Lion taming for politicians…

Ho hum, yet another cheap jibe. Apparently David Cameron doesn’t want the coalition to be seen as a bunch of accountants. Presumably he is worried that the current focus on cuts makes his team look like heartless beancounters rather than the undoubtedly caring and compassionate politicians that they really are.

We should probably be used to it by now to be honest, although that did not stop the howls of protest from the profession’s representatives, with Michael Izza, CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants accusing the PM of failing to acknowledge the significant contribution that accountants make to UK economy.

We are still living down the classic Monty Python sketch where a meek and mild chartered accountant revealed to his vocational guidance councillor that he really wanted to become a lion tamer. One of the jokes that circulated when John Major became prime minister was that he was the first person to run away from a circus to become an accountant (although he actually joined a bank, an altogether more honourable calling obviously).

Mind you lion taming is probably an apt metaphor to describe what many accountants in their guise of Finance Directors or CFOs are doing in the current economic climate. We all recognise that a key part of our job description is the use of the word “no”, which often requires a certain degree of bravery when faced with demanding CEOs and business owner managers

What is also often forgotten is that there is a significant amount of courage required to say “yes” to anything that involves spending money. Firms do have to continue to invest in their products and services, but it takes a lot of sweating over spreadsheets along with sufficient confidence in cash flow management to release those funds. However it is that ability to see the value of such investment and make cash available to support it that separates a proper FD from the sort of clichéd accountant that the PM is presumably referring to.

Courageous, hardworking, visionary, numerate, energetic…hang on isn’t there an argument that says that ministers perhaps ought to be more like, if maybe not exactly accountants, then definitely a bunch of finance directors?

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