Friday, 15 June 2012

Blessed are the Accountants

Dear Readers, how blessed are the accountants - for they can truly count their blessings!

This is a little example of the sort of humour that we of the accounting community like to indulge in of a winter's evening, as we sit around a warm monitor sharing tales of finely-judged asset valuation and other kinds of derring-do. But it also highlights a fact about accountants that few ever consider. For truly accountancy is the most spiritual of professions - beyond the wildest dreams of arc-welders, systems architects or dental hygienists.

I believe a lot of this comes from our innate understanding of balance - what our Taoist friends mean when they speak of "yin" / "yang". For in  the double entry book-keeping world, every yin has its yang and every debit a credit. It is not enough that a quantity of doilies has been created - a balancing number of blanks must have been consumed. A third of the value of a laptop has gone after 12 months - there will be a corresponding impact on the P+L.

This natural balance leads us always to take the long-term view of human life. A man or woman may measure their nett worth in terms of their possessions; of their good name or their reputation as a raconteur. But we remember that all flesh can be expressed in grass. If the valuation of the assets of any business is as a going concern, then when the Final Liquidation takes place, what is that worth? I don't need to draw you a T-ledger, do I?

Dear Readers, I know there are two sides even to this equation. For if the nett value of one's earthly goods are written off in the Great Stocktake, then so also are one's outstanding liabilities. For surely we come into this world with nothing, and we go out with nothing.

But we are told there is another ledger. It would seem that if we debit our worldly wealth now - our money, our standing - we can transfer it to an eternal account. Our earthly wealth is amortised across our remaining life - and merely treated as Shrinkage in the end, when we wonder where our time has gone. But the credits on our heavenly account will last forever. So what will it profit a man to credit the whole world - if the debit is his soul?


  1. I was an accountant and auditor. I was never blessed, only cursed when I pulled up accountants, who were being slipshod, didn't conform to probity rules and treated other people's money as if it were their own.

    But the satisfaction of lines of numbers adding up, multiplying, subtracting and building new numbers is fascinating and laying them out in different ways, providing graphs and diagrams showing money as objective matter is wonderful.

    I'm now going to go out and shoot myself for writing this drivel.

    1. When my daughter took over the accounts of this company and got them ready for an independent audit and discovered they'd been double billing a large client for months, her predecessor said, "well, if I knew someone was going to check, I'd have paid more attention.". There is no response to that...none...except maybe..."oh, I'm sorry your final paycheck is wrong. If I'd have known you'd cared, I'd have paid more attention."

  2. I thought it was the cheese makers that were blessed!! Now the accountants are too??


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