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AICPA Chair Leslie Murphy Details Staffing Strategies in Tight Job Market at CCH User Conference

CCH EVP Mike Sabbatis Outlines Talent Management, Training, Technology and Teamwork Strategies

(BOCA RATON, FLA., November 1, 2006) – In keynote sessions at the CCH User Conference today, Leslie Murphy, board chair of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and Mike Sabbatis, executive vice president of global sales and marketing for CCH, focused on the strategic business approaches firms need to consider as they look to attract and retain workers in a growing profession facing a labor shortfall. CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business is a leading provider of tax information, software and services (CCHGroup.com). The remarks were made at the 2006 CCH User Conference in Boca Raton.

Developing Staffing Strategies for Today and Tomorrow

The good news is that while the demand for qualified accounting professionals still outstrips the supply, more students are being attracted to the profession, AICPA’s Leslie Murphy, who also is group managing partner for the accounting firm of Plante & Moran, one of FORTUNE magazine's “100 Best Companies to Work For” eight years in a row, told conference attendees. However, she cautioned that a shortage of professionals is likely a chronic condition for the profession for the foreseeable future and firms need to do more to attract and hold on to staff if they are going to prosper over the long term.

“Business complexities mean it takes more time to complete routine accounting tasks, auditing standards continue to add to the work that needs to be done, and there’s a much higher regard for internal control and fraud prevention in every entity, large and small,” said Murphy. “Addressing these issues requires a highly skilled workforce and, while more students are interested in the opportunities in accounting, our profession has to do more to make it inclusive and attractive if we’re going to successfully compete with other career options available.”

Murphy put into perspective for the more than 500 tax and accounting professionals attending the conference just how critical the shortage could be.

“High-skilled service firms and organizations – like those that employ accountants, nurses and lawyers – will face a more severe labor crunch because they are hurt by three dimensions of the labor drought: slower labor force growth, the graying of the labor force and the skill gap. As a result, firms will face severe competition for increasingly scarce and costly talent,” said Murphy.

Recruiting and recognizing female tax and accounting professionals is one area where Murphy believes the profession needs to do more, citing that more than one-half of accounting graduates have been female over the past 20 years, yet, only 19 percent of partners were women in 2005.

Murphy also noted that firms need to be more aware of what motivates younger workers, including enhancing their ability to balance career and personal life, developing attractive firm’s cultures, enhancing flexibility and satisfying staff’s desire to have an impact in what they do.

“By 2020, three out of four AICPA members will be nearing retirement age. About 60 percent of firms have owners in the pre-retirement ages of 55-62, yet only 21 percent of all firms have a succession plan,” said Murphy. “So, you have a significant number of professionals retiring, and fewer entering to fill their shoes. It’s clear firms need to start thinking about their future today – how they’re going to meet their staffing challenges, how they’re going to motivate and recognize their employees and how they’re going to groom leadership in their organization – if they want to be around 10 or 20 years from now.”

Murphy also noted that firms need to embrace technology to eliminate repetitive work, enable flexibility and ensure greater productivity. Firms also have to be willing to take an active role in the training and development of staff – delivering more training when and where it’s needed and tailored to individual needs.

“Ultimately, firms need to examine their business models and make sure they’re keeping pace with the market demands and drivers they’re faced with today, and they have to develop their staffing strategies to meet the needs of the workforce – which now spans four generations,” said Murphy. “The accounting profession is a vibrant, growing profession, but to sustain its health we have to examine how our firms are run and how they need to operate to meet both the challenges and the opportunities on the horizon.”

Talent, Training, Technology and Teamwork Sum Up CCH User Conference

In closing remarks for the 2006 CCH User Conference, CCH’s Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing Mike Sabbatis highlighted findings form the CCH Young Accounting Professionals Survey and outlined four key themes designed to help firms grow their business today and prepare for the future that were present throughout the three-day conference: talent, training, technology and teamwork.

“Talent management is something that every firm now needs to actively pursue,” said Sabbatis. “Significant investment goes into recruiting. But to maximize investments, firms need to understand the workforce better. They must look at career paths and implement development programs that keep good employees eager to work for their firm.”

Sabbatis added that training goes lock-step with any talent management program.

“Staff want to work for the best and the brightest organizations, be challenged and increase their sense of accomplishment,” Sabbatis told attendees, adding that CCH online, multi-media and in-person training courses were taken by more than 59,000 participants, earning more than 237,500 CPE hours last year.

A strategic technology infrastructure also is essential in a firm’s overall productivity and in providing the tools CPAs expect to get their jobs done.

“Look at how technology can help fill gaps in your workflow, look for tools that are flexible and portable, and that can be integrated around everyday applications and platforms,” advised Sabbatis.

Finally, Sabbatis emphasized the need for teamwork.

“The tax and accounting profession is getting far more complex, solutions are expected faster and firms are struggling to keep staffed at optimal levels,” Sabbatis told attendees. “You need a strategic partner that can be part of your team and make sure you can deliver on client expectations. CCH’s focus and commitment is to be that strategic partner.”

About CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business (CCHGroup.com) is a leading provider of tax and accounting law information, software and services. It has served tax, accounting and business professionals and their clients since 1913. Among its market-leading products are The ProSystem fx® Office, CCH® Tax Research NetWork™, Accounting Research Manager® and the U.S. Master Tax Guide®. CCH is based in Riverwoods, Ill.

Wolters Kluwer is a leading global information services and publishing company. The company provides products and services for professionals in the health, tax, accounting, corporate, financial services, legal and regulatory, and education sectors. Wolters Kluwer has annual revenues (2005) of €3.4 billion, employs approximately 18,400 people worldwide and maintains operations across Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on the Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. For more information, visit www.wolterskluwer.com.

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