Yes, you read the title of this article right. Accountants are problem solvers and not number crunchers. Many young people that would have made good accountants get scared by the mere thought of crunching some numbers.
Most of them end up studying non quantitative courses and end up regretting it by the time they realise that accountants are problem solvers and not number crunchers. This post is inspired by a comment made by my neighbours’ son who is applying to study management and history at the university.
His main reason of choosing to study management and history is according to him the fact that he is not so good with numbers. Am sure you will have useful contribution to make on this matter please do leave your thoughts in the comment box at the end of this post.
What is wrong with being a number cruncher?
I will probably say that nothing is wrong with one being a number cruncher but I quickly take a different stance when I think of the impact of information technology on the number crunching aspect of accounting and what employers are now looking for from accounting graduates.
A number cruncher does not bother to ask the all-important question of ‘how will these calculations help solve a problem? All they care about is to route learn the formula, manipulate the figures and off they go.
It will be nearly impossible for managers to make any meaningful decision from number that have no meaning and interpretations.
A fundamental critical skill of a new generation accountant is the ability to present information in a form that can be used by anyone to solve problems. Gone are the days when you can succeed in accounting simply by knowing the subject matter in and out. You have to go the extra mile nowadays and that includes embracing the fact that accountants are problem solvers and not number crunchers.
5 reasons why accountants are problem solvers and not number crunchers
Advancement in Technology:
There is practically no calculation that human beings can perform better than computers nowadays. Accounting processes are now automated as a result of the availability of business technology tools. You can tweak and run any kind of report on simple tools like excel in minutes (not to talk of full-fledged accounting software) whereas accountants will take almost for ever to do this.
Apart from the speed at which calculations and information are processed by computers, the accuracy and reliability of any piece of calculations like, variance analysis, contribution analysis, sensitivity analysis, ratio analysis just to mention a few is greatly improved when these calculations are done by a computer.
Time and money are saved when computers are used to do the kind of calculations that were traditionally done in a manual way by the accountants of yesterdays.
Complex Nature of Compliance
Number cruncher accountants have no place as far as being compliant is concern. Businesses now work with big data in virtually everything that they do. This phenomenon have created massive privacy risk issue that only a problem solving accountant will quickly spot and advice the client or employer of the pending financial implication of exposing user details for example.
Demands of Employers
Business owners now employ accountants that will not just file for taxes and prepare financial statements. They are looking for business partners that will provide them with comprehensive guidance on any project or investment. To fit this demands of employers, you have to be a problem solving accountant rather than a pure automated number cruncher.
Changing Landscape of Competition:
Speed is one of the most important currency of the now economy especially when working with information. An accountant that tries to recreate the wheels will simply crumble as he or she will quickly be overtaken by the super highway travellers of the information age.
Business completion is now synonymous to speed. Accountants that are oriented towards problem solving will use the tools of this age to solve a problem rather than wasting time crunching numbers.
There Are Too Many Number Crunchers Already
The world is by no means short of number crunchers and your addition to that database will be like drop in an ocean. You will have no competitive advantage simply by being a number cruncher accountant. The financial engineers of this world should do the calculations while accountants leverage on available tools in solving identified business problems.
For you to be seen as a complete modern day accountant, you have to be a perfect blend of problem solver and a number person. Problem solving skill of qualified accountants supersedes their number crunching ability.
After all, the aim of processing accounting information is to allow the users make informed economic decision. Business owners now hire accountants to be their business partners and not yet another number crunching machine. Do yourself a favour by picking up all in this article and these soft skills of accountants.