Thursday, March 08, 2007

Building the Next Generation of Accountants

My daughter's spelling list this week is all about careers and parents are invited in to talk about their jobs. So I went. I'd done this last year for Micah and it's a lot of fun doing my part to build the next generation of accountants. If you think this sounds boring, stick around for a minute.

In my little presentation:

I illustrated taxes by handing a student a dollar (their "pay") and ripping off part of it for taxes. The class gasped. All the air got sucked out of the room. I explained that they shouldn't rip up dollars, that it was only for this illustration, but they won't forget it. Perhaps it we truly paid people and collected taxes that way we might get tax reform.

I explained auditing by relating it to when they trade papers and grade each other's work. That's an audit. You point out the problems so that they can be fixed next time.

Illustrations for general accounting are harder, allowances helps, lunch money is good for an example or two, etc.

I had a calculator and glow pen for each student. (Surplus items from work with the old logo. We can't use them for customers.) At the end, each student also got a real live dollar bill. (There's 19 students. It's a cheap investment in future accountants and it has a HUGE impact.)

During the Q&A a girl asked who checked on the people doing the checking. I explained that auditors are a special group. They don't actually do any work, they simply check other people's work. At that point, several kids exclaimed that they want to be auditors when they grow up! That's something you don't hear every day!

Fifth graders aren't ready for the SEC and PCAOB lecture or a dissertation on the failures of both the accounting profession and the investment community of the last few years. When it comes to reaching the next generation of kids we're competing with the hero factor of fire fighters, the cool uniforms of the police and the big trucks of construction. So I got to do my small part to keep the profession moving.

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