Accountants feeling pressured, study saysTax and audit...


April 16, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Accountants feeling pressured, study says

Tax and audit season is the accountants' equivalent of the Ironman Triathalon, and they've just made it past the finish line. -- But a growing number of accountants say they are expected to keep running.

Financial difficulties within the industry have intensified the pressure-cooker period that runs from December through April 15, says Deborah Payne, assistant professor of accounting at the University of Baltimore and author of a study of stress in the accounting profession.

In research published in The Practicing CPA, the publication of the American Institute of CPAs, Ms. Payne surveyed 800 accountants. Many reported working up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week on tax returns and financial reports during the peak season.

"Everything is hitting at once. All these audits have to be completed. The weather is bad. And everybody is short-handed," she said.

Worse, the pressure isn't letting up.

To her surprise, a small but significant number (she wouldn't say how many) respondents said that their bosses aren't letting them take time off during the spring or summer to make up for the long winter hours.

"CPA firms have been cutting staff . . . and everybody's getting squeezed to do more work with fewer people," she said.

This isn't just bad news for CPAs. Their clients also could suffer because of the overwork, she warned.

The CPAs reported that continued stress, without the opportunity for some respite, sometimes results in mistakes.

"Once you get tired, if you don't have some kind of relief or recuperation, things start to happen that normally wouldn't -- mistakes," she said.

BG&E, college unite on job training plan

About 200 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. power plant workers can start getting college credit for their job training, thanks to a new agreement between the utility and Anne Arundel Community College.

Roger Fell, senior mechanical instructor for the company, has arranged for the technicians who fix equipment at BG&E's coal-fired power plants to get as much as 12 semester hours of credit for the six-week training program the company offers entry-level workers.

It's great for the workers because they can get a head start on a college degree. And the company can use some of the college courses to replace its training program.

This is the first two-way agreement of its type between a college and a local company, said John Sabatini, associate director of planning and academic affairs at the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

Image of secretary being transformed

Secretaries and their jobs are changing.

Snelling Personnel Services, a temporary and permanent employment agency, reports that local and national demand for office assistants is increasing.

But the stereotype of coffee-making skirt-wearers is all wrong.

Today's secretary doesn't usually have to take dictation. But secretaries are expected to type well and know several computer programs, Snelling says.

And the kind of person who gets a secretarial job is different.

It was almost unthinkable for men to take a secretarial job just a generation ago. But men take about a third of all the agency's secretarial jobs in Baltimore, reports Linda Kaestner, owner of the local franchise.

In addition, about a third of the secretaries hired through the agency are being "tried out" for permanent jobs, she said.

Average starting salaries for local secretaries -- about $8.50 an hour, or $17,680 a year -- are about $3,000 higher than the national average, she said. After three years, secretaries can expect to earn about $22,400, she said.

Health insurance costs still outpace inflation

Health insurance costs continued to rocket past inflation through 1992, according to the latest survey by Milliman and Robertson, the Radnor, Pa.-based industry analyst.

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