Top Eight (8) Challenges Faced by Accountants in Public Pratice

When you have the experience, knowledge and the right level of confidence to deal with clients, public practice is undoubtedly right for you.  In the ever demanding world of business, accountants play vital roles and this opens an opportunity to make business.

We are aware of the fact that our profession is regulated and, therefore, we need to meet certain qualifications before we can do public practice but that isn’t the biggest challenge we face. Yes, we are like chosen from pool of professionals from the time we graduated to eventually passing the CPA exam, gaining some meaningful experiences (as our code describes) and eventually having the guts to practice. Making it to public practice is way farther, but great challenges are always there to bug us.

8th – Growing your clientele

This is for those starting up. Depending on few clients with high fees couldn’t last. What if you lost them? You have to compete with the current players and you need to show how excellent you are in providing client service. It isn’t that easy.

7th – Increasing fees

You have a client for five (5) years now but your fee never increased since day one. Regulators are very demanding and require new types of reports to be issued aside from the normal assurance report but your client allows you to bill with an increase only equal to the inflation rate.

6th – Recruiting competent staffs

According to statistics, millions of Filipino are jobless. They don’t have the experience yet, they demand a managerial-level salary you barely can afford. Are these inexperienced guys competent enough to demand? Quality is one of the most sought-after aspect of our work and we need to balance the cost and quality of the staffs we are recruiting.  Even if they claim they have the experience we need, we still have to train them to fit our standards.

5th – Complex accounting and reporting requirements

Regulators have been very strict nowadays.  They have been very active in finding ways to collect more taxes and to protect public interests.  SEC have been issuing dramatically high number of letter of comments to financial statements as BIR issues tax assessments left and right.  The before used to be financial statements and income tax returns for filing should now be accompanied by supplementary schedules and reports.

Even accounting standards have been continuously updating to the point that, what you’ve known before are no longer applicable. Standards are amended left and right and some are even revised that tend to disorient us.

4th – Difficult-to-deal-with client officers and personnel

Clients, sometimes, assume that they know more than you do.  They think that the “Accounting 101” subject included in their business course give them thorough understanding of all the accounting matters and decides even before you recommend.  They speak of “there’s no business sense on that” without thinking “what about accounting sense?”.  As they assume to know everything, they would make it difficult for you to negotiate higher fee.

There are also client who looks at auditors as police, ready to make a painful arrest when anything fraudulent is discovered. They’re defensive, but not necessarily guilty.  And as a return, they’d make it hard for you to complete your work, delay everything you need, until you will be the one pending.

3rd – Tight made tighter deadlines

Deadlines are agreed, great! Yes, you can do it if all planned activities will be done as schedules. Then they fail to provide you the schedules on time. What about that, regulatory deadlines can’t be adjusted (except for fortuitous event). Now you should be the one to adjust. Work overtime and even over night but it is just not enough.  Coffee?

2nd – Keeping self updated with changes

I know everything today! What about tomorrow? I really don’t understand why regulators keep changing the basics and making us pay for noncompliance. There is no year wherein SEC, BIR, and accounting and audit promulgating bodies didn’t make amendments, revisions, improvements and the likes on laws, rules and regulations and standards. They keep changing and you should always be updated! It is our personal and professional responsibility to be updated.

Even CPA candidates are bothered because what they know when they graduated may not be the same thing they should know if they fail to pass the first try.

1st – Maintaining independence and integrity

Your propose this, in accordance with the standards, but your client want that since that has more business sense. Your client wants to pay less taxes. Your client wants to report more profit to stakeholders. Your client believes so much in you and asked you to bookkeep the company you are auditing. You enjoy the gift given by your client – a new car!

Keep in mind that you are bound by the code of ethics for professional accountants and you should be doing away with anything that will discredit the profession. Weigh things. We are here to provide professional services and we should always consider public interest. Violation may cause the revocation of our license, our worst, can even put us behind bars.

These challenges are always present and will test us, on how strong our stands are when it comes to doing the right thing. These will test us how can we prove ourselves and show our clients how we can provide them exceptional client service without compromising our integrity and the quality of our work. If we address these challenges appropriately, we will be the professional accountants our clients can never afford to lose.

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