I recently attended an interview for the position of accounting business partner (I got an offer from the company but didn’t accept as we were not able to agree on remuneration – more on that in another post) where the hiring MD asked me to tell him what I understood by the phrase ‘beyond accounting’ and to freely comment on the idea that accountants should be more of a business partner than just employees in a company.
The identity of the company will not be disclosed in this article on beyond accounting for confidentiality sake but all my answer to that interview question will be shared in this post on beyond accounting for information and knowledge sharing sake.
I would like to start by saying that nothing in this article on beyond accounting is written to undermine the importance of accounting nor to discredit the accounting profession which I proudly belong to. Haven said that, let’s get back to the topic of discussion.
What is beyond accounting?
My response to the above question of what is beyond accounting in that interview was ‘beyond accounting is a phrase used to capture all that users of accounting information wish that they have from their accountant but sadly are not getting them’.
I at this point noticed how the MD of the company adjusted his chair when he said ‘can you please tell me more about those things that we need from our accountants but are not getting them?’ – you need to see the WOW expression on my face as I quickly scan my brain to algorithmically sort all the things that I wish that we accountants give to our clients and employers but are presently not living up that expectation.
I would really be happy if accountants give listening ear to what employers and clients wish they could get from their accountants but are currently not getting them as this would go a long way in ensuring that accounting as a profession still remains relevant in this century and beyond.
7 wish list of clients and employers from their accountants
- Be more streetwise: having a street wise accountant is from the feedback I got the interviewing MD the number one thing on employers engaging the service of accountants. Streetwise accountants bring a lot to the table as far as value-add service from accountants is concerned. A streetwise accountant is the perfect blend of the output of the rigorous process of becoming a chartered accountant and raw business experience picked from being directly involved in some real-world entrepreneurial hustle. I expect every accountant to have a side hustle where they can put on many hats as business owners. Nothing beats managing risks from the perspective of a business owner for example.
- Assume more strategic responsibilities: except for those accountants who rose to the point of assuming the role of CFOs, majority of accountants tend to shy away from getting involved in strategic decision making. This is unfortunately despite the fact that strategic business studies are reasonably embedded into the curricula of professional accounting bodies.
- Do away with too much analysis that could sometimes lead to paralysis: I personally dislike it when accountants waste valuable time and resources analyzing things that are worthless. Don’t get me wrong, I always engage in risk-based data analysis in my job as an internal auditor and accountant.
- Defend the companies more when the tax authorities come knocking: it is always embarrassing seeing accountants chickening out whenever the tax people come around. Stand up and defend the business you work for. No tax auditor ever wishes to come back the following year to the companies that I have worked for as both accountant and internal auditor, this is because they usually get it hot from me 😊
- Write some codes that helps to automate routine tasks: yes, accountants are long overdue to become expert coders. How do you expect a none accountant to write codes for accounting application better than the accountants? Learning to program as an accountant is still one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my personal development journey.
- Be bold enough to challenge business owners when they are getting involved in some unethical things: sometimes business owners just need that extra little push to avoid making costly mistakes. Business leaders secretly wish that their accountant had been a little bit more stubborn but what they get in most cases are loyalists that are willing to dance to any tone played by their employers just to keep their jobs as accountants.
- Do more in fighting fraud: I personally do not think that any other profession is more qualified to spare head the fight against fraud. Accountants fighting fraud is like having trained combatants leading the war front. This is because accountants understand the language of business more than any other. So why they are not leading the way in fraud fighting is beyond me. Yes, we have some accountants who chose to go full time into forensic accounting but how many are they?
The MD of the business that I interviewed with was so impressed with my responses that he instantly offered me employment on the spot – I unfortunately did not accept the offer as it could not cater for the lifestyle that I have managed to internalize over the years. I sincerely hope that I have not drawn the wrath of the powers that be in accounting profession with this article on what is beyond accounting? Anyways, am sure that I will be forgiven if at all I have erred.