Accounting firms are starting to go virtual and setting up shop on Second Life.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how futurist Edie Weiner recently predicted that accountants might need to start keeping track of money in Second Life's virtual currency, Linden dollars (see Accounting in Linden Dollars). I received a note in response to that column from Tom Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs, pointing out that the association has already created a CPA Island in Second Life along with a Second Life Association of CPAs.

The first accounting firm to go live on the virtual world was Baltimore-based KAWG&F. CPA Island includes a "chillin' grounds" for new and young professionals to network. There is also a Firm of the Future office that shows off leading-edge concepts for CPA firms, as well as an exhibition hall aimed at educators. MACPA is in the process of expanding its presence on Second Life even further and is at work on CPA Island 2.

Firms need to reach out through venues like Second Life to attract young clients and recruit young accountants who are spending more and more of their time online, both at the office and during their leisure hours. Virtual worlds like Second Life have been attracting all manner of businesses, ranging from computer companies like Dell and Sun Microsystems to retailers like American Apparel to virtual real estate developers who specialize in creating homes on SL. Why not CPA firms too?

The environment for Second Life does take some getting used to, and whenever I've tried to use it, I've had some trouble finding my way around there. It's not the ideal environment for meeting a lot of different types of clients. But just as many firms have established a presence on the Internet by opening a Web site, they may start finding demand on sites like Second Life. Joining an island of other CPAs might not be a bad way to get used to the environment without getting marooned in cyberspace.

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