At Accounting Today, Dan Hood writes about “Three things that aren’t your firm’s culture,” and those are 1) “We treat our staff like family,” 2) “We work hard and we play hard,” and 3) “We value work-life balance.” I don’t have hard data to back this up, but I’d venture to say that these three things probably cover 90% of the cultures that accounting firms claim to have.
You see, if there’s one thing accounting firm can do, it’s stick together…so much so that no one can discern one firm from another. “Oh, but our firm is really different,” a bunch of managing partners are thinking right now.
Personally, I’d like to see some accounting firms turn these cliched cultures on their heads. Any firm that takes an honest shot at “We treat our staff like total strangers,” or “We pay lip service to work-life balance” would be worth a second look.
Accountants behaving badly
Last fall, we mentioned Tiffany White, an accountant in Arizona who “made lots of unauthorized transfers from her clients’ accounts.” Despite the criminal charges and negative publicity, Ms. White’s questionable activity has moved on to a couple of dry cleaner businesses:
The owners say they “sold” their businesses to Tiffany White, who agreed to take over leases as part of the purchase contract. Within weeks, they say, White stopped paying rent, took clothes belonging to customers and stripped one of the businesses of equipment.
As a result, both owners say they were forced to pay thousands of dollars in back rent, make repairs and try to recover lost customers as they reopened the stores they believed they had sold.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but there may be a business opportunity here for someone who wants to start a due diligence firm that primarily googles people’s names and looks for any untoward activity. My hunch is you’d end up with way more clients than you think.
Previously, on Going Concern…
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