CFOs Offer Career Advice To Class Of 2001

MENLO PARK, CA -- Finance executives have some words of wisdom for this year’s accounting graduates: Consider the “Big Four.” No, they aren’t referring to the largest accounting firms, but rather what they consider the hottest specialties in the profession. In a recent survey, the majority of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled recommended beginning accountants pursue careers in personal financial planning (23 percent), tax accounting (21 percent), e-commerce strategy (17 percent) or assurance services/auditing (12 percent).

The survey was developed by Robert Half, the world’s first and largest staffing service specializing in the accounting, finance and information technology fields. It was part of the firm’s Next Generation Accountant project to determine how today’s trends will shape the future of the accounting and finance professions. Conducted by an independent research firm, the survey includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, “Which one of the following areas of specialization would you recommend to someone just beginning his or her career in accounting?” Their responses:



Personal financial planning 23%
Tax accounting 21%
E-commerce strategy 17%
Assurance services/auditing 12%
Environmental accounting 4%
Forensic accounting 3%
Other 8%
Don’t know/no answer 12%

“Specialties such as financial planning and tax accounting are experiencing strong growth as more individuals seek advice on investing wisely, reducing debt and minimizing tax burdens,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half. “Similarly, finance professionals are involved to a greater extent than ever before in strategy development in areas such as e-commerce, and putting business intelligence into a financial context through assurance services work.”

Messmer noted, “Next generation accountants can enhance their marketability by completing internships and coursework focused on the hottest accounting areas. Regardless of specialization, however, their success will be founded on core competencies such as strategic thinking, technology expertise and communication skills.”

Comprehensive results from the Next Generation Accountant research project are available online at 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. Robert Half has more than 300 locations throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and offers online job search services at

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