size-fits-all system for rewarding good work is likely to only fit a select few and may lead to disengaged employees. Motivation has to happen on an individual level. The best way to incentivize or reward an employee is to listen to and observe what motivates them – both professionally and personally.

Tip #10: Learn from your mistakes.

In order to grow as a manager, embrace the mistakes that you make. And, just as important, own up to the mistakes that you make as a team – after all, these are your people and your responsibility. Don’t be ashamed of failures – use them as motivation to improve your team and your results, and to be a better manager and a better financial professional.

Click To Tweet Tweet This: When strong #managers make mistakes, they transform them into opportunities to improve themselves and their team.

Hopefully these 10 tips will give you a better understanding of what your people are looking for in a manager, and help you lead your accounting and finance teams to success. For more tips on becoming a more effective manager, managing your workforce, or to add top finance and accounting talent to your team, contact an Accounting Principals office near you.

Preparing for an Audit

preparing for an auditAn audit can be nerve-wracking for the most diligent of accounting teams—especially when there are cross-functional stakeholders involved in the process. Oftentimes, audits can catch your company by surprise, even if you’re keeping great records and fully prepared.

Record-keeping is only the first step to successfully navigate an audit. As an accountant, you probably know your company—inside and out. To the casual observer—and even your CEO— it can be intimidating to have an auditor in your building, peering over your shoulder.

Preparing for an audit is equal parts emotional and logistical. Here are the most important steps for your organization to take:

Step 1: Educate Internal Stakeholders

As an accountant, you’ve probably been through many audits—you’re prepared. To your CEO, CMO, and CIO, however, audits are unfamiliar territory. Don’t let them hang in the dark, wondering what’s going on. Start the process with a team meeting to educate everyone about what’s going on.

It’s important to reinforce your accounting team’s leadership in navigating this process. The CEO may naturally want to stay involved—and she should rightfully be looped in. Remember, however, that accountants speak the language of other accountants. It is absolutely critical that your company’s accounting team takes charge.

Step 2: Develop a Workflow

Auditors are the opposite of your adversaries. They’re looking to work with your team to reach a common objective—as quickly as possible. That’s why it’s important to welcome your auditor as part of your organization.

Work together to establish common timelines and milestones. You can even lighten the situation by taking your auditor out to lunch.

At the end of the day, you both want to land on the same side of the fence. The more you work together, the easier this process will be.

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Finance and Accounting Jobs Report: March 2014


February’s 175,000 Paints an Optimistic Picture

According to the March jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 175,000 jobs were added last month. These numbers came as a surprise to economists, as the projected job numbers were roughly 25,000 lower for the month of February due to the very slow growth in the months of December (75K) and January (113K).

The unemployment rate remains virtually unchanged at just 6.7 percent. This is because many economists agreed that job creation should be more consistent month over month in order to lower the national unemployment rate.

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Pushing an Accounting Agenda

think big lightbulb written on a black chalkboard

Accounting is a business’s lifeblood. On the surface, it may seem like finance is simply crunching numbers to support employer’s growth, analytics, and operational objectives.

That’s only one part of the equation. Accounting, as a business function, is so much more.

Your team is the one team that sees everything. You have the most accurate and transparent view of your business’s health.

Accounting teams — more so than any other business unit — are in a unique position to lead.

The process begins with aligning your unique perspective with top-line business goals. Here are the steps that accounting leaders can follow to push an impactful business agenda.


Step 1: Make the Value Clear

C-suite teams care about top-line metrics. Accountants care about the details. A core challenge that detail oriented professionals typically face is the ability to ‘see’ the big picture.

When pitching an accounting-driven project, it’s important that you communicate the details as well as the big picture. Don’t let your brilliant idea become lost in heavy jargon.

You can start by practicing your pitch with sales and marketing teams. Make sure that everyone in the company can understand the P&L value of the initiative that you’re pitching.

Step 2: Get Buy-In

A project is much more likely to take off if you have multiple stakeholders backing it. That’s why it’s so important to share your value proposition from multiple teams.

How will the project you’re leading benefit your company’s marketing, product, engineering, and sales teams?

Push your accounting agenda by acting as your organization’s most influential connector. If you’re not sure where to get started, reach out to your sales team for advice — these team members spend their entire careers as ‘professional convincers.’

Step 3: Wield Power with Numbers

Numbers are an accounting team’s most powerful asset — use them wisely to communicate what’s happening behind the scenes at your organization.

Out of anyone, you have the strongest familiarity with three of your company’s most important metrics: cost, revenue, and margin.

Add credibility to your accounting agenda by building a tie-in to these core metrics. Show how you’re going to cut costs and boost revenue.

Step 4: Recruit Multiple Teams

Great ideas need more than planning — you need the right team to execute your big vision. Look outside your accounting department, and get multiple business functions involved.

The more perspectives you can bring to the table, the more empowered you’ll be to complete your project.

There’s a caveat to this guideline, however. At all costs, do not loop 30 people into a monster-brainstorming meeting. Your team members are time-strapped. You need to make sure that you make the most of every minute spent together.

With ‘too many cooks in the kitchen,’ you’ll struggle to get anything done. Streamline your meetings to bare-bones personnel.

Final Thoughts

Lead through influence. You are in a strong position to pitch solutions to help grow your business’s bottom line. Think like you’re selling, but stay grounded in your numbers — the combination will be powerful. Most importantly, be sure that you have a strong team that is ready to back you up and drive results! We can help. Contact your local office today to see how we can connect you with the right talent for your team.

Audit and accounting career paths for managers

You’ve worked hard to get ahead in your accounting career, but where will your career path lead you next? In our new infographic, we provide a road map for audit and accounting managers looking to advance throughout their careers.

What’s the best audit and accounting career path for aspiring CFOs?

If you are an audit or accounting professional, chances are your ultimate career destination is the CFO’s office. However, while there are many ways to get there, and many jobs you can hold along the way, there are few routes that have proven to lead to the executive suite. For instance, according to a poll of CFOs, the best accounting jobs to have before becoming a CFO are deputy CFO and financial controller.

What will you make when you make your way up the corporate ladder?

Even if you don’t end up as a CFO, you want to make the most informed and practical decisions at every step of your accounting career path. Our infographic can help by giving you an understanding of average base salaries for a variety of accounting and audit leadership positions.

For example, if you are exploring job opportunities and are weighing assistant controller positions versus accounting director positions, you’d want to steer in the direction of accounting director. That’s because accounting directors earn an average base salary of $127,487 – about 34 percent more than assistant controllers.

Explore your audit and accounting career paths

In addition to salary info, this enlightening infographic also offers:

  • Five essential tips for becoming an accounting and audit leader
  • The skills that modern CFOs need to be successful
  • Events and groups that can help you throughout your career
  • Detailed job descriptions
  • And more!

Audit and accounting career paths for managers infographic

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Five Non-Traditional Jobs for Accountants

woman using laptop

An accountant’s career path is usually clear-cut. Start out with experience as a financial analyst or auditor. Take the CFA or CPA exams. Refine your management skills to rise through your organization’s leadership ranks — maybe even become a chief financial officer.

What happens, however, when your passions change — when you want something new? An accounting degree is one of the most beneficial for navigating a new career. Here are five to consider:

1. Entrepreneur

Your time as an accountant will expose you to many different clients and business needs. You’ll eventually start to see gaps for products and services that should exist — but don’t. That gap could be your next job.

Consider the story of Vincenzo Villamena, founder at Online Tax Man, a boutique CPA firm specializing in tax preparation for entrepreneurs, U.S. expats, and other individuals in special situations.

After starting his career at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in the auditing and transaction services groups, he was able to learn about transactions, international taxation, and valuation. He realized, however, that entrepreneurship would be an ideal path.

“I’ve been splitting time between New York and South America, running my office virtually, and meeting many new friends and clients along the way,” says Villamena.

To make the transition to entrepreneur, you need an idea for a business, potential clients, and enough savings to keep you afloat if your situation changes.

2. Business Analyst

As an accountant, you deal with a particular type of company data — profits and losses. Keep in mind, however, that these metrics are a small piece of the pie. Organizations need to see the forest and the trees.

That’s where business analysts come in. As a business analyst, you’ll be synthesizing data from multiple sources to help your organization see how different initiatives fit together.

To make the transition to business analyst, you’ll want to learn at least one programming language — like Python, and ramp up your statistics skills — try Udacity for free quantitative tutorials.

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Tweet This: Looking for a change? Here are five non-traditional #job opportunities for #accountants: @acctprincipals

3. Nonprofit Accountant

Are you passionate about a particular cause or organization? These organizations need accountants, and your skills will be extremely valuable.

Nonprofits can be extremely flexible organizations with an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mindset. Even as an accountant, you’ll have an opportunity to engage with different departments and job functions.

To make the transition into the nonprofit sector, you will need to identify organizations that align with your values. Keep in mind that you may not find the same salary at a nonprofit that you would at a corporate gig — you need to keep these financial considerations in mind.

4. Communications Strategist

The business community needs communications experts who can distill complex concepts into an easy-to-follow form.

Communications experts help businesses forge this path. You will help your company develop its PR, media relations, or blogging strategy.

To become a communications consultant, you would start practicing your writing skills. Learn about how companies are setting up their blogging programs, for instance. Create your own blog, or ask to contribute to your employer’s.

5. Information Technology

Software and information systems play a major role in accounting — bookkeeping is exponentially more efficient for businesses that aren’t using physical books.

Accounting knowledge is crucial for building these systems.

If you’re interested in pursuing a technology role, additional education will be helpful. Look for programs or courses in management information systems, computer programming, and software development.

What now?

Test alternate career paths by shadowing other teams at your company. Your accounting degree is invaluable — beyond your employer’s finance or accounting team. Now is as great a time as any to venture beyond your comfort zone and explore. Ready to start a new career adventure? We can help! View our current job openings and get started today!

Four Points to Make When Writing a Cover Letter

black pen on top of resume next to a computer keyboardCover letters are often overlooked; many people are under the mistaken assumption that they aren’t even needed anymore. I’ve heard some employers say they don’t even look at them — yet I’ve heard others say they wouldn’t even consider a candidate without one. Why take that risk? Add your cover letter to every resume you send out.

Cover letters are useful in that they serve as the introduction that causes a potential employer to consider your qualifications. A cover letter gives a brief overview of your career history — the resume is your career blueprint.

The following four points that should be in your cover letter are put in slightly silly terms, but that only makes my illustration universal:

This is who I know

If you have a name to drop, the first sentence is a great spot to drop it: “Sonia Smith in your accounts payable department suggested I submit my resume for this potential job opening for Accounts Payable Manager. She and I worked together at ABC & Company in the accounting department and she can be included as a reference of the performance of my work.

This is who I am

“With over 15 years’ experience in accounts payable and receivable at a high-end luggage company, I know my expertise will make a strong contribution to your luxury sportswear organization. Additionally, my earlier experience at Prada International adds to my knowledge of this unique industry.”

This is what I can do

“Our company’s AP/AR tracking system was antiquated and faulty. I successfully integrated a new software system that managed the company’s accounts, vendors, payments, invoices, billing arrangements and more. This reduced labor time and saved the company thousands in bank fees and missing invoices. I was given a bonus for this six-month project.”

This is what I want

“I know my experience would be a great match for the open position of Accounts Payable Manager. My leadership experience speaks for itself. I’ve attached my resume for your review and would love to come in and discuss this position with you. Will you be available next week?”

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Tweet This: Focus on this in your cover letter: who you know, who you are, what you can do, what you want. @ErinKennedyCPRW

See how succinct this is? Often, a cover letter can be difficult to write because you aren’t sure exactly how to say what should be stated. But if you start here, and remember these four basic points, you have a framework to build on. You can flesh out these four points with a few extra sentences but still keep your cover letter to one page. After you write it, have a grammar-obsessed friend proofread it for you. Use your cover letter to introduce yourself to the reader, and the resume to be your sales tool.

If you are still struggling with your cover letter, consider having an executive resume writer craft it for you. It’s a small investment that will save you hours of head-scratching or frustration. You will soon be on your way to getting the dream job you want!


Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW, BS/HR

Erin Kennedy is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 14+ best-selling career books and has written hundreds of career-related articles. Erin is a member of Career Directors International (CDI), National Resume Writers Association (NRWA), Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW), and Career Thought Leaders (CTL), Erin also sits on CDI’s Credentialing Committee for certification candidates and serves as a Mentor for CDI’s Member Mentoring Committee. Erin has written thousands of resumes for executives and professionals.