Wednesday, February 20, 2008

From Boring Accountant to Dynamic Accounting

The accountant is widely considered to be a human computer without a personality. They often the target of vicious jokes in publications, e-mails and discussions. Accounting students at colleges are for the most part considered a "nerdy class". Many people consider a career in accounting, for the financial rewards, not the career in itself.

The rigorous studying and training could have something to do with this "boring" perception. But also the conservative clubs and societies that accountants are compelled to belong to. A host of laws governing the profession removes the accountant at times, from reality.

After the collusion in fraud at Enron, World Com and other corporate failures, the word "crook", also comes to mind. So the accountant might be sought after for his number crunching and tax skills. But in the minds of most people, businesses and the man on the street, alike, they are not respected.

Accounting degrees vary, but very few of them include proper communication skills in their courses. A common critique of accountants is that they cannot convey the highly technical accounting information to the laymen. The users of accounting information incur high fees to make critical decisions about their businesses and organizations.So they justified, if they demand proper interpretation of financial reports.

A stiff culture permeates many accounting firms, regimented by practice rules, accounting standards and even government ordinances. Accountants complain about "compliance" issues, but are oblivious to the fact that their inputs, at tax workshops, contributed to all these laws, which they claim to detest.

Some salient points need to be addressed beyond the funny nerdy images of accountants.
They are:
· Greed, very high fees for a simple report or short consultation.
· Lack of communication skills (common perception)
· Critical of fellow professionals
· Low quality work (for high fees)

With so many clients at some firms, accountants are pushing through poorly prepared financial reports. This also ties into the greed, raking in as much hours/fees as possible. No wonder, accountants are seen as the scum of the earth.

The Accounting Artist: An artist loves what he does, whether he gets paid or not. The accountant should view every report or assignment as a "work of art", that requires diligent time and attention. Or better still, he should see his assignment, as a creative process, fewer reports would be returned for correction or clarification.

By creating professional files for every client, and preparing "working papers" for every assignment, not- just- audits, the accountant will enjoy his assignments more. Building blocks and safeguards are also put in place, since every relevant detail, from the clients phone number to his banks statement are placed on file. Lead schedules connecting information to accounts are clearly referenced. After all the notes are concluded, a financial statement, cash flow forecast or business plan is produced. Just like a Picasso. Accountants should shy away from auditing/ working paper software. Retain the manual process. Painters don't use software. Other software tools such as spreadsheets, is imperative. But accountants rush through some reports, (using auditing software) after years of repeating the cycle; they get bored, and also become boring in the process.

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