Accountancy as a Step Forward

First it was Erez Vigodman, who left the Somekh Chaikin accountancy office to head the Elite confectionery giant. Vigodman is now president of the Strauss-Elite food conglomerate, with more exposure and power than he had at his accountant's fingertips.

A month ago, another CPA took a similar step, and moved into the wide world of big business. Accountant Yali Sheffi, senior partner at Brightman Almagor, is about to take over as CEO of the Israel Phoenix Assurance Company. From the beginning of March, Sheffi will be heading not only a major insurance company, but a pioneering player in the sector, branching out to finance big business deals.

And another example: CPA Shlomo Zohar, who until now headed his own accountancy office, Zohar and Zohar, is tapped to head the third largest bank in the country. Matthew Bronfman, the successful bidder for the state's controlling stake in Israel Discount Bank, is likely to appoint Zohar as the bank's next chairman, replacing Arie Mientkavich. Zohar acted as an adviser to Bronfman during the bid for the Discount control.

Vigodman, Sheffi and Zohar all accepted tempting offers and undeniably interesting challenges. One can understand their taking up the gauntlet. But what more can one learn about the accountancy profession in general? Does it attract more people than it drives out?

Accountants wield great influence on the way companies present their financial reports. Their responsibility is heavy, and they often find themselves at loggerheads with corporate officers pushing for a different presentation of the figures, or

even hiding certain information (bumper compensation packages for outgoing executives, for example).

What can the CPA do? Give in or stand firm? Sometimes, the CPAs take the plunge, and set off on a new career.