Let the good times roll

by admin on July 14, 2009

in General

The other day I had an enjoyable conversation with Rick Telberg of CPA Trendlines. Rick has been an occasional commenter and correspondent over the years but this was the first time we’d spoken. It was a real pleasure.

As I have long thought, accountants are the same the world over as Rick confirmed, and many of the bureaucratic issues that beset the UK seem to be afflicting our friends in the US. Only more so. The BIG agenda items are the impending adoption of IFRS and XBRL. Having been on the cusp of one and co-edited the Dummies book on the other these are topics dear to my heart. These topics are causing all sorts of tension in the US though professionals believe they will provide incremental revenue around audit and, where appropriate, implementation. I get that though I’m not convinced they’ll be the big money spinners that some think.

Coincidentally, Karen Watts, president and founder of Corefino has an infomercial blog post on my pal Vinnie’s site. I’ve spoke with Karen in the context of the partnership her company has made with CODA2Go. I like the idea of outsourcing number crunching, along with all the attendant bureaucratic grind but part of her pitch at Vinnie’s place made me wince:

Technology Complexity – Accounting systems are now packaged within or integrated with multiple enterprise application source systems. These primarily on-site deployed systems are expensive to install, even more difficult to learn, and absolutely are impossible to change easily without additional cost and disruption;

I”ve a good idea what Karen is on about but I draw the line at ‘even more difficult to learn.’ Over the years I’ve tested, reviewed, prodded, poked and generally dissected more than 100 accounting systems. To date I’ve never come against one that took more than a couple of hours to at least get the basics including my fave: the ‘How hard can it be to create and post an invoice?’ test. At worst it’s taken me half a day to really fathom what was going on on a complex system designed to handle 400 companies. I’m no superman and maybe it’s because I’ve used farming, batch process, build to order, build to stock, construction, civil engineering, investment banking, restaurant and healthcare systems but they’re not THAT difficult to understand. At least not in my experience. Debits on the left, credits on the right.

Karen also talks about multi-currency issues. I was trained on banking systems running 13 currencies, gold and silver bullion trades that had to be reconciled down to both GBP and USD. Today I work in at least three currencies. I’ve used concurrent US and UK systems. Have I had some sort of weird career that makes me go ‘So what?’ at these things? And trust me when I say I am not the world’s natural number cruncher and to this day Sinking Funds are a mystery.

Perhaps it is because back in the day, I learned how to keep books using pen, paper and T-accounts where as today, the computer has commodotized that skill. All the same, I’m sure both Rick and Karen would agree that the weight and shifting sands nature of compliance legislation is reaching a point where many professionals feel overwhelmed. That’s where – at least in my experience – the real problems occur.

All of which should be good news for the specialist that really understands how industry specific legislation impacts the numbers. Unfortunately, as Francine McKenna keeps pointing out, it ain’t necessarily so.

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