Well first off it is not raw ability, the American accounts profession attract a similar level of brains to the British and that level would be more or less ‘average’ (Hong Kong seems to be the only place I have seen where the general level of accountants would be rated as quite intelligent).
Neither is it tech, or FinTech – Financial Tech as it is becoming called – there is nothing you can’t get either side of the Atlantic.
The difference is the attitude to this FinTech. Computer programmers and lots of other professions – including your GP – constantly use the Internet to search for “How do I “ and so constantly learn and share new techniques and programmes. American Accountants share a lot of this reliance and comfort using the Internet. This contrasts sharply with British accountants: I have never seen any of them, except for the most junior of British accountants, do an internet search for “How do I ?” for some aspect of their job – The attitude of senior accountants to this is “I thought he has passed his exams he should know how to …” .
If they get “caught” looking something up at work, it is treated like they are cheating in an exam, and so they flat line and learn next to nothing new for years and stay late, night after night using mistake ridden manual or near-manual techniques that are decades out of date while their Californian contemporaries are out surfing the waves in the early evening after and because they have been surfing the web during the day.
Many British accountants look at FinTech programmes like EspressoRec in the same way that a medieval pilgrim walking on their knees to a holy shrine would look at the offer of ride in a carriage. For the pilgrim – as a pilgrim – it is meant to be hard work, but if later he got a delivery job going to the same site – he would surely see it as strange not to use a carriage (Delivery Tech).
Using FinTech like EspressoRec to do Million Row Lookups in MS Excel in seconds rather than countless hours upon hours is not ‘cheating’ – it is how to get the job done in the modern, most efficient manner. Million Row Reconciliations, again in seconds, is simply how it should be done, cleaning audit transaction files in minutes and… EspressoRec is a general high powered low cost utility toolkit for Accountants with lots of features so I won’t list them all here (www.EspressoRec.co.uk).
But EspressoRec not the only FinTech out there, there are other programmes as well. Too many conversations between British accountants are about their most recent “heavy session” – “Didn’t get home till 1am in the morning!” – or even the gold medal… “the all nighter”. To my ears, they sound more like returning medieval pilgrims showing each other their sores and blisters, than modern professionals.
If I say to them “use FinTech” they look at me like I am asking them to cheat so I say “Ok Cheat! use FinTech, everyone else in the world is cheating join in !”
If you are worried about doing too much too quickly and putting your job at risk , your job is a bigger risk at getting outsourced if you don’t: If you take a week at British rates of pay to clean an Audit transaction file before you can start the Audit, there is a large gain to be had to outsource this task abroad. If you use say EspressoRec and do it in 30 minutes then the motivation to outsource is not there.