Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Is David Cameron right?

David Cameron famously said he doesn't want the coalition to be seen as "a bunch of accountants".

To my view that's a sad indictment of how much of the wider business community regards accountants.  We're popularly viewed as reactive, regressive, backward-looking stuffed shirts who can't explain things in plain English to save our lives, don't want to know about anything resembling progress in the technological arena, charge astronomical fees that mount up every time the client calls, and are more of a necessary evil than anything else.

That's a stereotype, but how far is it true?

I attended a seminar last week given by Steve Pipe, who's a fantastically dynamic speaker and great advocate for proactivity amongst accountants.  Steve's view is that:

"Accountancy is a noble profession, clients deserve nothing less than extraordinarily great service and accountants deserve great rewards".

I agree with that.  But we can't deliver extraordinarily great service unless we stop looking in the rear-view mirror, give real-time practical advice in the moment by embracing technology, stop spouting accounting-speak and learn to talk to clients in plain English.  Say "trade debtors" to anyone who's neither an accountant nor a bookkeeper and their eyes will, quite rightly, glaze over.  Try saying "customers who owe you money" instead.  Bingo.  Wasn't it Einstein who said that if you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it properly yourself?

Let's wake up and smell the coffee, and show David Cameron he's wrong!