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2020 Vision: Professional…Are you sure?

ONE OF MY biggest bugbears is the use of the phrase ‘professional’ when describing a member of the accounting, legal or medical professions.

A recent article in Management Today covered my views on the use of the word ‘professional’ pretty well. To summarise and quote: “Fifty years ago, the professional classes were revered by society. But long-held restrictive practices and a reluctance to accept reforms have contributed to a gradual loss of public trust and respect.”

I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly. In the past, certain professions were protected by virtue of their self regulation, their ethical standards, and the unspoken ‘code of conduct’ rigorously applied by all practitioners.

The noun ‘professional’ was synonymous with the adjective. Put simply, professionals were professional. Is this still the case?

Moving forward

What I see is that these terms are conflated by many within the professions, who automatically presume that the way it has always been done is ‘professional’. This couldn’t be further from the truth in my eyes.

Think about your stakeholders:

• Is charging by the hour (and in turn, charging for your own inefficiencies) professional?
• Is performing manual work that technology could perform professional?

There are many more instances where the ‘traditional’ approach isn’t the best for clients, for staff, or for the business.

A solicitor / accountant / doctor can be professional. A taxi driver can also be professional.

But – a taxi driver can also be a liar, a cheat, a thief – as can other ‘professionals’.

Carl Reader is a director of Wiltshire-based firm d&t, which won the 2013 British Accountancy Award for Independent Firm of the Year-Wales and South West England

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