Questions

I know we all became or are becoming CPAs because we like numbers not words. Well, how did that work out for all of you? Looking at the last week, I probably read or wrote 1,000 words for every number I entered on a spreadsheet. The reality is that our life as CPAs is buried in words, including reading contracts, leases, marketing proposals, tax regulations and accounting standards. The resulting work of taking all those words and determining the resulting numbers to put in the accounting systems can be easy or difficult depending on the precision of the questions asked about the documents we read.

Let’s take a recent example that had lots of people talking, the end of Game of Thrones. The big question was who was going to be King or Queen of Westeros at the end. The easy answer is that the king was Bran the Broken of House Stark. Everyone who said it would be Bran was right … well, not so fast. That depends on what question was asked.

If the question asked was who would sit on the Iron Throne at the end, maybe the answer should be no one. I mean, the throne was melted out of existence by Drogon the Dragon, so no one can sit on it, right?

If the question was who will rule the Seven Kingdoms, the answer once again maybe no one, because one Kingdom decided not to bend the knee and be independent at the end.

If the question was which house will rule the Seven Kingdoms, then the answer may be House Stark, because even though one Kingdom decided to be independent, it is also ruled by a member of House Stark, Sansa Stark.

There is a tired old joke about a series of accountants being asked what two plus two is, and the one who gets hired is the one who says what do you want it to be? Maybe we’ve been missing the moral of that joke all these years. Maybe the real point of the joke is that answers depend on the questions asked

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