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Farewell to 2012… and Accountants?!

by Hallie Frair

Before we jump into the heart of 2013 and the excitement that a new year brings, I believe it is important to look back at 2012 and reflect on the state of the profession.  In digging through the archives of GBQueue, I revisited an article defending accountants against irrelevancy (see Why Accountants are NOT Becoming Irrelevant).  In the article, accountants were painted as always looking in the rearview mirror and not forward thinkers. 

Not to be deterred by the opinions of one individual, I kept my eyes and ears on full alert for other articles regarding the profession.  A piece on Yahoo! caught my attention, as it was titled Careers for People Who Don’t Like People (Jobs for Haters).  I read the article to see which profession housed the loneliest of professionals; you know – those who absolutely hated group projects in college.  While I can’t comment on behalf of computer programmers, writers, budget analysts, medical transcriptionists or actuaries, I was shocked to see accountant was on the list!  Yahoo! proclaims accounting professionals “find themselves diving into a spreadsheet more often than reaching for a cell phone.”  Obviously Yahoo! has never met one of our members, who are constantly using that cell phone for connecting with clients.

I’m confident that these two articles take a very narrow and shallow perspective on our profession, but never did I imagine some could say “accounting – there’s an app for that” until I read about StudyAccounting (iPhone App Teaches Double-Entry Bookkeeping).  Surely 2012 shaped up to be a year to forget the profession, as accountants were reduced to being irrelevant, those who don’t like working with others and simplistic enough that my kid cousin can do my job in between games of Angry Birds.

As I got ready to throw in the towel on my young career, discouraged by the bleak outlook painted for my crushed professional dreams, a glimmer of hope was sent my way by the AICPA.  In a study of different business decision makers (BDMs), the AICPA published the following results (America Counts on CPAs):

  • 52% of BDMs rank CPAs as their most trusted advisor, the highest of all finance professionals;
  • 87% of BDMs respect CPAs as valuable assets to their organizations;
  • Nearly 70% of BDMs rely on CPAs for their exceptional competence;
  • 3 out of 4 BDMs equate CPAs with integrity;
  • More than half of BDMs regard CPAs as objective financial experts; and lastly,
  • 12% – the amount a CPA credential has exceeded an MBA as most valued by BDMs.

Refreshing and rejuvenating?  Yes.  Inspiring and motivating to help me serve my clients as not only their CPA, but as their trusted business advisor?  Absolutely.  Some folks may have gotten the wrong picture about us in 2012 and we have some work to do to reshape their image of accountants, but those in the know recognize their accountants as the valuable assets they are to their respective organizations.  Cheers to a great 2013!

*Thank you to Mike Purcell, Assurance Staff, on his contributions to this post.

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