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Why accounting is cool

Doing taxes? Crunching numbers? These days, the profession has much more fun.

One day back in December of 2011, a group of about 100 people stormed a block of Broadway in midtown Manhattan and started dancing to the blaring beats of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”

One day back in December of 2011, a group of about 100 people stormed a block of Broadway in midtown Manhattan and started dancing to the blaring beats of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”

It was a flash mob — the kind of thing the streets of Manhattan see all the time. This one, however, was different.

The participants were a bunch of accountants. From Jersey.

Jim Bourke, a partner at WithumSmith Brown, remembers the day well. He took the train into the city with his 100 or so coworkers, and when the firm’s managing partner, Bill Hagaman, started jumping up and down to the sounds of LMFAO, so did everyone else.

“Most people are like, ‘I can’t believe these are a bunch of accountants,'” Bourke recalled with a laugh. “It was really cool.”

Yes, it seems accountants can be “cool.” No matter what the stereotype once was, accounting is slowly stripping off its nerdy, number-crunching reputation and developing a distinct allure. Sure it’s not the high-stakes, high-drama realm of Wall Street, but it’s well-paying, reliable work that is much more than taxes and audits.

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In some cases, that reliability comes with the kind of corporate culture more often associated with Facebook or Google.

At Withum, for example, the flash mob was the firm’s way of celebrating a merger with the Manhattan CPA firm EisnerLubin. Withum, a 40-year-old firm with six offices in New Jersey, also produces viral-worthy videos — high on production value, dance music and camp — that pull in anyone from the firm who wants to take part.

And there are other perks, such as a company foosball table, themed Saturdays during busy season (a recent theme called for staffers to dress in plaid) and impromptu putting contests that use the firm’s carpeted halls as greens.

“We play hard, and we work hard as well,” said Christina Fessler, a 28-year-old CPA at Withum. “It really can be fun. And I think the era of the suit and tie at work every day is over.”

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