Don’t Call Us Preparers

I don’t know when or where it started, but I’m tired of the rest of the profession calling CPAs who work for companies “preparers.”  CPAs in public accounting are often referred to as practitioners.  What is implied is that they actually practice accounting, while those of us who work for companies do something less. This implied double standard needs to stop.

If you have any doubts let’s look at what we “preparers” have to be:

  • Writers – we have to tell the story of the company and what it did in the past few years in plain English so that non-accountants can understand what happened.
  • Analysts – we have to analyze the financial and non-financial numbers so we can help others understand what happened and help them understand what is useful in predicting future results.
  • Investigators – before we can analyze the results and write about them we have to dig into multiple systems to figure out what happened in the first place.
  • Valuation experts – We have to understand how to value all sorts of assets from patents, to licenses to stocks to whole businesses.  It’s not enough to rely on the experts.  We have to understand multiple valuation techniques, key assumptions, what might change the results and why the final values are the right ones.
  • Legal experts – we have to evaluate purchase contracts, sales contracts and employment contracts, as well as evaluate and measure outcomes of undecided cases in court.

But with all these great abilities there is one missing, the ability to get people to stop calling us “preparers.”  Maybe it’s time to reverse the roles.  While auditors “practice” those of us in business “do.”  So until someone can come up with a better term instead of calling us “preparers,” call us the “doers.”

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