Do Accountants matter anymore?

Last week I came across a group in LinkedIn that intrigued me so I joined.

What really got me was the title of a discussion with Ron Baker. – Do Accountants matter anymore? Ron is no light-weight. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant’s Group of One Hundred, a think tank of leaders to address the future of the profession, named on Accounting Today’s 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 Top 100 Most Influential People in the profession, and received the 2003 Award for Instructor Excellence from the California CPA Education Foundation.

Here is an extract from an interview with Ron in the official LinkedIn Accounting group that enjoys close to 500,000 members globally. Ron the founder of the VeraSage Institute, explains why the industry is on the verge of becoming irrelevant.

Question: What is the biggest risk to the accounting profession?

Answer: People are not going to like this, but I see the biggest risk to the accounting profession as irrelevancy. They’re high-priced bookkeepers and unless they move away from the idea that they’re historians with bad memories, who can only report on the past, who can only report on lagging indicators (they’re in trouble). … You go into a lot of these firms and they’re doing very low-level work and then they sit around and complain and moan that it’s a commodity. Well, sure. It’s low-value stuff, and if that’s all your doing, then you’re going to be stuck with government regulation revenue, and I see that as the biggest threat to our profession. I actually question whether CPAs are a profession anymore. We don’t have self-regulation. We don’t have autonomy. We’re ruled by peek-a-boo, we’re ruled by state boards of accountancies in a lot of states that are a majority regulated by non-CPAs. That’s not the definition of a profession. A profession stands for something. I don’t know what the CPA profession stands for anymore.

Visit the group’s link for the full story:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups/LinkedIn-Accounting-4297170?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr

See you next post,

James E

The meaning of professional service

When looking at the meaning of words & terms it is helpful to go back to basics and look at the components. In the case of a professional service we have two words: professional AND service. So lets individually look at the meanings of these two words.

A professional is a person who is expert at his or her work (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/professional).

A somewhat more comprehensive definition … a professional does something as a profession, or receives payment for some activity. The adjective “professional” can indicate that someone has great skill in a craft or activity, or that something demonstrates such skill. To conduct oneself as a professional (exhibiting “professional behavior”) would indicate that the person’s actions remain in accordance with specific rules, written or unwritten, pertaining to the standards of a profession. (http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Professional)

Now lets look at the word service. I saw several definitions of service on the web, but one struck me as capturing the gestalt.

Service is the action of serving, helping, or benefiting; conduct tending to the welfare or advantage of another; friendly or professional assistance (Oxford English Dictionary)

Putting the two above meanings together we get something like …. a professional service involves a person or group of persons who are experts in their field who aim to benefit the people and/or organisations  that seek their help. Now I know this is not an “official” definition but it should serve us well as a starting point. For the sake of reinforcement lets repeat this definition and put it in bold typeface.

A professional service involves a person or group of persons who are experts in their field who aim to benefit the people and/or organisations  that seek their help.

For this blog this will be our reference point when it comes to a professional service like accounting, law, engineering and the like. If you’re not happy with the above definition please drop me a line and we’ll talk!

See you next time.

James E

How professional are you?

Scanning the web the other day I came across an interesting article published back in 2005 by a group called the Appraisal Institute. Although the original intent was to help professional appraisers (i.e. valuers) the following professionalism tenets can serve as guideposts for all of us. (I’ve made some slight adjustments to better suit the purpose of this blog)

Ethics/Integrity: The professional adviser strictly adheres to all applicable standards and ethical rules and acts with honesty and integrity in the performance of all their services.

Competency: The professional adviser develops competency through advanced education, continuing education and experience; relies on education and experience to develop judgment and sound reasoning; and continually strives to improve his or her knowledge and skills.

Image: The professional adviser strives to present a positive image of the profession to clients and to the public.

Services: The professional adviser strives to consistently provide high-quality services, reports and other products to clients and other users of their services.

Reliability: The professional adviser strives to meet commitments to made to their clients.

Accountability: The professional adviser recognizes and accepts responsibility for his or her actions.

Public Trust: The professional adviser recognizes the vital role that appraisers play in the well-being of our society and strives to promote and maintain a high level of public trust and confidence in the profession.

Courtesy: The professional appraiser strives to act with civility and courtesy to all.

Membership in a professional association: The professional adviser joins and actively participates in a professional association and in the processes of self-regulation.

I must say the above list is not a bad starting point. How do you rate on the above checklist?

All my best,

James

What is professional services all about?

When looking at the meaning of words & terms it is helpful to go back to basics and look at the components. In the case of a professional service we have two words: professional AND service. So lets individually look at the meanings of these two words.

A professional is a person who is expert at his or her work (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/professional).

A somewhat more comprehensive defintion … a professional does something as a profession, or receives payment for some activity. The adjective “professional” can indicate that someone has great skill in a craft or activity, or that something demonstrates such skill. To conduct oneself as a professional (exhibiting “professional behavior”) would indicate that the person’s actions remain in accordance with specific rules, written or unwritten, pertaining to the standards of a profession. (http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Professional)

Now lets look at the word service. I saw several definitions of service on the web, but one struck me as capturing the gestalt.

Service is the action of serving, helping, or benefiting; conduct tending to the welfare or advantage of another; friendly or professional assistance (Oxford English Dictionary)

Putting the two above meanings together we get something like …. a professional service involves a person or group of persons who are experts in their field who aim to benefit the people and/or organisations  that seek their help. Now I know this is not an “official” defintion but it should serve us well as a starting point. For the sake of reinforcement lets repeat this definition and put it in bold typeface.

A professional service involves a person or group of persons who are experts in their field who aim to benefit the people and/or organisations  that seek their help.

For this blog this will be our reference point when it comes to a professional service like accounting, law, engineering and the like. If you’re not happy with the above definition please drop me a line and we’ll talk!

See you next time.

James E

Just how professional are you?

Scanning the web the other day I came across an interesting article published back in 2005 by a group called the Appraisal Institute. Although the original intent was to help professional appraisers (i.e. valuers) the following professionalism tenets can serve as guideposts for all of us. (I’ve made some slight adjustments to better suit the purpose of this blog)

Ethics/Integrity: The professional adviser strictly adheres to all applicable standards and ethical rules and acts with honesty and integrity in the performance of all their services.

Competency: The professional adviser develops competency through advanced education, continuing education and experience; relies on education and experience to develop judgment and sound reasoning; and continually strives to improve his or her knowledge and skills.

Image: The professional adviser strives to present a positive image of the profession to clients and to the public.

Services: The professional adviser strives to consistently provide high-quality services, reports and other products to clients and other users of their services.

Reliability: The professional adviser strives to meet commitments to made to their clients.

Accountability: The professional adviser recognizes and accepts responsibility for his or her actions.

Public Trust: The professional adviser recognizes the vital role that appraisers play in the well-being of our society and strives to promote and maintain a high level of public trust and confidence in the profession.

Courtesy: The professional appraiser strives to act with civility and courtesy to all.

Membership in a professional association: The professional adviser joins and actively participates in a professional association and in the processes of self-regulation.

I must say the above list is not a bad starting point. How do you rate on the above checklist?

All my best,

James

A better definition thanks to Sandra

Last week I published a post talking about a better definition for professional services (see a better definition – 21 Jan 2011)

I spoke to a good friend of mine about this particular post and asked her what she thought of it and the topic. She replied it was ok but I should have gone further than simply providing a dictionary definition of the words professional and service and joining them together. Any banana can do that! What I should have done was to extend upon the core idea with some stories from my own experience about what true professional service is.

So … as an indication that I not only hear critical feedback but act on it here goes!

Using the previous post’s definition:

A professional service involves a person or group of persons who are experts in their field who aim to benefit the people and/or organisations  that seek their help.

One of the best examples I have ever come across which captures the true essense of what it means to benefit people who seek the help from a professional is that of Sandra (not her real name).

Sandra and her husband Jerry (again not a real name) ran a successful and growing metal fabrication employing over sixty people. One day, out of the blue, Jerry died of a massive heart attack at the age of 33.

Here was poor Sandra, at 30 years of age with two small children and the responsibility of running and financing a multi-million dollar business with all the associated opportunities, challenges, problems and risks. Although, Sandra had worked part-time in the business and had a good idea of most of its moving parts, it was Jerry who was the no.1 sales guy, strategist and visionary. With Jerry gone an important  part of the business had also died.

Sandra needed help and support. The business had used a local accountant named Phil. After an appropriate time of mourning Phil met with Sandra and said the following:

Sandra. I’m very sorry about Jerry. He was a wonderful guy. I will do everything in my power to help you personally and the business in any way I can. You can call on me for anything – I will support you all the way.

Phil was true to his word and worked closely with Sandra over the ensuing few years to make the business more marketable and exit at the right point in the business cycle.

15 years later Phil remains Sandra’s personal and business accountant. As Sandra said to me the other week. “James … I could never leave Phil – he is my most trusted advisor”

Need I say more?

Bye for now,

James E

A better definition

When looking at the meaning of words & terms it is helpful to go back to basics and look at the components. In the case of a professional service we have two words: professional AND service. So lets individually look at the meanings of these two words.

A professional is a person who is expert at his or her work (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/professional).

A somewhat more comprehensive defintion … a professional does something as a profession, or receives payment for some activity. The adjective “professional” can indicate that someone has great skill in a craft or activity, or that something demonstrates such skill. To conduct oneself as a professional (exhibiting “professional behavior”) would indicate that the person’s actions remain in accordance with specific rules, written or unwritten, pertaining to the standards of a profession. (http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Professional)

Now lets look at the word service. I saw several definitions of service on the web, but one struck me as capturing the gestalt.

Service is the action of serving, helping, or benefiting; conduct tending to the welfare or advantage of another; friendly or professional assistance (Oxford English Dictionary)

Putting the two above meanings together we get something like …. a professional service involves a person or group of persons who are experts in their field who aim to benefit the people and/or organisations  that seek their help. Now I know this is not an “official” defintion but it should serve us well as a starting point. For the sake of reinforcement lets repeat this definition and put it in bold typeface.

A professional service involves a person or group of persons who are experts in their field who aim to benefit the people and/or organisations  that seek their help.

For this blog this will be our reference point when it comes to a professional service like accounting, law, engineering and teh like. If you’re not happy with the above definition please drop me a line and we’ll talk!

See you next time.

James E