My Writing > • Why do we do this? Accounting, that is...

10 Apr 2006

Originally Published Online by ProConnection Newsletter, Intuit Canada, Vol. 2 - Issue 7 - APR 2006


Eileen Reppenhagen

Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor


Why do we do this? Accounting, that is.

Because we can. Because they need us. Because we know how. Because we have invested all this time, energy, money into being an accountant and it’s about to pay off.

But does it really pay off?

The things we tell ourselves in April.

  • You are not taking any new clients this April.
  • You know that 80 or 800 tax returns are just too many, but how can you say no when they all need you?
  • You are never going to retire.
  • You are not going to do this next year.
  • You are not going to be an accountant all your life.
  • You are going to do all the things you never had time to do in April, when you retire.

My husband, a teacher, the math and statistics guy, always says that teachers who do not have hobbies die soon after retirement, because they did not plan beyond teaching.

What about accountants, you ask?

I do not want to be an accountant who accounted until I drop dead, or when I stop, drop dead shortly after.

I want to volunteer to build an orphanage or teach English, while learning Spanish in Mexico or live in a villa on the coast of Spain. I want to ride a bike from Paris to the coast of France and eat bread and drink wine along the way. And, I want my life here to matter and not just because someone got a tax refund.

My dream, while sitting in tax and accounting update seminars, for many years was to be the presenter. I knew I could present as well or better than most of the presenters that I was paying hundreds of dollars to listen to. Many times, out of sheer boredom, I would ask questions or engage the speaker in dialogue, just to lessen the boredom. It was not that those speakers were boring; it was that I was bored. Boredom's’ a phase that everyone goes through – accountants and non accountant types - and it’s a sign you need to grow.

I used to wonder, if as we age, our memory would be able to remember all of those changes. Does age shrivel and shrink our brain, just like our face and our stature? And, the Tax Act just keeps getting thicker and heavier. Where will it end? Will the tax act be the cause of someone’s death when it falls on them?

I swore I would retire by the time I was 55 or find something else to do. At 50, after hosting a birthday party for myself, I woke up and decided that if I was actually going to live out what I had been thinking about, I had better start working, rather then talking about it. Now, five years to my retirement doesn’t seem like a long time, when I just have a vague idea. Just think about it, there’s planning, organizing, marketing and then we have to develop new skills, if we want to engage in a change.

We, as accountants, are part of an aging subset of accountants, who serve the public. The scary part is that there just is not the influx into the accounting industry by enough younger people to replace us, when we want to get out of this business. I do not wonder why, I know why. My swollen ankles due to poor circulation and not enough movement for 30 days during April, tell me why.

It sucks to be an accountant in April. When will the government wake up and make everyone file their tax return, based on the month of their birth, rather than all at once.

So, as I worked on my plan for retirement, a fluke happened.

Someone asked me what they could do for me. And, I said, “Hire me to speak.” To which they said something like; well, we can’t do that, but we might be able to get you published.

Then, they introduced me to Joanna Tompkins. The rest, as they say is history.

I discovered that when you are a published author, people want to hire you to speak.

Then came the question, “What can you speak about?”

What you know about.

As an accountant, taxation, cash management, record keeping software, investment accounting and most importantly, something no one else was talking about, disability tax credits.

I learned that the narrower your scope and the more passionate you are, the more you are in demand.

Do you know what you are passionate about? Just ask five people who know you and then shut up and listen. They will tell you. When I asked, one person had the courage to tell me I was passionate about people’s rights about the rules. She hit the nail on the head. The best part is that people should know more about their rights, which leaves a lot of room for you.

The next time you dream about doing something else, besides sitting at a computer preparing tax returns for 80 hours a week, remember that you could be sitting at a computer writing articles, that in its self could propel you out the door into your community, to speak about something you love to talk about.

Not only could you generate an income from writing and speaking, you could generate more business for your practice, while increasing your confidence and communication skills.

Don’t wait until retirement to share your expertise with your community.

Oh yes, beware, you will be meeting all kinds of new people. So, when you turn into a ‘rain maker’ for your practice, you just might have to hire more staff or refer all those potential clients to your associates.




Eileen Reppenhagen, QuickBooks ProAdvisor  

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