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Accounting, Finance Staff Still in Demand, Bonuses Intact

Tammy Whitehouse | May 1, 2009

Despite heavy job losses in certain sectors, accountants and finance professions are still in demand, and their pay is fairly steady. The nature of the job is changing, though, focusing more on cost-cutting and risk avoidance.

According to staffing firm Ajilon Finance, accounting and bookkeeping in general added 1,600 new jobs to the U.S. economy in March while most other professions reported job losses. In a recent survey of 600 accounting and finance professionals, 75 percent said the economic crisis has changed their day-to-day jobs with an intensified focus on cost-cutting, risk assessment, general financial advice, and regulatory issues.

Almost half said job prospects for finance and accounting professionals are no worse and perhaps even better than before the crisis, said Ajilon. Now more than ever, companies need financial analysis, budgeting, and forecasting help, and the eventual conversion to International Financial Reporting Standards remains on the horizon, the firm said.

“Risk-assessment initiatives are taking much more of my time and my company’s time,” said John Brausch, vice president and property operations controller for Edens & Avant and the chair elect to the Institute of Management Accountants. “Certainly from a cost-cutting perspective, folks are looking more across companies and across processes to see how they can help the company save money and cut costs.”

Despite the demand for accounting and finance help, professionals are feeling the economic pinch in their compensation. According to a separate survey by the Financial Executives Research Foundation, one-third of finance executives are not getting a salary increase this year, and those receiving an increase are getting a smaller one than usual.

Nearly all executives reported they still received their 2008 bonuses, however. Nearly one-fifth of executives said they received a bonus of 21 percent to 30 percent of their base salary, and an equal number said their bonus was 31 percent to 40 percent of their base salary.