Wayne, Pa. (Oct. 8, 2003) -- The Public Accounting Networking Group, a relatively small but growing Pennsylvania organization, is jumpstarting a grassroots effort to provide needed guidance to accountants in education, business development, and general networking needs.

Launched in January by former Arthur Andersen auditor Marcia Zaruba-O'Connor, PANG – as it is also known – already has 350 members, composed of CPAs in practice and industry. Each month PANG invites them to topical seminars that ultimately address the group’s three main goals: “business development, sales, and career opportunities.”

The latest topic of choice at the monthly gatherings: dealing with the implications of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, from getting started to best practices.

“The original idea for PANG came about two years ago when a lot of people I knew were getting downsized and there was little in the way of a dedicated networking group for accountants,” Zaruba-O’Connor said. “Even today there is still a need for such a group and right now we are on track to do that and try keep everyone informed of the key issues facing this industry.”

Zaruba-O’Connor said much of PANG’s membership grew from word of mouth, and some of the relationships she’s had over the years. For now, attendees and meeting participants come from Southern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware but she has hopes of expanding the group beyond those borders.

“For right now it’s just me doing everything, with some help from sponsors and partners, but I’d love to do a multi-city tour at some point,” Zaruba-O’Connor said. “I think we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Sponsors financially support PANG, while its partners help with marketing efforts. There is also an advisory and leadership committee, composed of accountants, directors, and chief financial officers from a variety of firms and companies.

Zaruba-O’Connor is also seeking support from the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs.

To be a PANG member, you need only serve two years in public accounting.

“We are not selling services or promoting one another, we are in same boat together and want everyone in this industry to know what’s happening and show what their colleagues are doing,” Zaruba-O’Connor said.

PANG is currently working on production of a newsletter to inform current and prospective members of its agenda. For now, anyone interested in learning more can visit www.thepang.org.

-- Seth Fineberg

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