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Email: brad.kirschner@hkpseattle.com

Reflections...

The original title of this section was Rants and Raves, but perhaps the new title is more descriptive.  The web site is designed to provide information to clients, prospective clients and friends and to describe the qualifications of and the services provided by the firm.  I hope it will also provide the flavor and uniqueness of the firm--that is the purpose of this section.  I invite your feedback to brad@bwkcpa.com

I write this reflection five days after Connor, my first grandchild was born.  It seems like a good time to reflect on the future as it pertains by my profession.

The accounting profession’s reputation in both the United States and Canada has fallen on hard times of late—much of it deserved.  The hallmark of being a Certified Public Accountant, or a Chartered Accountant, is our objectivity and independence. A Canadian colleague put it best, “truth spoken without bias.”  Somewhere we have been subverted by our quest for more money, and by the leaders of our national organizations, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, in their quest to protect and expand their influence.  We have lost sight of our objectivity and independence.

There is a difficult line, sometimes, between our role of advisor and advocate for our clients, and being the independent and objective accountant offering an opinion on a company’s financial statements.  It is a challenge to tell the truth without bias, when telling it might result in the loss of a client.  We must rise to that challenge.

Accounting used to be a principles based profession.   Principles, however, are difficult for one who was never raised to have principles, or who cannot resist the pressure to perform when it means compromising one’s principles.  In response, we moved to being a standards based profession, where there are rules for everything.  The problem with rules is that there are so many of them that it is virtually impossible for one to know all of them, and rules invite one to find the loophole in the rules to squeeze through.  That has been the problem with so many of the corporate accounting scandals of the past few years.

We are finally moving back to a principles based profession, which I think is good.  It means that I will have to be vigilant in looking at all my activities through the lens of maintaining my objectivity and independence, while still doing what is best for you, my clients.  It means I have to say “no” more often to some who pass through my doors seeking my services.  It means I will have to involve my clients more directly in accounting decisions that I formerly made for my clients.  In the long run, it will involve working more closely with my clients and that, as Martha would say, is a good thing.

-Brad