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The State of the Finance and Accounting Job Market as 2012 Begins

The State of the Finance and Accounting Job Market as 2012 Begins

The lingering effects of the economic downturn and the uncertainty surrounding the euro zone debt crisis continue to concern finance and accounting firms, many of which are shedding jobs as part of restructuring efforts.


Across the country, layoffs have been announced by some of the major financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and others. The recession continues to have a particularly strong impact on the investment banking divisions of these companies, meaning these employees are being laid off at a significant rate.

FINS Finance reports that while many firms began rebuilding their staffs in the wake of the recession in 2010 and into 2011, this past August provided a stark reality check, with the combination of the Greek debt crisis, Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and overall uncertainty in financial markets around the world.

In addition to the thousands of finance jobs being slashed across the country and around the world, bonuses and total compensation have also declined for these professionals, with many top-level employees receiving pay cuts over the past year, according to FINS.

Many financial institutions also reported weak fourth-quarter numbers, including Citigroup, which saw its net income fall 11 percent over the final three months of 2011. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported a drop in revenue for all of its investment banking units during the same period. As a result, there is not expected to be a major hiring uptick in the coming months.

However, as FINS notes, there is some positive news for some sectors within financial firms that increased hiring last year and are expected to continue this trend through 2012. Specifically, many financial institutions are seeking professionals for positions in accounting, wealth management and emerging markets, according to the news source.

Additionally, while layoffs coming from some of the major financial institutions always make headlines, there are a number of firms that have added new workers under the radar. FINS specifically points to Los Angeles-based investment bank Houlihan Lokey, which plans to add workers to its U.S., Europe and Asia operations this year. TCF Bank is also looking to expand its operations in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area, reported the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

Such positive indications for specific regions can also be seen in the Greater Hartford area, where prospects for accounting jobs are likely to be good throughout 2012, according to the Hartford Business Journal. The news source reports officials from small, medium and large accounting firms within the area have expressed plans to hire within the coming months.

Keith Hubert, managing partner of the PwC Harford office, told the news source that the constant shuffling by companies has spurred the need for more accounting professionals to help manage their finances.

"Because of the changing regulations and things going on in the economy, companies need to do things differently to position themselves for the future," Hubert noted. "That is driving more work and requiring us to hire additional people."

A recent survey conducted by professional services firm Tatum found also that many companies have begun to increase their dependence on part-time hiring to remain flexible while still growing. This could be a positive sign for finance and accounting professionals through 2012.

In these situations, part-time employees are not only able to gain experience, but also have the opportunity to prove their value to the financial institution, which could likely begin hiring for full-time roles down the road as the U.S. economy continues to recover.

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