Accounting News Roundup: Accounting and STEM; Vocational Irony | 06.06.17

accounting and stem

Accounting and STEM

A lot of people who end up in accounting explain their career choice with a variation on “I liked numbers, but sucked at math.” Or maybe that’s just me? Anyway, accounting has always had a reputation of precision that’s kinda sorta in the spirit of math, but I think the vast majority of math people would go, “Huh? No, accounting is not math.” However, Michael Rapoport reports in the Wall Street Journal that this is not stopping the accounting profession from trying to elbow its way into the club:

Major accounting firms and the industry’s trade group are trying to convince Congress to include accounting as part of the “STEM” career fields—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Those areas get special consideration when the U.S. government determines which foreigners get visas to work in the U.S.

Specifically, the industry wants to expand the STEM definition of “mathematics” to include accounting. The efforts by firms and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants are cited in recent lobbying disclosure reports filed with Congress.

Howard University Professer Ronil Hira told the Journal: “I think it is a stretch to include accounting as one of the STEM disciplines,”  and I’m glad I’m not the only cynical one here. Even the writing in the article can’t hide the skepticism:

While accounting remains centered on how and when companies should record their income and expenses, their assets and liabilities, in recent years the industry has focused increasingly on advanced technology and “big data,” bringing it a bit closer to STEM. Accounting-firm executives note that STEM already includes fields that are close to accounting like statistics and applied mathematics.

Oh, brother. This might inspire me to submit a script for Veep that includes a scene with Roger Furlong (very NSFW without headphones) explaining to an AICPA lobbyist the difference between math and accounting.

Vocational irony

“The shoemaker’s children go barefoot,” the old saying goes, and that applies quite nicely to the story from Sky News about some troubles that KPMG is having in the UK with the HM Revenue & Customs regarding “bills running to thousands of pounds”:

KPMG wrote last week to approximately 500 existing and retired UK partners with estimates of their individual “worst-case” liabilities.

In the most extreme cases, these are believed to amount to tens of thousands of pounds – and could be even bigger once penalties and interest are factored in.

Insiders at the firm said the letter had urged KPMG partners to brace themselves for the most adverse outcome from the firm’s dispute with the taxman.

Recently I wrote how “big firm partners don’t really have to worry about running the business like most business owners do” and this is a perfect example. I think most serious tax partners would be aghast to learn that their firm was out of compliance with its tax obligations. Of course, they have client obligations to attend to and can’t really focus on getting the House of Klynveld’s tax matters in order. And even if tax partners did have the time to tend to it, the hairsplitting among them would make the whole exercise useless.

Still, you’d think that an accounting firm could find one guy or gal that would take one for the team to make sure everything is tip-top.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Marsha Leest wrote about how scaring yourself is good for your career.

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