'Tis Always the Season for CPAs

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For finance professionals with a CPA and an auditing or consulting background, it couldn’t be a better time to look for a new post, says Drew Reina, managing director for Accounting Principals, an accounting and finance recruitment and staffing firm.

Whether it’s a role in compliance, corporate finance, risk or internal audit, CPAs with a Big Four pedigree appear to be layoff proof. According to Reina, internal auditors are certainly in great need, and many of his clients are looking for people with three to seven years of experience.

“There’s a lot of growth in that area, and there’s a consistent response from my clients,” he tells eFinancialCareers.

Soft Skills

But they’re not only looking for people with the right accounting, tech and finance skills. “There’s a growing request for people with strong soft skills, such as communication skills,” Reina adds.

But he cautions that those who are unfamiliar with the internal auditor role, in particular, need to understand the travel demands of the position. Only those with wanderlust need apply.

“The difficulty with an internal auditor position is the traveling,” he says. “It could be 50 to 70 percent of the time traveling. I’ve seen people leave the Big Four because they didn’t want to travel anymore.” That’s part of the reason for the consistent demand for the job.

A Big Four Background and a CPA Desirable for Different Roles

The usual path from an internal auditor spot at a Big Four is on to a controller or audit post at a big company. “The Big Four background and the CPA make you an extremely desirable candidate for many different types of roles,” says Reina. And, the background is easily translatable to a corporate finance post.

But don’t look for the strong interest in audit and consulting execs to wane in 2012, says Reina. With the recent uptick in M&A activity, consulting firms and the Big Four are sure to continue hiring CPAs in a variety of roles well into 2012. Reina is also seeing additional interest in CPAs with a Big Four background moving over to staff accountants at hedge funds and private equity firms.

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