September 23, 2021

If You Can’t Trust a CPA To Say You Can Trust CPAs, Who Can You Trust?

So, not sure if you guys saw this recent Entrepreneur piece by Gene Marks (a former senior manager at KPMG, btw) but if you aren't familiar, lets take a few important bits from it before we do anything to figure out where ole Gene stands. Like this:

Not many people know this about me, but I'm a Certified Public Accountant. I keep up the certification, but that doesn't mean I'm a very good CPA. For me, if the numbers are close, that's good enough, which is not exactly the sign of good CPA. Lucky for the profession, I haven't practiced accounting in years.

Yeah, he said that. There are some things you are never supposed to admit out loud and that is certainly one of them. I'm sure the state board of accountancy protecting the integrity of the profession by allowing this guy to continue to hold a license is thrilled he's admitted he doesn't give a shit if the numbers add up right. Practicing or not, he still holds a license and there's still a minimal expectation that licensed professionals will at least keep such truths to themselves, if NOT FEEL THAT WAY about the profession they are licensed to practice.

He goes on to basically say every small practioner might be a nice guy but is probably just as lazy as Gene is and at the end of the day, all the town CPA gives a shit about is your money; as in getting it, not actually helping you make more of it. According to Gene, this is evidenced by the small town CPA's crappy office "over a Chinese restaurant" because if your CPA were really a "business guy," he'd be meeting you at his plush office on Park Avenue. Clearly, Gene is projecting his own shortcomings as a CPA on every small-town CPA in the country. Gene has already established he's not a good CPA so we're going to let this one fly but if he knew what he was talking about, he'd know that guy with a crappy office that smells like dim sum might have a musty office but I am willing to bet he also has a much fatter bank balance than Mr Marks, who would have blown his billable hours on some stupid, pointless glass prison on Park Avenue if he had his way.

You got all that, Gene? You might just be bitter no one trusts you as a CPA for business advice because you don't bother to get the numbers right and would advise clients to waste their money on big stupid offices. But my favorite part of the whole thing is how he writes this:

Feel free to ask your CPA for business advice, but take it with a grain of salt. Just because he can count money doesn't mean he knows how to make money. Have other advisors for that.

…and then you find out he owns a consulting firm. NOW I get it! Oh, and it's worth pointing out here that if you go to the Marks Group "contact us" page, the listed address leads not to a Park Avenue office but, uh, a mailbox company. Maybe that's why Gene has a case of office envy, even a tiny office above a Chinese restaurant is still bigger than a mailbox.

Anyhoo, Bill Sheridan wrote a retort for the Maryland Association of CPAs that is slightly less offensive (toward Gene, anyway) than what I have written:

The profession doesn't need people like you, Gene Marks, for whom "close enough" apparently are words to live by.

Lucky for us, we have a profession full of leaders who know that the ways in which Gene Marks and his kind have cut corners and skated by for the past few decades simply don't cut it anymore. They know the world is changing, and they're making sure the profession changes even faster. They're ditching the stereotypes and taking the profession in new directions. They're killing the billable hour and pricing based on value. They're using social technologies to compete with the big boys and change the definition of "small firm." They're letting technology handle the data-management side of the job and focusing instead on data interpretation.

SNAP! He told you, son! Wait, there's more:

Here's the problem with Marks' argument: He assumes the profession won't ever change. He's wrong. It's changing before our eyes. Forward-thinking CPAs have redefined "change" as "opportunity," and they've taken the profession in an entirely new direction as a result. It's hard to see that if you're stuck in the past.

Marks is right about one thing, though. If your CPA is Gene Marks, you definitely shouldn't take business advice from him.

Now, we're not arguing that every CPA should also be a business advisor. But we are saying that maybe Gene feels like he has no business telling businesses how to run their business but that doesn't mean his ineptitude is at all some built-in bug intrinsic to being a CPA. Heck, I don't work out of a Park Avenue office and even I know that.

So, Gene, sorry your self-loathing has gotten the best of you but please, don't project your shortcomings on every individual who happens to share your credential. It's small-minded, rude and, frankly, reflects poorly on you, not the countless CPAs out there who can add and do give a shit about their clients.

 

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