Accountants Go Online for Second Life

By John Stokdyk

The Dutch firm of Berk, an affiliate of Baker Tilly International, claims to be the first European accountant to open a virtual office in the three-dimensional online world of Second Life.

The Second Life phenomenon now boasts more than 4.3 million inhabitants and supports an internal economy funded by Lindendollars, which are increasingly being traded for cash in real life. And where the money flows, accountants are sure to follow.

Berk's managing partner Hans Koning, explained the stunt as a recruitment exercise. "Second Life is an interesting way of communicating with future financial professionals. This project is a good addition to our regular recruitment activities," he said. "We provide something extra by allowing students to get acquainted with our line of business and our organization."

When its online office opens in April, the firm will host a series of events where finance students can ask Berk's employees about careers in accountancy and finance. More information (in Dutch) and screenshots are available on the Berk website.

Americans, of course, are a little ahead of Europe on these things. Last August Arlene Ciroula, the chief operating officer of the Baltimore firm KAWG&F, spent a weekend participating in a Second Life community convention trying to drum up virtual business.

"No one is serving this community with accounting, business consulting, strategic planning or budget forecasting services," she said, adding that she was prepared to accept Lindendollars for her online advice.

In spite of warm words from the CEO of Linden Labs, which runs Second Life, not everyone is prepared to welcome beancounters into the virtual space.

"You have already ruined this world, how about you leave our virtual world alone?" griped CNet reader "sabot96."

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