Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Professional mistake level 2

As most companies close their book in December, January is the month where slaves in the finance department a.k.a. accountants slog out the late nights to produce the relevant numbers for the year. Before I left for London, I had to go through a week of such torture, right after my wedding.
This is my 2nd year end reporting with my current company and I must say this so called peak period, is indeed the peak of the ‘professional mistake’ accountants make. While those who have read my entry on professional mistake will accountants are the ultimate modern slaves, going through 2 rounds of year end reporting further strengthen the notion.

So what exactly is this year end reporting period, or year end closing; or peak period, whatever you may call it? To me, the entire process can be summarised into 3 main processes.

The first is the time where accountants have to clean up the mess in the accounts. And yes, it’s ALWAYS in a mess. Who causes the mess? Well, some are made my accountants themselves but most are made by people from the operation department. Stuff like expenses wrongly classified cause some salesman treat some customers to some hookers but came back and call it ‘meals for customers’ or some sales which the customers promised while screwing the hooker and after screwing, decided otherwise but sales were recorded in the accounts. Ya’ know, stuff like that.

So yeah, accountants will have to hunt down all these mess in the accounts and rectify them. Who created those mess and gets to probably share the ‘meals’ with the customers? Those people in operations, ya’ know; those who don’t have professional qualifications like accountants. And who has to work their ass off to clean up the mess? Who else but accountants?

After cleaning up the mess; and it’s usually not fully cleaned; then comes the time to beautify the accounts. This means, if targets of certain departments are not met, accountants will have to make the numbers look as though it’s met. When certain expenses exceeded the budget or when a company spent dodgy expenses (remember the hooker meals for customers?), accountants are to make such expenses valid.

Yes, this is the time when accountants do the very thing they are employed for… to work their magic.

After the mess have been cleaned and the relevant numbers beautified ‘made to look reasonable’… then comes the time for accountants to con-vince the external auditors that the figures shown in the accounts are ‘real’. External auditors for big corporations are usually hopeful graduates of magic school and they are supposed to audit and certify that the relevant numbers are ‘real’.

As such, accountants in the said company will have to make sure the un-cleaned mess are not found and the ‘magic’ performed are not ‘overly excessive’; thus begins a game of hide and seek. Of course, auditors will sometimes find out all the ‘hidden’ things but with the said company being the customer of the auditor; the company is always right.

The beautiful thing about this process is that this is the time where auditors will learn how to clean up the mess and work the magic. This is crucial because… after all, auditors are future full fledge accountants. See the link?

Finally, when the auditors are con-vinced, the numbers are finalised. This usually happens after accountants have gone through after days and days of late nights, skipping lunches, eating unhealthy food for dinner… basically treating themselves like thrash in doing what they believe is ‘something only smart and intelligent professional people can do’.

Why is this the next step of professional mistake?

Because at the end of it all, the company will show an ‘excellent result’, and the people duly rewarded for those excellent results are the operations people. Those who couldn’t make it to become accountants or lawyers because they are not smart enough and ended up doing sales… these are the people who will get a fat bonus because the numbers have been cleaned and made reasonable by the smart people.

What do the smart accountants get then? They will be picked on the mess which were not cleaned, the magic that were not done properly, the parts where the auditors were not con-vinced. Basically, accountants will be told that they didn’t do good enough.

Isn’t this a new level of professional mistake?

47 comments:

suituapui said...

Count other people's money first and clear up the mess (and lose all ur hair in the process! That's why all accountants are bald? Those with hair...I bet they're hair implants!!! LOL!)...and then, when u get paid, count ur own money, money, money...and laugh all the way to the bank!!!

PS: Re. previous post, "tuapui" = cute and cuddly, or in other words, FAT! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

myop101 said...

haha...

which is why i saw the light in less than 2 years. just went through 1 cycle is enough for me...:)

it is so lame to be in support where people forget your contribution. it is also very sad to claim credit when it is not due (like accounts dept make ROE = double digit! by selectively deciding how much dividend to pay!)

anyway, just to let you know, post-magic period where i am now, work is reasonable, people are nice and i feel aptly rewarded (especially last month).

oh yeah...congrats on finally able to go to London despite those ungrateful idiots whining...:) the best thing to do now is to enjoy it and rub it on their faces with photos once you are back.

Twisted Heels said...

On why I could never be an accountant, took it up as a subject, rarely got a balance. It was always -ve. My magic obviously didn't work!

Sunshine said...

people who can make shit looks like gold is always sought after to make more shit look like gold

then later, the high expectations sets in, and they will start asking how come this shit that become gold got no diamonds, emeralds or rubies??

missironic said...

i steered away frm professional courses. lolz...

Huei said...

hmm..why are those ppl creating a mess hired to do that?? =P

Sharon said...

LOL it's so true!
but hey i thought accountants get fat bonus too?

Hor ny Ang Moh said...

Well what u say is true! But u 'forgot' to mention that an accountant pay is much higher then those in operation! U will never find operation stuff flying buss class!
Beside this a good accountant has the abbilities to squeez the company directors 'ball'!!!
Apart from auditors, accountant are most fear in any company!
Well u lose some & u gain some!
Have a nice day!

Hor ny Ang Moh said...

Well what u say is true! But u 'forgot' to mention that an accountant pay is much higher then those in operation! U will never find operation stuff flying buss class!
Beside this a good accountant has the abbilities to squeez the company directors 'ball'!!!
Apart from auditors, accountant are most fear in any company!
Well u lose some & u gain some!
Have a nice day!

Wuching said...

maybe its time to downgrade to an unprofessional salesperson

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

well at least u got to go to london while the others got the "shit" ahaha

giddy tiger said...

That is one heck of a vicious cycle, and so well put, coming from someone in an intelligent position.

Helen said...

I really did thought of taking up accountancy back then because it's a 'professional' job. But then my maths suck and I hate numbers. lol

gina said...

Eh.. then accountants mah... are all liars lor? Hahahah. Very good liars. I am CON-vinced. :D

Supergirlfriend said...

hey zewt. Yeah, there's the irony there rite? the smart ppl study their brains off to be where they are only to wipe the dirt off those less intelligent beings. Love your ultra-detailed description. Haha. Got my eyes all opened. :p

KGC said...

Ha! That's why I decided to leave the 'magic' dept. And not forgetting that leave will be frozen at every month end, after that reconciliation/balancing, etc. and before you know it, another cycle (circus) begins.

zewt said...

suituapui - that is why i am glad i married before i am bald...

myop101 - aptly rewarded... specially last month huh... wow... that is really good to know. :)

twisted heels - hahaha... i am sure u chose a much better path in medicine.

Sunshine - very very very very well said!!

missironic - good move :)

Huei - cos they make money for the company.

Sharon - nothing compared to those who does sales.

Hor Ny - who said only accountants fly business class? that's not true. yes, the monthly pay is higher... but annual pay... nothing compares...

zewt said...

Wuching - may be the best move ever.

constant craver joe - wrong... i am in london to clear up the REAL shit!

diggy tiger - indeed it is a vicious cycle... and that is how this side of the corprate world function.

Helen - arent you glad that you suck? i mean you're not good in numbers? :P

gina - not liars... just good con-sultant.

supergirlfriend - yeah, and i have been there to feel it all sigh...

KGC - yeah... every freaking month there is this recon that recon... everything is recon... to meet standards set by accountants themselves.

Lynnwei said...

haha...very true......amazing post!
well....in the end, everyone gets the profits! except the accountants if they kena caught!

whoalse said...

Went thru the cycle a few times since not all companies have 31 Dec as their year end!!!

I'm now sitting on the other side of the table and perhaps I should try to be nasty with the junior "magicians" in a few months' time.

-=SiN=- said...

Normal is getting dressed in clothers that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car and the house you leave vacant all day so you may afford to live in it - R.D 07

hmm a lifestyle mistake perhaps? :x

good luck in stress management, though I pity auditor most; they are probrably the least welcome in every companies.. :D

ah nel said...

wat is blog ha as i lost from here so long ledi...

*Congratulation to ur wedding n i hope its not too late to wish* ;)

if u work in any bank and u can be my accountant so u can make mistake all the time n transfer more money to me n i swear i treat u eat...LOL

rachel said...

ahhh~ my future~

*sweats*

kyliemc said...

yaya..and it's so messy til u can almost faint.clients put in astro bills,their cny shopping bills,etc..even going 2 disneyland bills...can die..

my eyes so blurry already because some of the bills fade..can't really see the numbers.the worst part is doing a/c and audit together,double but if client does the a/c it's more than double work...assets turn into expenses and liabilities turn into asset? really shocking...

haiz,why am i torturing myself? i guess there's no such thing as rest period because everyday is like peak period..so sad...guess i better find a time to do mask or else i'll look way older than my age.muahhaa...and you say it all!it's so true..

Bee Ean said...

zewt,

Is it the same in London? Do operation people go have fun and charge the company too? I asked bcos it seems this is not a phenomena in France. I heard that in China real contracts get signed in karaoke room or night clubs with girls around, but I have not yet heard about this here.

mar said...

Darn it zewt...It sucks that what you wrote is true.

sooi2 said...

So meaning u'r in London [at this time of the yr]to clean up the Brits' shit izit? if liddat where got time to lepak in ur awesome apartment and cook killer fish & chips in ur spanking kitchen la? LOL

mh said...

yeah...after a while, you realise there is only so much u can take. I went through one full cycle...and I thought - enuff man! am not cut for the job, even if others think i am.

zewt said...

Lynnwei - i always say... we bear the risk, they take the bliss...

whoalse - hahaha.... have no mercy!

-=Sin=- - coming here and working for 2 days... i can see such a vast difference in the working culture. will blog more.

ah nel - thanks thanks... long time no see you leh...

rachel - and is such future you really desire?

zewt said...

kyliemc - you have read it all before ad you are still in it? hmmm... i guess now you can truly feel the real thing eh?

Bee Ean - well, i dont think the french or the english do it, but i can assure you... malaysian and chinese do it ... all the time.

mar - it sucks even more to be in it!

sooi2 - yeah, i hardly use the stuff in my apartment... sigh...very bad la like that.

mh - hmmm... what are you doing now then?

suituapui said...

Are u and Jules having fun yet??? I hear the weather is TERRIBLE there this year...! Well, London's infamous weather has always been nootorious anyway! Missing the Malaysian endless sunshine already?? (Like the lyrics to Roger Whitaker's THE LAST FAREWELL)

beeranyone said...

never blame the operation ppls...

some customers could only put their signature on dotted line when they are 30K feet above...

and some could only do it holding a mike or a single malt...

but look at the bright side, with sales ppl making a mess and be able shows a healthy balance sheet to boot... that how we differentiate a professional accountant from greenhorns.

rachel said...

i will give it a try... i guess...

Jun said...

wat???!!! no leave for ur honeymoon??? weddding-->peak period work-->london??

HOW CAN???

myop101 said...

to be honest, whatever pay cut I took for leaving you know where was restored to me as of 1st of this month. it is not a minor pay cut k since the pay i am getting when i join this new co is the same as back in you know where minus the 2 months' contractual bonus. so i am very thankful...:)

no more support work for me...:)

cibol said...

and because of that accountants are on top of the AMLA list, profile as Hi-risk ;)

zewt said...

suituapui - eh... she is not here yet ler... hehehe... i dont miss sunshine... i hate sunshine... i prefer the cold to sweaty heat really... :)

beeranyone - that's true... accountants can only present the numbers... they dont control the numbers.

rachel - good luck!

Jun - ...london --> honeymoon in paris and italy... :)

myop101 - yup... not in support... will certainly gain you handsome bonus. but how are they hours?

cibol - i think it's the company who is on AMLA list leh... :)

myop101 said...

to be honest, most of the time i go off by 7 pm...:)

unlike the heydays of you know where...:)

Qiang said...

wah so teruk wan..

suituapui said...

Then u're like me! But then u're not "tuapui" (fat) leh? The Brits hate the cold! I'd open ALL the windows and let the cold air in...and they'd come and close all and turn on the heater! I'd tell them, "In Malaysia, we'd pay a fortune to get our houses this cold!" And I hate heaters! It's like opening the oven to see if ur turkey is roasted or not!!!

zewt said...

myop101 - i guess we all realise by now that the place you've been is a hellhole...

Qiang - hello... welcome to AZAIG. memang teruk...

suituapui - i hate heaters too... it causes the house to be stuffy!!! right?

mh said...

still in the same industry lar, but different perspective. am not the accountant in the commercial firm you are describing. i.e. the one responsible for cleaning up shit after their colleagues f.o.c. now i get paid to prevent shit from happening (hopefully) or clean up shit, at a price.

zewt said...

mh - lucky you... any vacancy? hahahaha....

mh said...

of course. mid east is booming. high liquidity, many investing overseas. demand for international tax experience. but back to working with the magic schools lar - from where you've graduated hehehehehe...where i am, hours are decent. as for pay, sigh...u know how it is compared to commercial. same principles apply everywhere. let me know if serious. hahahahah

zewt said...

mh - gotta know where exactly is this... if oil and gas... definitely worth a thought.

kyliemc said...

yaya...i've read lots bout it from your blog but i'm still in this filed.perhaps experiencing it teaches more things.one thing is for sure~i'm so not going to be an auditor for the rest of my life!oh ya, i've learnt something else too.many people will try to save their save if something happens...lol..guess i'll blog bout it when free :D

zewt said...

kyliemc - yup... the cover your ass culture,i am also touching it soon.