Specialised careers

27 September 2011 - 9:05pm
Pomponian

The days of being a generalist seem to have faded partly due to the complexity of auditing and accounting and also due to the financial regulations that are now imposed on many areas of business.
As an example of this I would refer to Forensic Accounting which has been brought about by the complexity of tax avoidance schemes that some companies operate, the need for solicitors to employ this accounting skill in large divorce cases and by the need for the police to have specialist who can help them in large fraud cases.
There are now one or two degrees that focus on this area, as much as there are degrees that focus on accounting in banking.
With this fragmentation within the profession I wonder of people think that the training for these areas is enough.
The advent of SOX following on from Enron etc. meant that people migrated from auditing to earn vast sums of money implementing controls for this. My concern is that the training was brief to say the least and thus have the systems and controls been instituted by fully trained people.
As we diversify as a profession is the training good enough?

Latest comments

  • 21 October 2011 - 2:35pm
    • Egghead

    As I have previously posted on here I am a university professor and thus I am involved in the creation of new degree courses.
    At university level we are, as will be appreciated, restricted by finances as the need to be transparent increases. However we are fully aware that there is a need to recognise the fact that there is a growing need for students to take degrees in areas that are fast developing, due to the specialisation that business and industry now demands. It is not just in my area of finance and law where this occurs and thus there is a need for universities not to spread the butter too thinly.
    We recognise that areas such as forensic accounting and law are in demand and universities must take this on board. There is also the need to look at areas such as corporate governance as this is an absolute priority.
    What is needed is the industries to approach the education bodies so that there is a fair spread of the subjects being covered by universities. We are aware of the need for a better approach to the diverse subjects now in force but also universities need time and money to adjust.


  • 21 October 2011 - 2:09pm
    • Egghead

    As I have previously posted on here I am a university professor and thus I am involved in the creation of new degree courses.
    At university level we are, as will be appreciated, restricted by finances as the need to be transparent increases. However we are fully aware that there is a need to recognise the fact that there is a growing need for students to take degrees in areas that are fast developing, due to the specialisation that business and industry now demands. It is not just in my area of finance and law where this occurs and thus there is a need for universities not to spread the butter too thinly.
    We recognise that areas such as forensic accounting and law are in demand and universities must take this on board. There is also the need to look at areas such as corporate governance as this is an absolute priority.
    What is needed is the industries to approach the education bodies so that there is a fair spread of the subjects being covered by universities. We are aware of the need for a better approach to the diverse subjects now in force but also universities need time and money to adjust.


  • 6 October 2011 - 10:09am
    • David53

    Stella

    I am afraid I agree with the opening post in that specialisation is here to stay and indeed is being forced on us by the advent of regulations. When I first qualified the rules regarding money laundering etc. just did not exist and thus we were a bunch of generalists who tended to specialise by industry sector rather than anything else. Today, whilst industry specialisation still exists, and is a good thing In my opinion, the different approaches to auditing and to accounting and reporting in general demands specialisation. Of course this needs to be controlled as the demise of AA demonstrates only too well. If you form a practice that for instance focuses on management this is fine, but there must be integration and self regulation. This will develop specialists and this is where the training Pomponian is questioning comes into play. If a student stands back and looks at the industry he is considering entering, and this applies to law as well as accounting and its spinoffs, he will see that it will be best to make a choice when his modules come up for selection. However the true risk is that the modules may not cater for his choice and then he may have to take a path that will not be followed with enthusiasm. This raises the question as to whether universities need to rethink the approach, or should specialisation be taught on the job. I personally am unsure which is best, but I can say that I specialised after university and seem to have done OK, well just about, but still can't afford the Roller! Maybe I need to apply my accounting skills the the domestic budget!


  • 5 October 2011 - 4:29pm
    • StellaM

    It is difficult to argue that the specialist careers are taking over particularly when as graduates most people don't really know which area they're going to end up working in. Certain extent I do think that many of the graduates are taking the approach of obtaining employment wherever they can with the role becoming secondary, which I think is a shame.
    So much of the focus seems to be on getting the job of any type that to a certain extent it seems that many people are simply studying units that look good and not necessarily what they are interested in. I must say I'm a bit worried that this will result in a load of individuals coming out of the without the personal desire to stay in the industry or to further their careers when they finally get on the ladder and realise that they would rather be in a different area. Specialisation doesn't necessarily help this although it may be useful for those that have a clear idea of what they want to achieve.
    Sorry that's a bit of a ramble but basically my concern is that individuals will become specialised for the wrong reasons and this can't be helpful either to the individual students or the industry as a whole. Does anyone else share my concern?