Wednesday, 10 August 2011

charity accounting

yay, drug-free from today and feeling a lot better! however, one of the joys (or maybe not) of being an accountant is that every charitable organisation you happen to come into contact with will either ask you to be the treasurer or ask you to audit their accounts.

the audit question is easy: i can't do them. the nz institute of chartered accountants is getting pretty tough on audits, and if you don't them as part of your daily work (i don't any more) and you don't hold some pretty hefty public liability insurance, then you can't do them. not even for free. if they catch you doing it, you don't get to be a chartered accountant any more. which is a pity, because i actually was a pretty good auditor & enjoyed doing it - but only if i could have junior staff member to do all the ticking and boring bits. i know that sounds pretty mean, but... well it is just mean. i don't do auditing now so i don't have to feel guilty about it.

but the being treasurer or doing accounts is more difficult to wriggle out of. mostly because i know how much charitable organisations struggle to find qualified accoutants who'll do their work for free. and i know how much they struggle for funding, so can't afford to pay for one. but there is only so much i can cope with, so i try to get out of it if i can. this week i couldn't so i've spent the evening sorting out accounting stuff rather than any of the other things i need to be doing. still, i can feel happy about supporting a very useful organisation.

the other thing with being an accountant is that we often spend a lot of time being counsellors. it's because we know almost everything about our clients' lives - to quite a level of detail. however, we are removed from their lives, so when they come to see us, they end up talking about all sorts of personal problems and seeking advice on matters that are clearly not financial.

mostly accountants take this in their stride, but i really wish they taught us about this stuff. i think a compulsory psychology paper, with a dose of "keeping yourself & your client safe" would have been quite helpful. people who work in counselling get peer review and support & all sorts of stuff to destress. i remember quite a while ago, some clients had lost a son the year before they came to see me, and ended up spending most of the time talking about the grief and how difficult they were finding it to cope with the loss. i really wished i'd had better tools and training to help them, although maybe it was enough for them to just be able to express what they were feeling.

instances like that remind me what a huge position of trust i hold when i'm dealing with someone's tax & financial affairs.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

My Dad says that he has spent a lot of time counselling clients, and he worries about it a lot. It often comes up when he is helping older couples to sort through succession plans.