Today, accounting job candidates are more likely to ask about programs promoting a healthy balance between work and outside life than they were five years ago, according to 57% of the CFOs responding to a survey of 1,400 executives by headhunter Robert Half Finance & Accounting. That could explain why some accounting professionals have been moving from public accounting firms with busy travel schedules crammed with billable hours to corporations with more predictable work schedules and often more flexibility on hours and remote work arrangements, says Brett Good, the district president for Southern California at Robert Half.

Of course, with the extra pressures from Sarbanes-Oxley, a flurry of new U.S. accounting regulations and increasing exposure to overseas accounting rules, corporations have also needed more in-house accounting expertise. To help lure accounting talent, 68% of the CFOs polled said they are offering alternative scheduling arrangements as part of employment packages. The most common options are: flexible hours (51%), part-time positions (27%) and job-sharing (20%). But the accounting firms are fighting back, implementing "additional programs to help their teams achieve work/life balance in an effort to attract and retain top performers," says Good.

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