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Oscar Wilde an Accountant?

Musing recently on a quote from one of his plays and being an accountancy recruitment consultant, it provoked a slightly mischievous thought: Oscar Wilde might have been an accountant!

The current economic crisis has demanded that the public sector cut millions from various service delivery budgets up and down the country. The private sector has also been challenged with examining their budgets to keep businesses afloat and indeed to maintain profit margins where possible or indeed take advantage of the climate to expand. Inevitably, this unenviable challenge falls at the door of accountants. (Some of whom may also be witty, budding playwrights but this isn’t the link!)

Some accountants have adopted an across the board percentage cut to budgets to achieve targets and expect operational managers to get on with the imposed constraints. While there is some merit in this approach in very specific circumstances, most know it isn’t that simple.

The more visionary and imaginative accountants set out, with their General Managers and Managing Directors, to evolve business models to provide the same or improved services and products for less cost. They will look to where real value lies in the business or service to preserve or enhance it in these times. They will examine very closely the interrelationships between value of service/product, cost savings and desired outcomes before acting and reducing budgets.  There is a major difference between direct cost cut and carefully and thoughtfully reduced budgets in order to maintain overall value.

Oscar Wilde it seems was very much aware of the principle of “value”, albeit in a different context, when he wrote in his play Lady Windermere’s Fan; “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing” Oscar Wilde, by a twist of fate, might have made a very good accountant. Then again, he might also have been one of accountancy’s severest critics. Just paraphrase “what is an accountant?……”

On an optimistic note, for those brave enough to grasp it, there is a real opportunity to rise to the occasion and to show that you are of value and not a cost to your organisation.

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