FAS140 spells good news for technical accountants

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The impending transfer of securitisations held off-balance sheet back onto the books could generate windfalls for technical accountants.

FAS140 (Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No.140) revises reporting procedures for securitisations and calls for greater disclosure, requiring re-classification of assets worth billions.

Steve Leeson of Morgan McKinley says, "Technical accounting skill sets have been in demand by banks reporting in the US for the last few years. But while we're less likely to see a spike in demand by banks themselves - as many already have technical expertise - we may see greater calls amongst regulators for people with specific knowledge to act as relationship managers for re-classifications. That could then impact on available talent and push up salaries."

Leeson says those with the strongest technical knowledge - who can translate highly complex, lengthy accounting documents into plain English - will negotiate the best packages, although over time, those differentials will drop.

But accounting firms advising investment banks aren't expecting a big upturn. "Increased demand isn't specifically down to FAS140 - workload tends to be more driven by the market than by standards changes," says Caroline Britton, partner at Deloitte. Her team is still recruiting, though: "Current conditions have had a major impact on securitisation and other special purpose vehicles; more technically strong accountants with experience of US standards and IFRS are needed for de-recognition and valuation work."

Laura Kirk of WH Marks Sattin says that in advance of a Sarbox or Basel II-style bidding war, upskilling would be wise: "Demand may mushroom - or turn out to be a red herring. If you're offered the opportunity to get experience in that area, I'd certainly take advantage."

Leeson says technical ACAs with two years' pqe in financial services can expect 67k-70k, with bonuses of 20-25%.

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