Lock 'em Up and Throw Away the Key

Today's Globe and Mail newspaper had an article about a woman who clearly needed to be taught a lesson that would serve as a deterrent to others:

Bela Kosoian, a 38-year-old mother of two, says when she didn't hold the handrail [on the transit escalator] Wednesday, she was cuffed, dragged into a small holding cell and fined.

Okay, if the police are going to arrest people for that kind of violation, I have a few other transgressions that deserve their attention.

  1. Accountants who cram too many columns of numbers onto one page. You know the ones I mean. They put the monthly actual, budget, last year month, budget variance, and last year month variance on the left side of the report, then the year to date actual, budget, last year, budget variance, last year variance and full year budget on the right side, making the font so small you need an electron microscope to see the numbers let alone make sense of them. Book 'em Danno.
  2. Blaming the new system. The new computer has been blamed so many times for so many things, that I'm not buying that excuse any more. If you can't get your computer system to work, send me a manual payment. I'm not that picky, really.
  3. Balanced with a difference. As Yoda says, "Balanced you are or unbalanced you are. There is no balanced with a difference." Take away their bookkeeping license!
  4. Oh, I forgot to give you this last receipt. Everyone who prepares personal tax returns knows this miscreant, the person who lets you do all your work on their return only to come to you at the last minute with a piece of paper to add to the shoebox of forms they already dumped on you. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict?
  5. I just want to push a button and . . . This one's personal. I hate it when people oversimplify their reporting needs and assume that the system is designed to give them exactly what they need at the proverbial push of a button. We recommend the maximum penalty the law allows your honor.
  6. It's immaterial. Auditors can say, "It's immaterial" all they like. That's music to my ears because it means I can stop working on that issue. But when anyone else hides behind materiality, they should be cuffed and jailed. If it isn't right, it's wrong. Off with their heads!
  7. Blame the budget. If an expense is over budget or a revenue doesn't come in as planned, it's pointless to say the budget was wrong. You had your chance at budget time. Now it's "fixing the problem" time, so get out there and do it!
  8. Put down the client. If a client complains, you should get down on your knees and thank them for the opportunity to serve them better. Most clients don't complain. They just take their business elsewhere. Officer, arrest this accountant!
  9. Incomprehensible gobbledygook. Arguably, communication is half of the job of an accountant. Financial analysts who fill their reports with talk of accruals and negative variances being partially offset by timing differences deserve to be led off in chains.
  10. Excel sins. They should reopen Alcatraz for people who:
  • Override the formula in a long column of calculations,
  • Change standard templates, such as budget or expense forms,
  • Type in the totals instead of calculating them,
  • Insert blank lines and columns into a table - you can make it readable without making it unsortable,
  • Allow different, incompatible versions of a spreadsheet float around,
  • Type numbers into cells without leaving any trail for others to follow, and
  • Forget to round their formula results so that their totals don't add.

What other indictable crimes do you know? Please use the comments below so I can pass them onto the authorities. They clearly have the time!

This blog

by Bill Kennedy, CA.IT, PMP - With over 25 years of accounting experience, Bill has a varied background in accounting management and accounting systems implementation, with a focus on the charitable sector. He is also an experienced volunteer board member and fundraiser.

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