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The [professional services] sky is falling!

If you’re into this sort of thing, you have probably noticed that about 95% of accounting related blogs are focused on the impending death of professional services firms, because of course all PS firms have lost the plot and have ceased to be useful to business.

I can’t even link to all of the accounting blogs bemoaning how horrible PS firms have become and how business no longer finds their services useful or wanted. Actually, by default I’m already linking to them in my blogroll, because by default (it seems) all accountants writing blogs hate the industry they’re in.

Maybe I’m just a starry-eyed optimist with my head in the clouds, but I’m not buying it. There’s certainly nothing wrong with my firm – client service and professionalism are cornerstones. I know it because I see it, every day. I know it because I’m doing it, every day.

And who loves an audit anyway? It’s not the management of a company that benefit from audits (necessarily), it’s the shareholders, potential investors, debt-holders, and other public stakeholders who do. I don’t want to give the impression I’m not always thinking of ways to improve my client’s business, because I am, but I’m realistic when I recognize that first and foremost we’re there to make sure the financial statements are all good.

The bottom line is this – we’re hired because of our knowledge, and we try to help our clients every chance we get. Maybe there are some bad apples in the barrel, but we aren’t all bad. And if value-based pricing is so great, the market will decide. If there are some bad communicators out there with CPAs, the market will even things out.

Let’s find something else to blog about.

5 replies on “The [professional services] sky is falling!”

I give a kind-hearted “bah” to that mentality as well.

As for your “and who loves” part, no one likes being told that what they’re doing is wrong, but the more of a professional you are, the more you appreciate some good advice.

Which is why I love IT audit, because the people I work with tend to be – albeit not universally, but generally – very professional about what they do.

If something’s wrong, they may be a bit embarrassed, but at the same time, they’re usually very grateful.

BTW, I just noticed you have a site-wide comments feed. I should load that up instead of loading up per-comments RSS feeds…. ;)

Neil,

Touche! “A hit, a very palbable hit.” (Shakespeare) I agree wholeheartedly in principle.

Ultimately I think there are several reasons why accountancy profession (I’ll say “CPA”) bashing is in vogue:

(1) it’s easy, fun, and few CPAs tend to hit back;
(2) a lot of people were oversold on the CPA credential and public accounting careers (per recent surveys of CPAs);
(3) many paid a lot for an education that often doesn’t have direct value outside a CPA practice (per my casual empiricism); and
(4) the profession continues to get more competitive over time (per my formal empiricism).

So in one sense it’s mainly about Sour Grapes. My reasons are perhaps somewhat different, though I certainly feel The Grapes on occasion. My argument about the U.S. accounting profession (I know next to nothing about accountants elsewhere) rests mainly on the importance of Truth. It comes down to this: The U.S. accounting profession has *repeatedly failed to live up to its own standards*, and has rarely suffered substantively (in economic terms) as a result. I think the profession lies to itself when it talks about upholding professional standards. At least that’s my view from about 16 years in accounting practice.

So from either the Sour-Grapes-of-Untruth or the Sour-Grapes-of-I-Was-Oversold-on-the-CPA-credential perspective, the bashing is perhaps understandable. But you’re right: We need to focus on how to fix any problems, not just keep on bashing away!

Cheers,

Malcolm

On the ethics file we (public accountants) have many blemishes, but you never hear about the times when CAs or CPAs have stood up for what is right with their clients. I agree though that those in the profession who have failed to live up to the standards have made all of us look bad.

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