As I pondered the subject of this article, I was drawn to the title of the 1999 movie “For Love of the Game” starring Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston and based on the novel of the same title by Michael Shaara. I further observed that it was by no accident that the words “Love” and “Game” were written in larger fonts than the rest of the title.
In all professions, the driving desire to excel and to provide tangible solutions to those being served continues to accentuate the difference between players in a game hoping for the best outcome, and players who visualize the best outcome and play the game in a manner to achieve it.
If you are blessed with a birth year close to mine, you will recall the days when the word profession was synonymous with being a doctor or a lawyer. All other occupations were seen as, well just that, something to occupy the time and from which to earn a living.
Fast forward to today and you will see the picture has totally changed. The exponential growth in commerce and economic activities has created a feverish need for an abundance of professional services and subject matter experts. This phenomenon has effectively transformed occupations into accepted professions.
Accounting is unquestionably one of the professions that stand out in this new era, and as the demand for accounting professionals increases, so has the entry of “loveless” players into the game. The accounting shenanigans of the Enron and WorldCom sagas are profound demonstrations of how much or how little love (depending on the perspective) there is for the game.
This absence of a genuine love for the game introduces a debilitating dimension when it impacts directly on the small and micro-business sector. This sector has a major role to play in the process of economic recovery and micro-businesses are being relied on to stand up and be counted. This sector is quite often not strategically empowered to be that catalyst of change and their chance for success depends heavily on access to conscientious expert advice and professional guidance.
Whereas accounting professionals are expected to provide services of the highest standard across the board, I am persuaded that assignments with the micro-business sector ought to be handled with particular care and sensitivity commensurate with the fragility of this sector. Within the scope of their engagement and span of authority, accountants should be prepared to go the extra mile to provide mentorship and direction to small operators. This is a call for commitment to this sector that transcends the monetary value reflected on a client’s engagement letter.
And yes, the love of the game is at the heart of this call to action. The accountant-client relationship is no less than that of a doctor and his patient, and engagements with micro-businesses should be embraced as an opportunity to breathe life back into a floundering sector and, in so doing, foster a sustainable environment where jobs can be created and economic recovery can blossom.
It is ironic that a number of the measures implemented to regulate the accounting profession emanated from a need to protect the integrity of the profession from the very persons who are supposed to be keepers of the gate.
If this sounds like an appeal, it’s because it is exactly that. This is a call to arms for accountants to play for love of the game as so much is riding on their professionalism, integrity, and commitment to excellence.
And for those of you who cannot find it in your hearts to love the game as much as others, having voluntarily entered the game, please, can you at least play by the rules?