The ‘secret accountant’ believes passionately it’s time to burst the myth that accountancy is boring.
I was recently asked to give a talk entitled ‘my job’ to a local Rotary club. Imagine the excited faces when they knew that they were going to have a talk on accountancy. Sadly the profession has a reputation (partly cultivated by Monty Python) for being dull and uninteresting. This has found its way down through the generations and many youngsters looking at careers seem to view it this way.
It needs to change – for nearly 30 years I have had a front row seat looking at many businesses and dealing with directors and entrepreneurs in just about every industry that you can think of. They confide in you, they look for guidance from you, and they love to tell you how it all works. The job is the people you deal with, not the numbers.
For the practitioner who wants to do more than just sign off a set of accounts or a tax return there is a fascinating opportunity to become involved and learn about the way that so many industries function and to make a real contribution to the way that a business progresses.
In just the last few days I have been involved in instructing counsel for a client who is looking at a forward land deal where the land is held in trust. We advise on the tax but an understanding of how the deal will go together, the likely outcomes and the potential profit is all part of the job.
I am writing a report which will be used as evidence in the case a client is taking to the European Court of Human Rights to demonstrate the effect certain actions have had on the day to day running and value of the group involved. While it comes back to numbers, the underlying case history and the juicy bits of people’s actions make for great interest - it even involves a private detective.
This morning I was talking to an employee who is buying out his employer, going through the details of ownership and how the transaction will be structured, how to deal with minority shareholdings and all of that without incurring a huge tax charge.
My objective has always been to be the person they call about anything (well, most things) business.
Not only do we see more than most, we have a great network of clients and contacts in all trades and professions. Putting people in touch can be rewarding and make you a trusted adviser rather than just ‘the accountant’.
Next time you get the opportunity to engage a work experience person, don’t sit them with the receptionist or give them a couple of spreadsheets to do for a fortnight: show them what you really do and make sure they understand that after the studying, the really good bit begins. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.