The Biggest Myth

The second biggest myth about the CPA profession is that we all do taxes. As soon as someone finds out you’re a CPA, one of the first things they do is ask you a tax question. The reason I say it’s only the second biggest myth is because at least it’s true that a significant minority of our profession do tax work for a living.

The biggest myth is that being a CPA is about working with numbers. Isn’t the reason we all became CPAs is because we were good with numbers and liked math!  In coming up on my 27th anniversary of getting my CPA license, and I can still honestly say the college course I use most, day in and day out, is the course I took on business and technical writing.  A course which I am not ashamed to say I got a “B” in back in college. But who cares about that; I mean it wasn’t like I was going to be using it all of the time. It wasn’t actual accounting. Hah!

Ask a CPA what they do, and if they aren’t talking with clients, colleagues or others in their organizations, they are probably writing those same people responses to questions or memos to document research and decisions. The fact is that as CPAs we write a lot.  Have you seen those footnotes and MD&A’s? Have you seen the support documentation for a tax position or a valuation report? That doesn’t even crack the surface when you start including all the emails, instant messages and even blogs that some of us write.

Writing is a big part of what we do, but many of us have never taken a course or even read an article on how to be a better writer. Therefore, I thought that I would share a few articles I read recently to help me become a better writer. I may not do everything these articles say, but I’m a true believer in lifelong learning, so I figure I have some time to keep improving.

Think you don’t need any help?  Check out this article from our profession’s own Journal of Accountancy on English expressions that trip up writers.

Think you need to use big words to communicate with all those smart people in the world? This article on readability will make you think twice.

Want some simple steps to quickly improve you writing? Try this article with 15 easy steps to improve your writing.

Wonder what that passive voice versus active voice discussion is all about? Check out this article with tips on using active voice.

Want some proof on how to communicate better? Check out this article on science backed tips to improve your writing.

Remember, you may be the smartest CPA in the world, but if no one can understand you, that won’t matter. Words matter as much as, if not more than, the numbers.

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