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Business

Hedge funds looking for accountants

According to this recent post on JobsintheMoney’s CareerWire blog, hedge funds are looking for accountants and paying top dollar for them:

The Rothstein Kass report, The Compensation Conundrum, makes clear that even for non-investment professionals, hedge funds pay better than both Wall Street and corporate America.

For instance, senior accountants at surveyed firms earned $71,000 median salary for 2007 and were expected to receive bonuses centering around 50 percent – adding up to total pay of $106,000. Total compensation ranged from $96,000 to $124,000, varying little with firm size.

Those are pretty impressive numbers. This is no doubt going to continue to create pressure on public accounting firms and companies trying to hang on to their professionals.

I don’t personally know anyone who has left public accounting to go to a hedge fund, but with salaries like those above, it won’t be too long before I do. Salary shouldn’t be the only reason one leaves public accounting, and indeed I don’t think it often is. There are certainly some for whom the almighty dollar is the sole reason to leave, but most go somewhere they believe offers a better long-term career opportunity, and possibly work-life balance improvement.

Work-life balance is one area where I don’t think hedge funds have an advantage, even over public accounting, which is notorious for the long hours and demoralizing “busy season”. At a hedge fund you still work for clients, as in public accounting, which is the main reason why things get as hectic as they do. My peers would be wise to keep that in mind when they consider the seemingly greener pastures of hedge funds.

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Business

Soaring price of oil leads to shortage of accountants

Scotland is beginning to sound a lot like Alberta:

The booming oil price is fuelling an accountancy recruitment crisis in Aberdeen as other firms struggle to match the salaries being paid by the cash-rich energy companies.

Multinationals such as BP, Shell and Schlumberger are taking advantage of the near-record price of a barrel to pay top dollar for professional services as the North Sea continues to thrive.

Here in Canada the tar sands in Alberta are driving incredible economic growth in that province, leading to a shortage of accounting professionals. It isn’t just accountants, of course, who are being wooed west — the region could use all kinds of labour.

It hasn’t come to the point where I’m receiving phone calls from recruiters with jobs in the oil patch, but I have a feeling those already out west are. I know there are plenty of opportunities within my firm to move west and help reinforce our offices in the province.

Ontario has been particular hard hit by the rising loonie, as it is Canada’s manufacturing heartland. Many businesses here depend on exports to the US, and these days their products are much more expensive than they used to be down south.

I have a feeling we’re just beginning to feel the effects of the rising price of oil combined with a weak US dollar, here in Canada and around the world.

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Business

Banning Facebook sends the wrong message

Facebook office signJeremy Newman, the Managing Director of BDO Stoy Hayward in the UK, provides real leadership and an inspiration across the pond to me and no doubt others who read about his management style and philosophy. He writes about workplaces banning Facebook, which is very popular right now here in Toronto among employers.

I am not sure how effective this will be at increasing staff productivity – which is presumably the intended effect. To be consistent I guess they also need to ban personal telephone calls and emails during office hours. Personally I prefer to trust people.

That’s a breath of fresh air coming from someone in his position. I would expect the employees of Stoy Hayward appreciate being treated like responsible adults. From the comments, by “russell”:

Rather than banning things companies should look to understand what makes it such a powerful medium and explore opportunities to engage with employees through such social networking sites.

He’s on the mark with the sentiment, which some businesses have already taken to heart. Especially in the profession, where potential employees are already users, keen on new technology, especially when it helps them meet people and build relationships, and looking for something to differentiate between what are essentially different flavours of vanilla.

Banning any site sends existing employees the wrong message, and failing to leverage the social network will hinder the growth of the firm when it comes to attracting the top young minds entering the profession.

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Business

Canadian dollar flirts with parity this week

It’s pretty cool that the Canadian dollar reached parity with the US during trading this past week, because I wasn’t even born back in 1976, the last time we were there. To say there’s been a sudden upsurge in Canadian flag-waving is an understatement, but the increase is due to the greenback’s weakening, as the Post points out.

Over the past five years, the United States has been struggling with declining economic conditions, including crippling deficits, that have pummelled the greenback against a large number of major currencies. It did not help, either, that U.S. interest rates have been lower than most of the rest of the world, making the currency less appealing to investors who want yield.

All this results in weakened demand for Canadian exports, which puts a lot of pressure on Canadian manufacturers that depend on business with the US. The “declining economic conditions” mentioned above are also going to drive down demand from Americans for Canadian goods, so businesses here would do well to continue diversifying their customer base in other markets.

As for me, I’m going shopping in Buffalo.

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Business

Weekend reading

Small Is Essential

At 37signals, a company with just eight employees whose Web-based collaboration software is used by thousands of small businesses, there isn’t time to sit around a conference room sipping latte and deconstructing memos. Come to think of it, there isn’t even a company conference room. There are just a couple of cubicles, loads of brainpower and three simple goals: make useful business software, make it easy to run, make money selling it. Repeat.

Fraud too pervasive to roll back SarbOx

In a new examination of 374 companies accused of securities fraud between 1997 and 2002, an average of seven people were implicated in each case… CEOs were implicated in nearly 90% of the cases examined. Next came CFOs, 78%. Then board directors, 40%; vice presidents, 36%; COOs, 20%; controllers, 19%; and general counsels, 7%. Big accounting firms were implicated in 18% of the cases.

The End of Independent Advice & Counsel

When a consultancy offers solutions, it has made its bed with a handful of technology or other vendors that will provide some portion of the service/product combination that will be sold to clients. When a consultant is truly independent and objective, they are solution independent and will help clients select the best solution for the client (not for the integrator).

PwC: Internal Auditors May Be Missing Risks

Between departments and across the enterprise, more parties have gotten involved in assessing risk and contributing to the company’s risk management process. That has led to some confusion and overlapping of responsibilities. One-third of the internal audit managers surveyed said their companies conduct multiple risk assessments across the organization, but the majority do not coordinate their work or results. The effect is inefficient and redundant presentations before audit committees.

Must I Play Golf To Get Ahead?

In a 2004 survey of 1,000 women golfers, 73% said that the game had helped them develop important business relationships, and over half said that being able to talk knowledgeably about golf had contributed to their success.