I saw something today on LinkedIn. It bothered me.
The author was questioning the definition of an accountant. Her own interpretation of an accountant is somebody that “solves your problems - in a way you may not understand”.
Why did this bland definition bother me? I am sure many accountants would be chuffed with this definition. We sound almost magical!
I thought about this for a while and came up with my answer.
I am not a clean-up person.
I don’t solve your problems. Well, this isn’t entirely true. I probably will solve your problems if you are in a pinch – but I don’t want to. Taxation and accountancy problems, in 99% of cases, stem from a failure to plan, a failure to follow the advice or an inability to obtain information.
If you are my client, we are working together from day one to avoid future catastrophes or “problems” actively. Nobody likes being the clean-up guy. I much prefer being the lead safety / navigator car guy. So please don’t think of me as somebody who solves your old tax problems.
I don’t do behind the scenes.
If I fixed your problems behind the scenes like some magic woman you may be impressed. You may be temporarily happy, and you might even pay me a little more this year. But I am not helping you. I am providing you with a quick fix and then letting you loose on a new financial year with no more knowledge or smarts than before. I am not educating you. I am allowing you to be dependent on me to fix the problems again in the future.
I don’t speak unique accountant language.
Once upon a time an accountant may have sat across the table from you in a suit and tie, calculator in hand and told you which section of the Tax Act 1936 you had breached. You would have sat there bewildered and wondering what sort of secret language this person was talking. Not anymore.
I, along with my progressive peers, prefer to explain your finances to you in straightforward “real speak”. The aim is always using language and concepts that you understand. If overhead, I may not sound impressive with my plain language, but I can promise you that you are getting value from this conversation. If you can understand it – you can take action.
So where IS the magic in accounting then?
When clients and accountants proactively work together.
Discussions are authentic.
Transparency is a priority.
Now, this is when Accountants are magic, and this should form the definition of a great accountant.