Butcher, baker, bookmaker?

It’s a scary time to be an accountant according to the English ICA.

Apparently, competition, deregulation and technology will lead us all to extinction or at least poverty if we’re not added-value business advisers.

A broke accountant – that doesn’t sound right.

But before you dash off to rebrand yourselves, let’s stop and think whether this is the opportunity for a complete change. Let’s be a little more creative. The typical accountant is equipped with a wide range of skills and knowledge that could be turned to many trades and professions.

Many of us are pretty sharp with numbers. So, bookmaker, casino owner, actuary, or niche adviser, guiding people through BT’s discount offers?

Despite the publicity given to the occasional rogue, most accountants have integrity. An accountant has recently set up a second-hand car dealing company and is expanding fast because his business is based on fairness.

Think of any field that is not known for its honesty and there’s your opportunity.

How about President of the United States?

Then there’s our analytical skills. Maybe it’s time to help solve some of the great scientific and social problems; global warming; the British economy; should News at Ten be rescheduled? There’s the millennium bug, consensus about our attitude to the Euro, stabilising Russia, and making Viagra available on the NHS.

If your verbal skills have been honed through years of explaining depreciation figures, you could be a broadcaster. Looking good in a wet T-shirt would be a bonus.

I hope you’re getting the idea. There are thousands of things you could do. And don’t forget your courage. Fighting your corner against client or chairman about some accounting policy or another should have given you the backbone to be a lion tamer, racing driver or football manager.

And for the thousands of accountants out there who fancied the bean-counting career because it paid well – maybe it’s time to move on and find the new pot of gold.

A final tip – don’t consider management training. It’s full of accountants.

Ann Baldwin, FCA, is a management trainer and conference speaker.

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