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Accounting jokes

As I think I’ve said before … life is just too short and one should have a laugh at one’s self. Here are two jokes I found on the web: one for accountants in professional practice; the other for those who have turned their back on the profession and entered industry! Enjoy.

Joke 1

Three partners in an accounting firm go out to lunch. They are the audit partner, the tax partner and the senior partner. One of them sees a brass lamp lying in the gutter. Curious, they pick it up and give it a rub. Instantly, a genie appears. “You know the deal,” says the genie. “Three wishes. But seeing there are three of you, you can have one wish each.” “Great,” says the audit partner. “Take me to the Whitsunday Islands, give me a blonde and an endless supply of XXXX and leave me there for ever.” Pouf! There is a flash of light, a puff of smoke and he is gone. “Now me,” says the tax partner. “Take me to the Cook Islands, give me two blondes and an endless supply of offshore tax schemes and leave me there for ever.” Pouf! There is a flash of light, a puff of smoke and he is gone. The genie turns to the senior partner. “And what do you want?” “I want those two back in the office straight after lunch.”

Joke 2

An accountant applies for the position of Chief Financial Officer. There are a number of candidates and he is called in for an interview. They ask him a number of questions and one of the panel suddenly says “What is nine multiplied by four?” He thinks quickly and says “Thirty five.” When the interview is over he goes outside, takes out his calculator and finds the correct answer is not thirty five. He thinks “Well, I blew that” and goes home very disappointed. Next day he is rung up and told he has got the job. “Wonderful,” he says, “but what about nine multiplied by four? My answer wasn’t right” “We know, but of all the candidates you came the closest.”

See you next post for some more jokes.

Keep well and bye for now.

James E

A CFO powered by coffee!

As mentioned last post, for the next few weeks I’ll be publishing extracts from “What do Accounting Clients Really Want?” book which is due to be released by Thomson Reuters mid-to-late August.

Here is the response from Kym Warner, CFO of the successful & growing retail franchise, The Coffee Club (http://www.coffeeclub.com.au/) to the question: What is the most important quality or attribute you look for in an accountant?

I think that for me it’s about the relationship. I want to know that I can build a relationship with them and that I can rely on their technical advice.  They also need to have the ability to understand our business.  Ideally, I’d like them to have some commercial acumen, not just years in the profession.  I do appreciate that they’ve either worked in commerce or can understand the demands of working in the commercial environment, more so than just providing advice.

From a client perspective, it’s quite ironic because you have to invest the time to train the accountants to be able to give you advice about your business and then you pay them for the time that they’re learning about your business. Go figure!

I think liking people and just being able to talk with them openly and honestly can’t be under-estimated.  Not just about having confidentiality over business matters, because I think that goes without saying in the profession, but it’s just the ability to listen and to hear what I’m saying.  I cover so many areas of our business that when I’m dealing with one specific thing, I don’t need them to just be focused on that one thing.  I need them to be aware of all the other items that I cover, all the other risk areas of our business.  When they’re providing tax advice, I need them to also be considering the impact of any suggestions they may have on say on our auditor’s perception of a policy we followed.  Even though it’s compliance tax, just to use that as a basic example, it’s crucial to the business.  It’s boring as hell, but it’s absolutely fundamental.

See you next post,

James E

Can you connect dots?

Earlier in the year I met with a CFO of a large retail business. I was interviewing her for the book I’m currently working on and we had a great and wide-ranging conversation over a couple of hours. During our chat we discovered that we had a mutual friend – a partner in a top 10 accounting firm. She had relayed to me that this chap had been particularly helpful to her on and off over many years during her career. To protect the innocent lets call this partner, Ricardo.

Now the CFO had been at her present company for a couple of years and had not connected with Ricardo since starting in her current role. So I asked the CFO may I mention her to Ricardo and she was happy for me to make the “re-introduction.”

The next day I was meeting with one of the senior staff in Ricardo’s firm and told him about my session with the CFO. He, like me, thought it would be a great opportunity and to make sure I followed up with Ricardo.

Later that same day I emailed Ricardo and told him it would be a great idea to re-acquaint himself with the CFO and her new firm. Furthermore, I could give him a heads up on what they were doing and some possible avenues for potential new advisory work.

I know that Ricardo is a busy guy so I thought it might be a day or two before he got back to me. I waited a week, then another and then another. It has been seven weeks since that email and no reply or phone call.

Hmmm … I’m not offended in any way that Ricardo didn’t get back to me. I just think it is stupid and lazy. Here was an opportunity to re-energize a relationship with a CFO of an organisation with a revenue of $200m+ and win some more work.

Who knows maybe he just didn’t know how to connect the dots! :)

See you next time,

James E

Lunch with Michelle Pfeiffer (1 of 2)

The other week  I had lunch with a delightful & engaging CFO based in Canberra. So as to protect the innocent I won’t use her real name, so lets call her Michelle as in Michelle Pfeiffer (one of her favourite actors). Here is Michelle’s response to one question I asked.

Tell me about a time when you received the best service from an accounting firm. What made it the best? How did it make you feel?

Michelle: It was in my last CFO role.  I didn’t like the firm but I liked the tax advisor.

James:  You didn’t like the firm?

Michelle:  I didn’t like the firm, but I liked this particular individual.  What made him stand out to me was that he was extremely good at what he did.  He’d taken on some of the big firms over some particular tax matters and he’d actually won.  So he was very good at what he did.  But what made him so spectacular for us was the level of dedication to our business.  It was as if we were his only client, even though we knew we weren’t.   He communicated in a way that we understood.  As soon as we had a need he was there to meet it.  The level of service was simply outstanding.

James:   So you felt supported as the CFO?

Michelle:  I felt both supported and important.  We paid him a fortune for his services, but it was so worth it.  We definitely got our value add!

James:  It’s not that hard is it?  I mean just to show someone a little bit of care. It’s not always you phoning them up, but them phoning you and saying, ‘Look, it may be a crazy idea, but what about this?’  It may be a dumb idea, but it’s more about the act than the actual outcome, isn’t it, because they obviously have been thinking about you?

Michelle:  That’s right. It’s like he’s in an accounting firm that provides a service, but he always came across as if he was part of our business and showed that he cared. I also saw the same thing for the other clients that he serviced as well.  There’s a big distinction about how you make your client feel if you come in and show time and care which is like saying , ‘I’m part of this business,’ as opposed to, ‘I’m a service provider and I know it all!’

Tune in next week to read part 2 of my lunch with Michelle.

All my best,

James E

A client named Elliot

The other day I was editing one of the chapters in the book I’m working on with Thomson Reuters titled “What do Accounting Clients Really Want?” I can’t tell you the name of the CFO or his organisation I interviewed (due to current release restrictions) but I can share some valuable insights to come out of the meeting. Lets call this chap Elliot.

Elliot, until about a year ago, worked with an iconic muliti-national corporation in a senior finance role; he is now CFO with an Australian-based business with lets say a $100m+ revenue. One could say the organisations Elliot had worked with were almost opposite ends of the business size spectrum.

Elliot is in his forties and has had more than 20+ years finance experience. He has worked with a wide range of professional advisors – accountants, lawyers, technologists, management consultants and the like. You name it, Elliot has worked with them. Elliot is no plebe; he is an assertive senior executive who has a wealth of expertise in the finance and accounting fields. He is certainly no one’s fool and know what he wants.

Set against this background I was both surprised and delighted to hear him express his delight when working with external advisers who “get it.” Elliot gets a kick out of advisers who do the following often and well:

1. Communicate early and often.

If there is a problem tell me (the client) all about it. The sooner I know about it the more options we both have to solve it. Towards the end of a project you & I have much less options to work with and I will be less happy.

2. Share new ideas freely

No idea is stupid. The more ideas the better. I want my advisers to share with me ideas they have learnt from their other clients in industries which may share common elements with ours. They actually do me (and other clients for that matter) a real disservice if they don’t share their thoughts and ideas to innovate and improve our current processes.

3. Work together to achieve a common goal

I want to know that I have the full support from my advisers. Their fee should be a by-product of the relationship they have me (and the business) to work together to make our organisation better for the owners/investors, customers, management, staff  and suppliers.

This is what Elliot expects and when it is delivered he is one happy CFO!

See you next post,

James E