The other night I watched the latest episode of “Castle”.
One of the characters in this episode was an accountant, portrayed in a very stereotypical fashion – a bit pasty, thinning on top, glasses (of course) and a bit light in the personality / charisma department.
Now, I’m an accountant and while I confess to being very thin on top and wearing glasses, I’ve got to say that there are plenty of us bean counters who are anything but boring. And that got me thinking – how many of us interesting accountants feel trapped in our profession? Do we regret our choice of career, yet despite the tedium, remain somewhat fascinated by the elegant simplicity of the logic that underpins accountancy – the magical way the numbers balance?
Well, there is hope. If you love accounting but are disillusioned with the day to day practice of it, why not consider becoming an ERP software consultant? (ERP – fancy acronym for accounting and financial management software).
You see, the typical accountant, like the guy in that “Castle” episode, is most likely a quiet, analytical, introverted type, happiest when crunching the numbers, working on their latest Excel masterpiece, or figuring out a cryptic crossword with a nice cup of tea. They like routine and their own space. They avoid risk.
It’s not all about numbers
But what about those accountants who yearn to break free of the numbers, the reconciliations, the constant balancing act? Many will find an outlet in the antithesis of their working lives – amateur dramatics, singing in choirs, ball room dancing, team sports, activities where being in the limelight is part of the fun.
Taking a risk, acting on a hunch, meeting people, socialising and being exposed to a constant diet of new experiences gives them the buzz that their working lives cannot provide. They welcome the unexpected. They like spontaneity, maybe even a touch of chaos. Others are creative. But creative accounting is not good form, so they create in other ways. They cook. They paint. They make music.
Well, as a software consultant, especially in the SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) space, those very things that gets you rushing out of the office at 5:30 pm and off to the church hall, the local playing field, art school, band practice or the airport, can be part of your working life.
Everyday is like…
For a start, everyday is different. On Monday, you might be with a sales colleague, demonstrating software to a prospective client in the insurance broking industry, somewhere in London (i.e. putting on a show to a small but very interested audience). On Tuesday and Wednesday you could be running a training course in Reading for the purchasing and banking staff of a wholesale distribution business (you always wanted to be a teacher).
Then on Thursday you’re in the office with your project management team getting ready to head off to the Middle East to carry out the detailed analysis for implementation of a new financial management system for the Saudi Arabian branch of a worldwide logistics company. You’ve been learning Arabic. Now you can practice. And you get to see someplace new. At someone else’s expense.
Not much accounting in any of this? Don’t you believe it. Most of the time, despite the varied tasks that come the way of the ERP consultant, you will be interacting with people where accounting is an integral, if not significant part, of their working lives.
And time and again, I have found that as an accountant, I am welcomed by customers and prospects because I can talk their language and immediately understand their business processes from an accountancy viewpoint. That’s not something that people with an IT background (who more often than not are the source of ERP consultants) can do quite so readily.
ERP consultants give birth to new financial management systems. We meet a prospect, we get them excited about implementing a new system, we understand their requirements, design a solution, get to build it, teach the client how to use it. Our baby transforms their experience of running their business.
Time for a change?
We are creative. We solve puzzles. We like getting out and about, meeting and communicating with people. We still love the magic of accounting, the logic behind it, and we do get a buzz out of a nice juicy spreadsheet. But in small doses. We’d rather be out there figuring out better ways for companies to manage their financial processes. Does that sound like you? Fed up with doing VAT returns and statutory accounts? Cheesed off with massive reconciliations? Then why not investigate the option of becoming an ERP consultant?
We’re always on the lookout. So talk to us about applying your accountancy skills in a very different, challenging and exciting way. You might fall in love with your chosen profession all over again. I did. I still consider myself to be an accountant but after 30 years of being an ERP consultant, I look forward to Monday mornings.