Public opinion of careers can be a factor in how much one enjoys their work. After all, who wants to be subjected to bad jokes about your life's work at dinner parties. With the financial situation of the United States and many countries in a state of uncertainty, what does that mean for those working in the finance sector?
The Bubble Burst
In 2008, when the subprime mortgage market imploded and Bear Stearns failed, it led to what some are calling the Second Great Depression. While most people blame the financial industry – bankers and CEOs – they do not blame accountants. Public opinion polls show that most people view accountants in moderately favorable terms. This stands in stark contrast to the 2002 Enron and WorldCom bankruptcies when accountants were blamed. So what is the difference between 2002 and 2008?
"Occupy Wall Street"
Experts have admitted that the Occupy Wall Street rallies represent public anger at the financial industry "http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2012/03/26/wall-street-admits-its-to-blame-for-public-perception-survey/". According to Scott Tangney, financial companies must be "more pro-consumer, pro-client versus pro-company". Thus, many Americans blame the financial industry for present economic problems, but do they blame accountants?
"Who is to blame for present economic problems?"
A Gallup poll rated ethical standards in different fields and showed accountants in the middle range "http://cpatrendlines.com/2012/02/28/gallup-accountants-reputations-unsullied-by-financial-debacles/". Those receiving "Very High or High" scores were primarily in the health field: Nurses 84%, Pharmacists 73% and Medical Doctors 70%. Accountants received a 43% rating, which was above the 25% rating for Bankers, 19% for Lawyers or 7% for Members of Congress. If these ratings are reflections of blame for present economic conditions, then most people blame bankers and members of Congress more than they blame accountants.
An earlier Gallup poll measuring positive\negative impressions for different industries showed that the Computer industry had +62% while Accounting was at +18%, Banking was at -18% and the Federal government was at -44%.
"Why is 2008 different than 2002?"
In 2002, individual companies were shown to have been overvalued due to "accounting fraud." In 2008, the problem is more systemic – the entire housing market was overvalued by credit rating agencies, bankers and politicians.
In 2002, the guilty went to jail and their companies went bankrupt. In 2008, the guilty were given golden parachutes and their companies were merged into other banks. The accounting industry receives favorable ratings in the middle range because most people don't think that accountants caused present economic troubles.