Apr 12, 2012

“Bean Counter” Is So Last Century

By Peter Calcara, Vice President - Government Relations
Bean Counter imageI recently read a quote from Frank Pinto, a candidate for Pennsylvania auditor general, who was discussing his opponent state Rep. John Maher’s qualifications for the office they are both seeking. Pinto, attempting to score some political points against his primary opponent, who happens to be a CPA, was quoted in the Harrisburg Patriot News saying that there are a number of CPAs working for the office of auditor general, so the auditor general himself does not need to be another “bean counter.” This uninformed and antiquated reference to the CPA profession demonstrates a complete and utter lack of understanding of what the profession has become and what it means in today’s business world. The term “bean counter” is so last century!

It’s hard to fathom that someone seeking this particular public office would show such a lack of understanding of how broadly the CPA profession has grown over the past two decades. Certainly, few professions are as proud of their heritage as CPAs are. And part of that heritage is that as the world moves forward, CPAs adjust and grow. That is why CPAs have become synonymous with professional excellence.

CPAs are a cornerstone in the global economy, providing many valuable services—business valuation, personal financial planning, fraud and forensics services, and information technology—just to name a few. Accounting is the language of business, and no one understands this better than CPAs. CPAs are everywhere in the business world from CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs of some of the largest corporations, to owners of local mom-and-pop businesses. While many CPAs still prefer the public accounting life, more and more are working in business and industry, government, education, and consulting.

While the services CPAs provide have certainly expanded since the “bean counter” days, what has not changed is the profession’s commitment to the highest levels of quality and professionalism, unimpeachable ethics, objectivity, and a healthy degree of skepticism.

Pinto’s comment demonstrates a lack of respect for the knowledge, experience, and training required to obtain and maintain a CPA license. Cheri Freeh, PICPA President, responded to his comment in an editorial that was featured in several news sources as well. Read that article here.

The uninformed may still see the profession as strictly numbers crunchers, but we know it has become so much more. While I am not a CPA, I’m proud to say that I represent the CPA profession in Harrisburg. Every day I see the respect those three letters carry with lawmakers and others. It is a shame that there are people like Frank Pinto who insist on still living in the last century.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.