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The Argument for Accounting

Michael Fallon

Having a background in the language of business is a great skill to possess for anything one may dream of doing in business. This article is not trying to sell accounting, but to talk about my experience in class and working in the industry so far, along with research I have done. My grandfather, a WW2 veteran-turned-businessman, informed me about the difficulty of learning accounting when I told him I was majoring in business. Although he sadly passed a year later, I took that message with me when I started my accounting program at Merrimack.

I have had a great experience in the Girard School of Business. Walking into Crowe Hall and seeing the Mucci Capital Markets lab demonstrates a connection between our programs and the real world. The acclaim for the finance program is rightly earned with the investment fund, but another equally strong (yet lesser noted) program is the accounting program. Though often stereotyped, the accounting program at Merrimack has helped me develop as a student and prepare me for an exciting career. However due to barriers of entry, becoming a Certified Public Accountant can be difficult for some. According to Ben Lansford, an accounting professor at Rice University, “It’s just a tough subject area, and you need a fifth year of college education to qualify to sit for the CPA exam. It makes the major less appealing to a lot of people” (Estrada). However, as the stereotypes of the traditional accounting industry still survive, the evolution of the industry has already begun. Big 4 firms are constantly competing by innovating and investing (billions) in their future identities. This evolution will not only make accounting more efficient, but mundane tasks will become automated, and according to Bloomberg Tax, “accountants will be expected to become business advisers not just number checkers” (Kapoor). Once students realize this, they won’t be as reluctant to give accounting a chance.

With change underway in the identity of accounting, demand for accountants remains the same. According to Fortune, “In 2021, there was a 17% drop in employed accountants and auditors from a 2019 peak, according to a Bloomberg Tax analysis. But the number of companies trying to hire accountants hasn’t slowed one bit” (Estrada). Firms continue to invest heavily in their future full-time employees, recruiting students as young as college sophomores and promoting the accounting industry to high school students. Not to mention when the recruited students eventually join the firm for an internship, they are blown away. During my experience as an intern at KPMG, a Big 4 accounting firm, I was able to witness first hand the effort they put into their interns. According to the Wall Street Journal, “KPMG said it is considering ways to reduce overtime hours and workloads during busy seasons. While salaries vary by market and position, most entry-level workers across audit, tax and advisory services at KPMG in 2023 will earn salaries that are 5% to 15% higher than those who graduated and joined in 2022, the firm said” (Ellis). Regardless of the stereotypes, the direction that the industry is headed will lead accountants to find fulfilling and enjoyable work.

Feel free to write to me at fallonmb@merrimack.edu