Management Accountants Relish Their Expanded Role

New opportunities for management accountants that not long ago would have seemed unlikely are increasing in number thanks to new technology and business strategies. These developments, highlighted in a study by DePaul University Professor Gary Siegel, reveal dramatic changes taking place in corporate America. “[Management accounting] is nothing like it was 10 years ago,” Siegel said. Among his findings: Corporate accountants now are involved in a wide variety of strategic planning activities, believe their value and image have improved, spend more time communicating with other employees than formerly, serve on cross-functional teams and enjoy their new status. Perhaps not surprisingly, the study also points out that management accountants’ work hours have increased.

Businesses Warming to E-Commerce

Almost half (47%) of CFOs polled in a recent survey said their firms currently offer products or services over the Internet. The survey, conducted by RHI Management Resources, also revealed that more than half (54%) of CFOs would consider doing more business online if costs could be reduced and internal staff had greater technical expertise.

McGladrey Names Top Web Sites

RSM McGladrey announced the winners of its competition for midsize business Web sites. The awards recognize outstanding sites representing the manufacturing, distribution and financial-institution sectors. In picking the winners, McGladrey identified three key trends of which midsize businesses should take note. In the manufacturing sector, National Instruments Corp.’s site ( ) won for its enhanced customer support; in the distribution sector, the Web site of VWR Scientific Products ( www. ) won for its integration of e-commerce systems; and among financial institutions, the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust site ( ) won for building loyal online communities.

Financial Advisers Concerned Over Long-Term-Care Planning

According to a survey the International Association for Financial Planning recently conducted, many Americans wait about 10 years later than they should to begin planning for long-term health care. Of 250 financial advisers who provide guidance in this area, more than half said the best time for individuals to start such planning is when they are in their 50s. However, most people postpone decisions on long-term care until they reach their 60s. The survey indicated that procrastination topped the list of reasons people gave for not being financially prepared. The Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) said that in 1997 about 7 million people over age 65 needed long-term health care. The HIAA expects that number to rise to 9 million by 2005 and to nearly 70 million by 2030.

Former British PM Addresses PICPA

As distinguished lecturer at a September gathering of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs, former British Prime Minister John Major delivered a message with international implications. According to Major, the transformation of populous developing nations into full participants in international trade will give them greater influence in global affairs. Coupled with Europe’s unified economic policies, this will create greater competition for American companies. Major recommended that America adopt a long-term approach to formulating its international policy. He also stressed the Western powers’ inability to police the world alone and the danger of alienating the world’s “middle nations,” whose resentment, he said, may one day assume formidable proportions.

CFOs Forecast Solid Fourth Quarter Financial Hiring

CFOs expect hiring of accounting and finance professionals to rise a net 10% in the fourth quarter of 1999, according to Robert Half International Inc.’s latest survey. While 85% of CFOs surveyed anticipate no change in hiring activity, 12% said their companies plan to add personnel in the next quarter; another 2% expect to cut staff levels. The national poll includes responses from 1,400 CFOs of companies with more than 20 employees.

Consultants’ Pay Reflects Major Changes at Big Five

Booming compensation for top-level consultants, says a new survey by the Ransford Group, New York-based professional services consultants, is but one indication of dramatic change at Big Five firms. The survey reveals that since 1995, partner compensation has increased 48% (for senior managers, 64%), compensation disparities among firms have decreased 50%, it takes an average of two years longer to make partner and signing bonuses have become commonplace.

Expect an Increase in Suits in 2000

A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts a blizzard of Year-2000-related lawsuits at the beginning of next year. Plaintiff’s lawyers are waiting until the damage is done to begin litigation, the report said. It predicted compensation sought for Y2K cases involving systems failures that result in supply chain failures and involve multiple companies would be significantly larger than those for the small number of cases settled this year.

“The plaintiffs’ bar appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach,” said Phillip Upton, a partner at the firm and the author of the report.

Few Use Empowerment Credits

A survey of 2,400 businesses in federal empowerment zones revealed that less than half of the companies eligible to use special tax credits did so. The results of the GAO survey, which were published in a report this fall, showed large companies (46%) were more likely to take advantage of the credits than smaller companies (10%).

Of the three tax incentives available—an employment tax credit, a special increased expensing deduction and a tax-exempt facility bond—the employment tax credit was used most often.

NY Opens Ranks to Non-CPAs

The New York State Society of CPAs opened its membership to non-CPAs. Introduced this fall, five new associate categories will extend membership to non-CPAs employed in CPA firms; accounting students; auditing, tax and accounting professors; recognized members of foreign institutes of accountancy; and CPA candidates. Associates are entitled to all the benefits of society membership except the right to vote and the ability to serve as officers and directors.

New York is the second state society to include non-CPAs as members: California was the first.

Firm Reaps Rewards of Initiative

This year, for the sixth year in a row, Deloitte & Touche LLP landed a spot on Working Woman’s list of 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. It also made Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.

According to the firm, its success is a result of an initiative it began in 1993 to improve retention and build career opportunities for its women employees. This year 18% of the firm’s new partners were women. And of all the partners, women comprise 13%. When the program began in 1993, only 6% of the firm’s partners were women.

The initiative has been so successful that Deloitte has decided to share its expertise in employee retention with its clients. This fall the firm started a new practice group—human capital advisory services—to take advantage of its success.


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Excel walk-through: Sparklines

Want to liven up your spreadsheets with some color and graphical elements? Kelly L. Williams, CPA, Ph.D., shows how to use Excel sparklines, which illustrate data trends and patterns via small charts that fit in a single Excel cell.