100%

Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue

Share

Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

October 21, 1987 - Image 64

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

DAI V i gANLiN
On the right track: Michigan State grad Finneren in the field auditing at Lionel train factory

A New Bottom Line
Accounting adds up to more than bean counts

Consider the exciting life of an account-
ant-no, really. Many people still
think of accounting as something best
practiced by nerdy bean counters in green
eyeshades. But if the field ever deserved
that boring image, accounting now has a
new bottom line. Today's accountant prop-
erly functions as a financial adviser, not as
a glorified bookkeeper. He-or, increasing-
ly, she-may serve on the front lines of
takeover battles. Their fiscal finesse is
wielded on behalf of daring venture capi-
talists, banks threatened by risky Third
World loans and federal prosecutors polic-
ing Wall Street scandals. Often, too, they
can ride an escalator all the way to the top:
nearly one-third of chief executive officers
of the 850 biggest corporations in the Unit-
ed States have accounting and financial
backgrounds.
These days the nation's 1.3 million
accountants-the number has grown 50
percent in the past decade-can choose
among several evolving branches of the
profession. Industry accountants, the larg-
est group, work for major corporations
such as ITT and Shell Oil, preparing finan-
cial statements or auditing the records of
manufacturing or marketing operations.
Public accountants, who may work for one
of the profession's "Big Eight" firms or-
smaller regional outfits, are considered to
be independent authorities who can cer-
tify the credibility of a client's financial
statements. And government accountants
may work for the Department of Defense,
the Internal Revenue Service, the Securi-

ties and Exchange Commission or the Gen-
eral Accounting Office, which examines
how government agencies spend taxpayer
dollars. Some also work with special in-
vestigative units of state and local
prosecutors, helping to track down organ-
ized-crime influence in businesses or cor-
ruption in politics.
As the variety of accounting jobs grows,
so does the diversity of those who pursue
the subject: The profession is still over-
Space age: Checking shuttle Columbia's in

public accountants, a status
earned by working in the field for at least
one year and passing the CPA test, a three-
day ordeal similar to bar exams.)
Obviously accountants must be comfort-
able in business and math, but a bachelor's
degree in accounting itself is no longer a
prerequisite. For example, Arthur Young,
a Big Eight firm that recruits at about 100
colleges and hires at least 1,000 graduates
each year, has started a program to hire
nonaccounting majors. One reason: profes-
sors and recruiters say well-rounded peo-
ple with good communications skills suc-
ceed in a field that now requires extensive
contact with top executives. "It's one of the
broadest of all disciplines," says Charles H.
Smith, chairman of the accounting de-
partment at Penn State, which along
with Texas A&M and Oregon State has
one of the largest programs in
ventory the country.
The accountant today "not
only records but interprets,"
says Charles Goldsmith, a di-
rector at the Big Eight firm
Deloitte Haskins & Sells. He
or she must completely un-
derstand the business of his
own company or of his client,
whether it's a school district,
bank or Fortune 500 manufac-
turing company. Accountants
must also be prepared to
travel around the country or
the world, depending on where
their clients need them. "Ten
or 15 years ago, [account-
ing] was much more financial-
ly oriented," says George Sher-
man, controller at Exxon
USA, which employs more
than 1,500 accountants nation-
wide. Today, he says, ac-
countants at Exxon need to
know about everything from

30 NEWSWEEKONCAMPUS

OCTOBER 1987

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan