Leader: Why is 'most trusted' tag reassuring for accountants?

by Kevin Reed

More from this author

18 Dec 2012

  • Comments

WHAT SEEMED a relatively innocuous story on Accountancy Age's site back on 7 December (Accountants beat banks as most trusted source of advice) has proved a social media hit. It has been ‘retweeted' through Twitter, ‘liked' on Facebook and ‘shared' through LinkedIn more than 2,000 times.

But for Accountancy Age, the ‘news' was just further reaffirmation of the status quo. The Federation of Small Businesses has regularly found that advice from accountants and clients' customer base has been the source of support over that of banks.

So why has that story proved not just popular, but one that has been shared so routinely across the accountancy world?

Well, two of the biggest cogs in the capitalist machine, lenders and number-crunchers, have had a pretty rough time of late.

When we say ‘of late' and ‘pretty rough time', there's little doubt that both can be taken as understatements.

A fundamental lack of appreciation of the risks inherent within banking has brought the system to its knees.

While we still suffer those ramifications, the public at large is on the lookout for anyone else that may have played a part in making life harder for all of us.

Accountants have taken stick: as auditors, accused of failing to spot the warning signs – or of even being complicit – in the banking crisis; as insolvency professionals, they are criticised for charging huge fees while non-preferred creditors are lucky to pick up pennies in the pound; and most recently, the public has voiced its concern over what they view as the multinationals' sway over tax rules – accountants must take the blame for this, as well.

None of these issues are clear-cut. The general line of argument about accountants' roles is that they do the bidding of their clients within both the contractual and legal frameworks. In fairness, most of the spleen-venting in their direction comes from (wilfully) ignorant ministers jumping on the back of the latest bandwagon.

That is not to say that the popular view has not made firms change tack. Many, for instance, are not as willing to take on HMRC for fun – having exploited a loophole – as they used to be. Dancing around legislation ‘is not the done thing anymore'.

But when it comes to the crunch, it is, and always has been, easy for accountants to feel the wrath of those that are only presented with the negative. It's a shame that, as some have suggested, accountants are just relieved that they're not below banks on the popularity rung.

For without tax advisors, HM Revenue & Customs would grind to a halt. Businesses would struggle to prepare the right data to gain access to finance. And creditors, no matter how hard done by, would invariably end up with less, without the support of restructuring experts.

Most should be immensely proud of their work, as we recognised during the British Accountancy Awards.

One valid criticism of the firms, and accountants in general, is they often struggle to market their wares or manage their PR. 

Which is why an eight-paragraph story can resonate.

Visitor comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

Add your comment

We won't publish your address

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms & Conditions

Your comment will be moderated before publication

  • Send

Charterhouse Accountants

Finance Officer

Charterhouse Accountants, Beaconsfield, Permanent, Full Time, £ Competitive




Get the latest financial news sent directly to your inbox

  • Best Practice
  • Business
  • Daily Newsletter
  • Essentials


Search for jobs
Click to search our database of all the latest accountancy roles

Create a profile
Click to set up your profile and let the best recruiters find you

Jobs by email
Sign up to receive regular updates with the latest roles suitable for you



Why budgeting fails: One management system is not enough

If budgeting is to have any value at all, it needs a radical overhaul. In today's dynamic marketplace, budgeting can no longer serve as a company's only management system; it must integrate with and support dedicated strategy management systems, process improvement systems, and the like. In this paper, Professor Peter Horvath and Dr Ralf Sauter present what's wrong with the current approach to budgeting and how to fix it.


iXBRL: Taking stock. Looking forward

In this white paper CCH provide checklists to help accountants and finance professionals both in practice and in business examine these issues and make plans. Also includes a case study of a large commercial organisation working through the first year of mandatory iXBRL filing.