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The New Face of Accounting

A Productivity in Practice Feature

With all the recent talk about the generation-wide gap in the tax and accounting
profession, some might come to the conclusion that a monumental change is on
the horizon. Add to this the numerous studies that show a different work ethic
among many younger Americans (the Gen X and Gen Y types), and it might seem
that this revolution is imminent and could be cataclysmic. I wouldn’t
bet on it.

While the age gap is real, and is the result of stricter education requirements
for credentials that were implemented in the late 1980s and 1990s, the profession
has seen a rebound of popularity among college graduates over the past decade.
Sure, the gap is still there, but this has perhaps proven to be a benefit to
individuals and the profession as a whole, as firms have upped benefits and
other perks to attract the best and the brightest of the experienced professionals
who are out there, as well as those just entering the field. Meanwhile, many
of those in the next generation of tax and accounting professionals have a refreshingly
nostalgic perspective on their relationships with their employers.

One such young professional is David Staub, a 26 year-old associate with the
Boston firm of DiCicco, Gulman & Company, LLP (
The accounting and business consultancy offers a broad array of services for
high net worth individuals and various business entities, but specializes in
audit and tax issues for the real estate industry, particularly large developers
and architectural and engineering companies. David is on one of the larger real
estate-focused audit teams and occasionally also performs reviews of other audit
engagements. With many of his clients’ management offices located around
the country, he also travels quite extensively. In fact, one recent engagement
“forced” him to go to St. Thomas. What a job!

DiCicco, Gulman & Company LLP

Woburn, Massachusetts
: 434

The practice itself is comparatively young, having started in 1995, then merging
with another area firm in 2005, about the same time that David joined as an
intern while completing his graduate degree for an MSA/MBA at nearby Northeastern
University, Boston. Since then, the consultancy has boomed, growing from about
30 total staff just four years ago, to nearly 100 in early 2008.

“The practice has done so well because we’ve really focused on
providing services to this key market [real estate and development] and because
our firm’s senior partners have strategically sought out new partners
with significant experience in accounting and taxation issues for these clients,”
he said. Having a mother with an engineering and residential development background
and his own experience working as a surveyor and with property management while
in college certainly has added to his value to the practice, as well. He’s
currently preparing for the CPA exam.

David also cites the firm’s adaptation of technology as key to being
able to manage large clients with multiple sub-entities. “Efficiency is
what we are always striving for, especially because of the complex business
structures of our clients.” All workstations have multiple monitors (David
has a triple-screen), and full-time IT personnel are on staff. The firm scored
a 434 on the Productivity Survey, a free online assessment tool for professional
tax and accounting firms. It is located at
David participates in IT planning, and the team recently held an IT summit.

Another likely contributing factor to the success of the practice is in its
apparent dedication to the development and job satisfaction of its employees
and its attempts to build a collegial atmosphere. For junior staff like David,
the firm helps them prepare for their exams by bringing in an instructor from
Becker CPA Review three times a week during slower business cycles.

David says that even though it is growing larger, the firm still has a family-like
feel, and everyone knows everyone else. But like any accounting and tax practice,
DGC is extremely busy during the individual and corporate tax seasons, and there’s
not much down time. But he says the company brings in lunch and dinner two or
three times per week.

DGC also sponsors a competitive softball team in nearby Woburn (they made
the playoffs last year), and recently celebrated the Red Sox home opener with
hot dog vendors and TVs in the office. The practice is also involved with the
Jimmy Fund, a cancer research foundation that partners with the Red Sox. Because
of their assistance with the organization, the practice was able to bring the
team’s World Series trophies into the office one day, allowing staff to
take pictures with it. Being a die-hard Sox fan despite being raised in the
“Yankee country” of Danbury, Connecticut, this was a major thrill.
Separately, David is active with the Young Professional’s Network and
is a representative of the company’s “Green-Team.”

As busy as his schedule sounds, David does have a life outside the office.
He recently bought his first home and is busy “doing all the things you
have to do to get a house set up, like buying furniture and painting,”
and he and his girlfriend Rebecca Myers will be married this August. She works
in the Boston offices of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers as a sales

They plan on honeymooning in Aruba and then spending their free time traveling
for a couple of years before settling down. “We still want to enjoy being
kid-free for a little bit, but they are in our future.” David also tries
to spend as much time as he can with his family, including taking his two half
brothers to baseball games.

As for the future, David says he hopes to be promoted to senior associate soon,
and that he will continue working up through the firm. As non-Gen Y as it sounds,
he plans on staying with DiCicco, Gulman & Company for awhile because he
feels like he owes them that respect. “They’ve given me so much
experience and helped me advance professionally and succeed, so I look forward
to my future here no matter how long that may be.

“DGC has given me a desire to achieve goals, not just to work, but to
think about the quality of the work product because it’s a reflection
on me and the practice. The partners want me to succeed just as much as I want
to help them succeed.” That’s a refreshingly nostalgic work ethic,