That Number Four Again

It was interesting to note the reaction to the stuff up in this week’s Academy Awards and the media aftermath that has ensued!  As everyone is aware the envelope, contents, passing or something of the last award was wrong and finally the member of the Big Four responsible declared their fundamental role in what occurred.

The press immediately jumped onto the issue and the headlines began to read – “the accountants got it wrong”.

When I joined the profession there were eight such firms and there had been for some time. They all traded as branded Accountants, predominately Chartered, and partnership of one demonstrated skills and experience in professional and technical ability, client liaison, communication and professional standing. The divisions of the firms were representative of the varying roles that an accountant could play within society and business.

Since that time though the reference to accountants has been long gone and they now all profess varying expertise’s in a wide range of areas including health, nutrition, law, economics, human resources and many others with many of the partners coming from an almost endless number of professional (and other) backgrounds.

Today individual success in these firms is largely driven by two factors, internal political savvy and the ability to generate fees.  Simply being the best in a particular field is insufficient. Notwithstanding every time they are confronted by an issue it always falls on the accountants who stuffed it up.

Is it worth pondering what might have been had an actual accounting firm performed the role rather than a services firm?  Who knows?  But it’s well worth the wonder.