Fueled by the combination of aging partners who are sliding closer to retirement and the ongoing hunt for qualified staff, the accounting profession stands on the precipice of a major surge in mergers and acquisitions.According to Marc Rosenberg, CPA and president of The Rosenberg Associates, a consultancy in Wilmette, Ill., there has been a 30 percent reduction in accounting graduates from 1996 to 2000. "Although this has reversed somewhat, it has not improved to anywhere near the level that many think," he said. "In fact, statistics from the American Institute of CPAs' annual study of accounting firm graduates from 2001 through 2004 show that accounting graduates nationwide increased 8.9 percent. That's only 3 percent a year."

And all of this comes at a time when demand for CPA firm services has been as strong as it's ever been.

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