News the new way

Last night, protests that have been taking place in Toronto for the past few weeks at Queen’s Park and the US Consulate spilled onto the Gardiner Expressway, the elevated freeway that runs through downtown.

It was this event that brought home to me on a personal level the way the world is changing when it comes to how news is disseminated, and the role Twitter is playing in ushering in this new era.

Tamil protest on the GardinerMy condo looks over the freeway and I was able to watch the protests from above as they progressed through the evening. It started around 6:30pm and lasted until nearly midnight, when the last of the diehards finally called it a day.

When I wasn’t taking pictures of the crowd below, I was glued to my Twitter client of choice (for this week anyway), DestroyTwitter, reading the updates coming in from people watching the action from different vantage points.

All you needed to do follow the trend was search for #tamil or #tamilprotest. People weren’t just commenting on how crazy it all looked from above, but were also posting links to background information about the protests and the reason for them.

The most valuable aspect to me of this new way to experience current events is the connection I felt to everyone else in the city inconvenienced by the shutdown of the busy thoroughfare. There are a variety of points of view on the intelligence of the tactic itself, and everyone is sharing theirs via Twitter. It’s just such an incredible tool to connect people.

Follow my updates @neilmcintyre and connect with me!


UFE results this Friday

It’s that time of the year again and I’m feeling nostalgic. It was just over a year ago last year when I learned that I had passed the final hurdle to obtaining my much sought-after CA designation (notwithstanding that pesky experience requirement which continues to elude me), the UFE.

This year’s results are out this Friday, and I have many friends sitting on pins and needles waiting to see if they passed. My office is having another party, as is the tradition, to celebrate that evening. I’m actually on the social committee so I was involved with the planning.

The night before there is another tradition. The offices in the Toronto region all get together informally (not a sanctioned firm event in other words) and go out in downtown Toronto, inevitably joining CA candidates from other firms and their well-wishers at a club or bar for some partying. The goal is to celebrate the efforts of all writers, not just those who will pass the next day.

Good times. Enjoy the evening(s), writers. And good luck.


Big Four and Mintz again part of Top GTA Employers list

The Toronto Star has released the 2008 edition of their Greater Toronto’s Top 50 Employers list, and it is no surprise that accounting firms are well represented once again.

All four of the largest accounting firms, the Big Four, made the list, along with a local single office firm, Mintz & Partners.

The reasons why they made the list are similar, with most touting days off to study for the UFE, personal days on top of regular vacation, support for families and volunteering, and matching RSP contributions.

Still no mention of 20% time for personal projects though.

Accounting Blogs

Accounting gets a shot of adrenaline

Bill Kennedy’s getting it done at Energized Accounting, a relatively new blog hosted by Google’s Blogger that so far has been host to some inspirational posts for me. The latest is all about a favourite topic of mine, data visualization:

If you want effective communications, you have to take responsibility for both the sending and the receiving of the message. You have to take into account how your stakeholders take in messages. Some people are just confused by spreadsheets.

Bill’s a CA and is from Toronto, making him a pretty cool guy right away. But his posts reveal his enthusiasm for helping his clients. He talks a lot about Microsoft Dynamics GP, which a lot of my clients use as well. I’m hoping to learn a thing or two that might help me help my clients!

From the sounds of things we’re on the same page in terms of providing clients with their financial information in innovative and illuminating ways.

On an interesting side note, Bill links to Francine’s blog and labels it satire! Oh, if only.


Firm using Facebook to recruit in Toronto

I’ve grown a bit tired of Facebook lately. I think it’s because what originally was a torrent of friend additions has gradually slowed to a trickle. (I meet lots of new people through my job but I doubt they want the auditor on their Facebook!)

It seems I’m not the only one who is questioning the system, but for other reasons. The lack of openness is leading some to compare it to AOL.

But despite our misgivings, the beast continues to grow. My city, Toronto, is apparently the “capital of Facebook”:

As a city, we have more members than New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. Thirteen per cent of Torontonians have signed up. We not only have more members than any other city – 670,038 as of this week – we have more groups within the site talking about the goings on of our town.

What does this mean? The value of Facebook to its members increases exponentially as more people join, and for Torontonians, the value of a Facebook account is much higher than it would be for someone from, say, Saskatoon (29,475 members).

I wrote about Facebook before and compared it to LinkedIn. In the post I linked to some accounting-specific Facebook groups, including one I’ll mention again today: Ernst & Young Toronto.

I searched Facebook for groups for Toronto accountants, and the search turned up nothing very good other than the above group. Why are no more accounting firms in Toronto taking advantage of the massive percentage of the population using the site?

Recruiters are taking advantage of the clustering of Toronto accountants, as this screen grab from the Chartered Accountants of Canada group shows.

How long before firms in Toronto realize the recruiting potential of Facebook, as Ernst & Young has?