There Is One Thing I Know For Sure: The World Needs More Accountants
By Kendall Verbeek, MAcc ‘15
I may be a bit biased, but humor me for a moment: The world wouldn’t run without accountants.
We get a bad rap in pop culture, but it is widely agreed that the hallmark of any developed economy is a sophisticated and well-established capital market. Well, folks, guess what group fuels these immensely important capital markets with information?
Starts with an “A-” and rhymes with “counting”. (As in, I’m still counting the times I’m going to have to explain this before any non-accountants actually believe me.)
Now, I’m not here to convince you that accounting is the best subject you could ever study (though it most assuredly is), but if accounting information is what drives capital markets, accountants—the stewards of that information—are playing a hugely important role.
A recent spring break trip with my classmates to Washington, D.C. really drove home this point for me. Each year at this time, students in the Ross MAcc Program attend a weeklong EY Accounting and Public Policy Symposium in our nation’s capital. (Sexy name, right? Okay, it’s kind of dry, but I promise this is important!)
Influential experts, speakers, and high-ranking governmental officials talked with us throughout the week on everything from lobbying to cyber security to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We were able to talk to former and current members of Congress, hear from the Deputy Chief Accountant of the SEC, and learn from partners at EY and Cotton & Company. So many experts in their respective fields carved out chunks of their time to speak with future business leaders and impress upon us the importance of accounting in the wider world.
One of the major points I took away from the week is how accounting doesn’t exist in a vacuum or some anonymous, windowless basement of an office building. It profoundly shapes and is impacted by public policy, the organizations that regulate it, lobbyists, corporations, company values... the list goes on and on.
If something so immensely important to society is being deeply influenced by outsiders, it’s imperative that, as well-trained accountants, we understand how. That’s the point of this symposium and the reason that MAcc students are required to take this trip to the nation’s capital: to experience the many things influencing accounting and learn how it all beautifully weaves the business world together.
To future and current business students, the biggest lesson I learned this past spring break is that a deep understanding of accounting is imperative to a successful career in business. If you find it interesting, pursue it. Ignore the stereotypes and the jokes. Embrace it and know with certainty that accounting is a critical part of the business world. I’m telling you, an industry so crucial should be flooded with new talent!
The world really could use more accountants.
Kendall Verbeek is a student in the Michigan Ross Master of Accounting program. She’s set to graduate in May.
UPDATE: Upon graduation, Kendall will be going to work for the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) as a Postgraduate Technical Assistant, after being nominated by the Ross MAcc program.