September 24, 2022

Accounting News Roundup: Educating Trump and Experts vs. Generalists | 01.17.17

Educating Trump

Last month, we mentioned that head EY guy Mark Weinberger will serve on President-elect Trump's economic advisory panel. While in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, Weinberger told CNBC that the panel "will take a key role in 'educating' him on a wide range of industrial and business issues."

I wonder what educating DJT about Big 4 accounting firms will be like? Do you think they'll have to start with basics like flashcards with the logos? Or will they get into the heavy stuff right away like dropping the auditor independence requirement and gutting the PCAOB? And does anyone think Trump might like to know about all the jobs the firms have moved offshore in the past 7-8 years?

In any case, here's a choice quote from MW:

As we all know, the wheels of legislation in Washington move slower than Donald Trump talks and so it's going to take a bit of time to see how these policies shape. I think we're all optimistic but we're watching very closely.

For once I'd like a CEO to be pessimistic. A Howard Beale moment, if you will: "We're not expecting much from this president, actually. It'll probably be a lot of late nights reading things very slowly and repeating ourselves. Personally, I'm not looking forward to it."  

Experts vs. Generalists

These days, the conventional wisdom is that accounting professionals need a specialization. The idea is that by demonstrating an expertise, a person can provide far more value and credibility. "If you needed brain surgery, would you rather have general surgeon or a brain surgeon perform the procedure?" is a common thing the pro-expert will say.

Here's a column from Ed Mendlowitz making the case for "expert generalists," citing his own experience:

I felt I was pretty much better in every area than anyone else except someone that was a dedicated expert in a particular area of interest. 

Wait, is "I'm the non-expert expert" a thing? I feel like a lot people would make this claim which would explain why experts are in such high demand. Here's more:

My value as an expert generalist was a big asset to my clients where I could recognize varied situations and was able to integrate the many facets of services they required with their situation at that time: the client's long-term plans, personality and family dynamics. I also became a trusted sounding board and what I truly valued—the first person the client called when a new opportunity or problem situation arose.

Can't an expert do all this? Don't you trust the expert versus the person who simply knows enough to be dangerous? I can't help but think that if you start out working with a generalist and then you end up needing an expert, you'll wish you had called the expert from the get-go. 

MLK Jr. Day

A recent survey found that 43% of businesses provide Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday. This is up from 37% the last two years. The same survey found that 73% of non-business employers (e.g. hospitals, non-profits, government) gave their people MLK Day off. My hunch is if public accounting is still your domain, however, you were at work.

Previously, on Going Concern…

We were off yesterday, but from last Friday: I wrote about jeans as a piece to the talent problem puzzle. Also, a post from Accountingfly's graduate school partners discussed five programs that might not be on your radar. In Open Items, someone is burned out.

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