Some fear being asked for their advice. My husband’s father, a doctor, dealt with this problem swiftly. When people at a party sought his opinion about their medical condition, he responded by asking them to take their clothes off so he could examine them. They usually hurried away.
What is the equivalent in our world? Perhaps we could ask loudly for a list of their assets or equally loudly enquire when they were thinking of mounting a hostile bid for their employer’s company. If those responses fail, we could try quoting a charging rate, looking at our watch and writing down the time.
Some accountants fear being thought of as dull. The myth about us being boring is perpetuated in ever repeated stories. There was Jackie Mason’s question: ‘Did you ever hear of a kid playing accountant?’
This was echoed in an advertisement for the Royal Air Force. Also you’ll remember the man in hot air balloon asking a man on the ground where he was and being told he was 100 metres up in a balloon. The balloonist surmised that the man on the ground was an accountant because his information was 100 per cent accurate and totally useless. (I’ve always liked the longer story where the accountant responds: ‘And you must be a managing director’. ‘Yes’, says the man in the balloon. ‘How did you know?’ The accountant replies: ‘Because your head is in the clouds and you have no idea where you are.’)
So when asked about one’s job at a party, what response would go down well? I can’t believe that marketing manager, pathologist, lawyer, mercenary, train spotter, software writer, actuary or anti-capitalist campaigner are more attractive. But I can imagine that doctor, detective, organic farmer, counsellor, civil rights campaigner, fire fighter, lifestyle coach, personal trainer and anything with ‘creative’ in the title would attract a group of admirers.
If the name is the problem, why don’t we change it in the same way that a dustman has become a waste disposal officer, a ticket inspector is now a senior train manager and the unemployed are job seekers?
What shall we call ourselves? Company Doctor has been glitzy title for some time. How about Personal Wealth Counsellor, Financial Protector or Defender, Financial Detective, Business Creator, Organic Business Growth Adviser, Dealmaker, Poverty Fighter, Money Mentor, Company Coach, Tax Strategist or Financial Rights Expert?
They sound exciting as well as being true. So with a little rebranding our problem is solved. It’s time to party.
Ann Baldwin, FCA, is a management trainer and conference speaker
Just one half of UK practices have implemented a pricing structure around auto enrolment implementation and advice - with many suffering increased costs
Deloitte's north-west Europe foray; BDO, Smith & Williamson investment paths; Shelley Stock Hutter; and Wilkins Kennedy discussed by editor Kevin Reed on our Friday Afternoon Live broadcast
Accountants should alter their perspective on auto-enrolment to maximise business opportunities, according to Eric Clapton.
Kevin Reed discusses whether new accountancy group Cogital can rival the Big Four...and its likely direction of travel