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December 1, 2022

At Least We Aren’t in Tech, Boast Smug Accountants Who Didn’t Get Laid Off Today

a very smug guy

Accountants, your moment has finally come.

From the moment you chose accounting as a major you have been relentlessly teased and taunted. “Why not law?” screeched your mother. “Haha BORING,” said your little brother. “So does this mean you can do my taxes?” teased your uncle who continues to ask you to do his taxes even though you’re now an audit manager. You watched as your classmates who went into tech bragged about the buckets of money they were making fresh out of school while you contemplated if the $3.99 Instacart delivery fee was truly prudent given your financial condition. Friends, no more. No, today you are justified in your choices at last.

ABC7 in San Francisco is tracking Bay Area tech layoffs and you’ll see some familiar names: Meta (13% of the workforce just got cut), Lyft, Twitter. Most of them have said the layoffs are driven by cost-cutting measures, in Meta’s case the company’s operating income dropped 46% from the previous year while costs and expenses rose 19% to $22.1 billion. It doesn’t take an accountant to figure out some adjustments needed to be made.

Is accounting truly recession-proof? Well, we watched accounting firms cut pay and staff at the beginning of the pandemic only to report record-breaking revenue by that fall so no, the profession is as susceptible to economic hiccups as anyone. There will no doubt be cuts should the economy get worse but staff levels are so low right now there isn’t much to cut. Non-client facing staff will be the canary in the coal mine here, if we start seeing admin and recruiters go en masse then low performers on the professional side are probably next. We’d also expect to see firms pull back on recruiting which has yet to happen, if anything firms are more aggressively hiring now than they were a few years ago. PwC has a few years left on The New Equation and as far as we know they haven’t filled those 100,000 new jobs they’ve planned. Across the pond, EY brought a record 1,473 students into its UK business this year — up 35% compared to 2021 — and made sure to put out press releases about it. The smaller firms are going merge-crazy and some are entertaining private equity as a way to compete in the talent war. For now at least, this train isn’t slowing.

So gloat away. You’ve earned it. It’s not like you get to do it very often.

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