One Word

It is amazing what a difference one word can make in a common question to CPAs.

The first version is “how should I account for something?” This sentence implies several things. It implies that they trust you know GAAP. It implies that they believe in your integrity. Finally, it implies that they want you to take into consideration the entire process from source data to controls to determine not only the best answer under GAAP, but also the most efficient, effective and repeatable process to get that answer month after month.

The second version is “how can I account for something?” This sentence takes us in a whole different direction. They are asking for options under GAAP. This will not only test the bounds of your knowledge, but the bounds of your integrity as well. It also implies that they are not asking for your input on the process or controls – only on researching possibilities under GAAP. This question is limiting and potentially dangerous at the same time.

So which question does your boss ask?

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