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How can accountants change the world?

Richard Joseph of the London Accountant Editorial board discusses how accountants can change the world.

November 2021

Change the world? That’s a pretty big ask isn’t it?

OK, firstly let’s have a think about we’re actually talking about. For a start, what do we mean by the world? I would have doubted very much that anything we might do could change the world where there is currently no involvement or even recognition of the existence of Chartered Accountants, as would be the case in many remote areas.

Or is there? Keep reading.

We are used to accountants doing things that might have influenced the developed world, but always as a by-product of whatever it is we’ve done or reacted to, rather than as its intent. In this area, usually the best we can do is to moderate the more ludicrous flights of fancy that our politicians attempt to inflict on us.

In this capacity, we are not changing the world, we are protecting it.

So, what I’m talking about is something we might do specifically for this purpose, proactive rather than reactive. Some sort of initiative or idea that was created with the purpose of changing the world (CTW from now on).

I asked for “Thinking outside the box” suggestions when preparing this article, and I really got some!

The most interesting was from Angus Farr, who is looking at a completely different side of what we accountants are usually into. He considered that as a profession we could be more mindful of the social side of accountancy. He is talking about prison visiting here.

He wrote: “My experience of offenders is that many are quite enterprising (arguably that’s why they are there in the first place!) and a little bit of training on business planning, pricing and cashflow could help them sustain a small business and stay the right side of the prison wall. Good for them, good for us”.

This got me thinking. Apart from prisoners, there may be elements of disadvantaged society that could definitely gain something from being instructed in the basics of running a business or helping to administrate one. Chartered Accountants might be the ideal people to do this. Apart from our more obvious qualities involving tax, finance, etc. we also have a large quantity of something currently in very short supply. Common Sense. A very valuable (and rare) resource to add to our list of expertise.

So maybe we accountants could actually do more than just help produce accounts for clients and manage their taxes. Perhaps an initiative could be started to get CA’s to engage somehow with the elements of society that have considerable potential to work independently and profitably, but for whom the whole idea would not cross their mind as being open to them at all. Maybe people struggling financially, or just feeling aimless in life because of their immediate circumstances, could perhaps have their potential unlocked. Nobody seems to have ever considered working in that remote area of society. (Remember I said keep reading?)

This might be a significant improvement for them over just getting a minimum wage job, probably very boring. Or just signing on.

The sort of people I’m talking about might only be a small percentage, but for those whose life could be substantially enhanced by having a CA back them, it would, as Angus suggests, be “Good for them, good for us

And that really could Change the World.


London Accountant

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