Over the lifetime of the accounting and finance profession, there have been many stages of evolution, and one way to understand it is through sports.
In every type of sport, there are many people and roles involved to make the game work, but there are four common roles that I think best help you understand the evolution of Accounting and Finance.
The Scorekeeper – this person(s) role is all about keeping the scoreboard updated so everyone knows the score and the major updates. This role is extremely reactive.
Referees - in any organized activity there are rules and procedures, and someone(s) have to make sure the rules are followed and rule-breakers are identified.
Statisticians – similar to the scorekeeper, but this role tracks a lot more details on just about every player in the game.
PressBox Staff –the part of the coaching staff that sit in the press box and analyze the score, rules, and statistics of both teams to come up with proactive advice for the coaches and the players on the field.
So how does all of this related to the evolution of the accounting and finance profession.
Scorekeepers – in the early days we were just bean counters working in the background keep track of the books and tracking a few major metrics. Similar to spots this was a very reactive background type job.
Referees – after major incidents of corporate misconduct things like Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) became a major topic and accounting and finance became compliance and audit patrol. Many people looked to the accounting and finance team as the people who made sure the organization followed the rules.
Statisticians – as technology advanced so did our ability to track more data. This would be the age of Spreadsheets, PowerPoint decks, and metrics tracking. Although statistics are being tracked on a mass level this function still feels like a behind the scene or after the fact type of activity.
PressBox Staff – this is where we become “Business Partners.” As a “Business Partner” our goal is to use our experience and knowledge of the score, the rules, and statistics to come up with proactive recommendations and strategies to help the team move forward. This is where we go from backstage trackers to frontline contributors.
Now the goal for us all is to move toward becoming more like the “Press Box Staff” where we leverage everything that we used to do behind the scenes and as a referee to come up with proactive advice to help our team win.
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