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CFOs to Accounting Grads: ”Think Small”

In a new survey, nearly half of finance executives say that entry-level accounting professionals should start off at a small or midsized company.
Stephen TaubJune 6, 2005

Rather than sweating out offers from the Big Four or from large corporations, recent graduates who majored in accounting might do better if they “think small.”

In a survey of chief financial officers conducted by staffing company Accountemps, 46 percent of respondents said that entry-level accounting professionals should start off at a small or midsized company. Another 30 percent recommended a small or midsized accounting firm; just 10 percent recommended a large firm.

The survey gathered the responses of 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

“Working at smaller companies — public accounting firms or otherwise — may provide finance and accounting professionals with more opportunities to assume expanded roles and increased responsibilities at an earlier stage in their careers,” said Accountemps chairman Max Messmer, in a statement. “Employees at small business frequently wear many hats because internal resources are often limited.”

Survey respondents also cautioned against overspecialization: 49 percent said newcomers should practice “general accounting.” Frequently cited areas of specialty included internal audit, 17 percent; cost accounting, 13 percent; and tax accounting, 10 percent.