Accountants: Are They Born or Made? | AccountingWEB

Accountants: Are They Born or Made?

On the website, "Best Colleges Online.Net", an anonymous author named "admin" posted an article on August 8, 2010 entitled, "10 Ways to Know You Were Born to Be an Accountant", as if accountants are born and not made.  That article brings to mind that age-old argument of whether you were doomed to be a gloomy bean counter or whether you were made, crafted, chosen, or forced by someone (your mother?) to be a bean counter.  That is the question, as always:  which came first...the egghead (i.e., accountant) or the egg.  I hate these stupid arguments:  I never seem to get them right.

Apparently an accountant did not write that article.  Probably some liberal arts major—or, even more likely, some marketing major—wrote that piece, since it reads like a blurb, if anything.  Or perhaps some comedy writer on the David Letterman show wrote this originially for the "Top 10" feature of the show, before being axed.  In any event, whoever wrote the article knows little about accounting and less about accountants.  

To prove my point, I will list here the 10 big clues provided by the phantom author, indicating whether one is destined to be an accountant.  Since the blurb appears on a college review website, its obvious intention is to assist those about to enter college and choose a major of study.  The 10 indicators appear in the article as if they were scientifically derived from empirical research and appropriate for an authentic aptitude test.  Of course, being an accountant, I will include my own reactions to the indicators offered, with the intention of illustrating whether or not the 10 big clues do indeed hit the mark or miss the target entirely. 

  1. "Nothing really bores you."  Ridiculous!  I'm an accountant, not a vegetable.  Nothing bores me?  I couldn't count the number of times that I have been lulled into a narcoleptic snooze during endless drivel of politicians, CEOs, marketers, talk-show hosts, ministers, spouses, partners and superiors at public accounting firms, clients, et al.  On the other hand, I bore everyone on earth, including my wife and kiddies.  I don’t bore any friends because I'm too boring to have any friends.  Scratch this one off the list.
  2. "You’ve always embraced technology."  Bullseye!  As a teen/adult/senior I loved Pong, Nintendo, PacMac, and every violent computer game that came on the market.  I was too geeky to have embraced physical sports and members of the opposite sex.  I wished I had embraced the latter before middle age.  I might have had more luck.
  3. "You’ve always loved dealing with numbers."  No, I just sucked at everything else!  I bought Cliff Notes and Monarch Reviews instead of reading all of those books assigned by my teachers.  I still hate writing book reports and that Miss Reilly in 8th grade English.  (My brothers and father had her for English, and they all hated her, too.  But they're not accountants.  Go figure.)
  4. "You have an abnormal passion for tax law."  Although I still have an obscene passion for Susan Dey of L.A. Law, I really struggle with that Swiftian language, "legalese".  Without sophisticated tax software, I wouldn’t know where to begin in preparing a tax return.  I wished my attorney looked like Susan Dey.
  5. "You’ve always sweated the details."  True, because I couldn't see the forest from the trees.  I'm anal and all accountants.  And the details are always easier to deal with.  It's the application of all of our sweaty details to making effective conclusions and decisions that's difficult to do.
  6. "You’ve always welcomed the challenge of solving a problem."  Welcoming the challenge of solving a problem and solving the problem are two different things.  Ask PWC about its inability to catch all of those accounting improprieties going on at AIG, some of which may have extended as far back as twenty years.  I don't welcome the challenge of solving any problem.  I just welcome getting paid, preferably up front, and without doing anything at all, quite frankly.
  7. "You’ve always been conservative with your time."  This is a positive trait?!  Being stingy with one's time, and rushing through one's work without giving it much thought at all?!  Perhaps if certain auditors (who shall remain nameless) had spent a wee little more time on certain audit engagements, they wouldn't be in such big trouble right now.  And although debits and credits is not rocket science, and is not too taxing on our synapses, I'm Italian and I believe that everything—especially work—need not be rushed, but savored, enjoyed, and appreciated to the fullest extent possible.  Slow down and get paid by the hour, I always say.
  8. "You’ve always been a people person."  Right!  And I’m Mother Theresa of Calcutta.  Show me an accountant and I'll show you a Boris Karloff double.  People persons!  LOL!  Is Barbra Streisand the ghost writer of this article?
  9. "You’ve always had a conservative appearance."  Penguins wear a tux everyday.  So what's the point here?!  Virtually all corporate and business people have conservative appearances.  This is not a distinguishing trait of us accountants from other business workers and professionals.  It's just that all of these other business and professional people look much more attractive in their conservative attire than we do.  Let's admit the truth:  we ain't attractive;  i.e., look at my picture.  Enough said.
  10. "Your integrity has always been of the utmost importance to you."  And that explains the bunch of accounting scandals widely reported in the media over the past thirty years involving misleading “creative” accounting, financial analysis, bribery, fraud, and including giants like Nugan Hand Bank, Phar-Mor, WorldCom, AIG, Enron…and let us not forget, Arthur Andersen?!  Sure, a large publicly held client pays us on average a $5 million audit fee every year (plus millions in other services), and we are going to issue this company an adverse opinion on its financial statements and jeopardize losing millions every year because of our integrity?!  Who wrote this article?  Mary Poppins?

Now you know why the article was anonymously credited to "admin".  Admin should do stand up for a living.

Have a tax or an accounting question?  Please feel free to submit it under “Comments” at Accounting, QuickBooks, and Taxes by the Barefoot Accountant.  For information and assistance on any tax and accounting issue, please visit our website:  Accountants CPA Hartford, LLC.

This blog

The Barefoot Accountant—is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor,  operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Berlin, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC.  Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission.  Bill is a crazed animal lover, feeding birds, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, possums, stray cats, and any two-legged or four-legged critter traversing through his yard.  His backyard in Berlin, Connecticut has been certified as a habitat suitable for wildlife by the National Wildlife Federation.

Bill also writes an Accounting, QuickBooks, and Tax blog:  Accounting, QuickBooks, and Taxes by the Barefoot Accountant.  For entertaining articles, please see his listing at The Amazing Brighenti.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.