My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a tax partner and the managing partner of Cunningham LLP in Toronto. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not reflect the position of Cunningham LLP. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humor/sarcasm. You've been warned.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Are Accountants Really Boring?

The joke goes like this. "When does a person decide to become an accountant?" Drum roll please. The answer…"When they realize that they do not have the charisma to become an undertaker." Or how about this one? Question: "What does an accountant use for birth control?" Answer: "Their personality."

With a reputation like that, Flo Rida will not be penning any rap songs called Wild One’s featuring accountants. So are we accountants that boring or do we take an unfair rap?

Unfortunately, in general, I think the rap is probably warranted, although perception may be reality. How would us CA’s be viewed if there had been a TV show called LA Accountant, instead of LA Law? Did you know John Grisham got his undergraduate degree in accounting? What if his books had been about accounting firms instead of law firms? Accountants would then be looked upon as cool dudes/dudettes with a conservative bent.

Is it nature, or nurture? I think probably a combination of both. Many accountants by nature are cautious and conservative. Years of training to refine these character traits amplify the situation in non-professional environments. It would probably help if our dress style did not include pens hanging from our dress shirts, pencils behind our ears, or if we occasionally loosened our ties both literally and figuratively. I always had this underlying desire at a cocktail party full of accountants to run about the room and loosen all their ties.

Personally, although I have pride in my profession and my job, I know the boring stereotype precedes me and I try not to advertise the fact that I am a CA upon initially meeting people. You can only have so many people at parties walk away after you tell them you are an accountant before you get a complex.

Classic Bean Counter
Unlike many accountants, I don’t advertise my profession with a vanity licence plate with the initials MG CA. Although I am considering getting one saying “The BBC” [The Blunt Bean Counter]), but I am concerned everyone will just think I am just a British public television expatriate.

When I am outed as an accountant, I always say I am a tax accountant or the managing partner to make my job sound sexier. Although my naturally boring nature often gives me away, many of my other characteristics are non-accountant like and I enjoy surprising people when they find out this blunt, sometimes arrogant, sometimes confrontational and very occasionally humorous person is an accountant. My happiest social outings are not when a good looking girl stares at me, but when someone says, “Wow, I would never have thought you to be an accountant”.


So, are any of my kind not boring? I did a search of famous accountants and came up with this list. For those of you old enough to remember the Bob Newhart Show, Bob Newhart the namesake and star was a former accountant. Now I am not sure Bob helps our cause. He was funny, but in a boring deadpan style, certainly was not stylish and definitely was no Chris Rock. 

To my surprise I found a musician who started life as an accountant. You figure any musician would break the stereotype as they lead crazy drug induced lifestyles. I found out Kenny G, a great saxophone player, is our exception. However, although Kenny is a great musician, I typically hear his music in my  dentist's office and as far as I know, he did not have a Playboy Playmate as a girlfriend like so many rock stars. 

I was about to give up when a beacon of light shone and led me to Paul Beeston. Finally, an accountant with attitude! Beeston, who was a CA with Coopers and Lybrand, became the President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays and later the President and COO of Major League Baseball. Paul  is a cigar chomping, fun loving, non-sock wearing CA. Yes, there is one out there (Unfortunately I could not find a picture I could legally download of Paul).

There you have it, proof that there is an accountant out there who does not fit the stereotype. Anyways, if you ever meet me, I will be easy to spot. I am the outgoing accountant who will be looking down at your shoes instead of staring down at my own shoes. J

The blogs posted on The Blunt Bean Counter provide information of a general nature. These posts should not be considered specific advice; as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.

16 comments:

  1. Mark, as an accountant, I must say that was pretty funny.

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    1. Thx Anon, I enjoyed writing this blog, I am glad someone besides myself thought it humourous.

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  2. An accountant with humour....you are a rare breed. :)

    I'm surprised you know who Flo Rida is, let alone you know one of his songs. Now I have that song in my head today...

    Fun stuff Mark, will definitely include in my Weekend Reading roundup!

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    1. Thx Mark,

      After spending a week on vacation with my two University aged kids in Phoniex who could only handle the 70's station for so long, I could recite the top 40 on Sirus Hits 1 :)

      As an aside, when I was a teenager, believe it or not, I was actually into Earth Wind and Fire, The Commodores, Ohio Players, Brothers Johnson, Gap Band etc, so Flo Rida is not a big jump.

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  3. My son better not read this!

    He is doing BComm with Accounting as major, and I have been trying to get him interested in working towards CA designation! Have suggested that he read your blogs to get a feel of the profession.

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    1. Be*en, have him read this blog. He will see what a great sense of humor accountants have and that we know who Flo Rida is.

      Seriously, tell him a CA is a great designation and allows him many future options, many of them in a non CA firm stream if he finds he is becoming a boring accountant :)

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  4. No, Accountancy is challenging Job. my friend is doing CS after completion of M.B.A... Is that good choice for career growth?

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    1. Since I cannot tell if this is span or not, i will give you the benefit of the doubt. Yes, a CA MBA is a great combined degree.

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  5. I am an accountant with pwc and I love wat I do, I like yo blog thou

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    1. Hi Jnealt:

      Glad to hear you enjoy your work. A CA is a great designation whether you practice publicly or private practice.

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  6. I love accountants with humor. :) It's a shame there isn't too many of them that let their more odd side more known. I have a programmer for a boyfriend, so, there you go. I know what shy looks like. I know how to draw them out with skill. I try to be patient and allow silence so they can think. Many programmers and accountants tend to be shy of chatterboxes, so I usually have to tell myself to shut up every once in awhile (like this, see?).

    I have no idea what to blame on upbringing or introverted sides of people that don't show how they're really like. Then there's the corporate stifling of "being professional". You can tell I get in trouble a lot. :)

    I love puns. Puns are my best friend. Accountants are usually very good with these, or jokes that require a deeper context or understanding with the subject or actually jump different contexts in different spheres.

    Of course, I'm over generalizing and sterotyping.

    Myself, I'm a programmer and a designer. Not bad at basic bookkeeping, either. I'm a pedantic in terms of classifications and contexts and what is used where.

    Loved this article, was full of lols. :) Not sure if I'll ever become an accountant, but I might end up eating my words one day.

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    1. GuitarKat

      Wow. I can tell u now U r far to outgoing to ever be an accountant, you would freak out all the introverts :) Although I would never have pegged u for a programmer either so there goes the stereotype.

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  7. Accountants, in my experience, tend to be more interesting than most because they know better than to talk about themselves. It's non-accountants who risk getting boring when, like me, they get caught up in their financial situation. At that point, someone who can salvage your business or keep you out of jail is awfully interesting.

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  8. Apparently there is a pornstar named Veruca James who was an auditor for Delloitte. While that is an exciting and wild career, it may say something about our chosen careers that someone would rather be literally taking it... well, you can finish that sentence. Really, if you're trying to make accounting look cool by listing all the people who left it to do more interesting things you're not going to succeed. I'd rather take the tact of trying to find successful business people who got their career started in accounting. Unfortunately I don't know any offhand.

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  9. So glad to have finally discovered your blog! Love your mix of wit, humour and financial expertise. I, too, am a Toronto CPA and new blogger who is always thrilled when I'm told that "I don't seem like an accountant" :). I will be back to visit again. Keep the humour coming!

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    1. Thx Patricia, good luck with your blog, i will take a look at ur blog when I have a few minutes.

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