Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I am not a fan of Chartered Accountants

Apparently, the answer to the above question is not obvious. Makes me feel that we live in a world filled with chartered accountants. Top 6 reasons below

1. Rule of 44A: This is the rule that allows CA's to arbitrarily club 2 numbers and an alphabet and hide behind that - no questions asked.

2. Propensity to act like the military: CA's either tell you that something cannot be done, or that they will take care of the issue (they often flipflop between the two, which can be mildly irritating). Never, will they tell you how something is taken care of or why something needs taking care of. The left hand shall never know what the right hand does.

3. Popular belief that CA's are good at maths: CAs know how to add/manipulate numbers that can be put on a spreadsheet. They generally know diddly-squat about maths. Most CAs wont know that the probability of them understanding anything has to be lesser than or equal to one, no matter how great they are. It is an unfortunate reality of our country that someone who can add/subtract using excel sheets is considered "strong in numbers".

4. Legal system that gives them a monopoly: Put simply, the signature of a CA carries value. So, throw a simple demand-supply equation in and you know what I am getting at.

5. An education system that de-selects intelligence: I find it very hard to believe that someone with a high level of intelligence will tolerate the slow decay of brain cells that is CA preparation. So, CAs strike that exact beautiful balance. One needs to show resilience, diligence and some degree of smarts to get there. But you are essentially dealing with a peer group that is not frightfully smart because of the dumbing-down required to get there. An awesome cocktail to facilitate the indoctrination that follows. A very narrow IQ band of 90-95 or thereabouts would fit the bill, I think.

6. An extremely inflated sense of self-worth: Now, this is what gets me the most. So, there goes the rant-alert. The game is rigged to select irritants with average IQ and give them monopoly powers. At best, this is a positive result for society because it prevents these characters from interrupting other productive activities. If all of us see it this way, we could all treat CA-dom as a necessary evil and get on with life. However, this is where indoctrination plays spoil-sport. CAs are bred to believe that they are phenomenal because a) it is so difficult to become one and b) they are the number-keepers of all of society.

I once attended this party where there were 4 couples. All 4 couples had young kids and the first two couples I interacted with the mothers had taken a break from work to handle the kid(s). When I ran into couple no 3, I asked the wife if she was working, very innocently (with not even a tinge of chauvinism, I must add). She was more than mildly irritated and replied "I am a CA" (with a nasal twang that so called high-brow South Indians are wont to use). Somehow this was meant to convey to me that she not working would be such a loss to society that it could not even be contemplated. This made me recall this timeless scene from one of my favourite movies - with the immortal line, "Athulla enna peruma, get out"

Next time some CA has that "I am a CA, please give me the respect it deserves" look, think about the line - "Athulla enna peruma, get out" (For good measure imagine Thengai Srinivasan and Rajnikant as well). I have noticed that even though it does little to change CA's perception of oneself even a smidgeon, it makes your conversation with said CA slightly less miserable. And if you are unfortunate enough to be caught in a conversation with a CA, this is the best you can hope for.

A sense of humour that can compete with that of a hockey stick, an ability to spout global inanities at the first request for detail and vice versa, propensity to underestimate other professions, etc can be added to the list of CA characteristics that can be less endearing. But no point flogging a dead horse and all that :)

I need to add a disclaimer here, because the CAs have a chip on the shoulder and are liable to list down a series of successful CAs in a bid to reclaim the holy-land that is CA-dom. Not all CAs are dumb. There is bound to be a sizeable minority of CAs who are reasonably intelligent and tolerable. This is called law of averages. The likelihood of finding a CA who is smart and tolerable is about as high as finding someone else with any other qualification, be it B.Com or BE or BA. The other graduates accept this as reality, CAs will perceive this as an insult. And that is the most painful factor about them.