Chris Hooper is a self-labelled Accounting Futurist, and his mission in life is to change the accounting game forever - and is walking the talk. He believes that the traditional definition of an accountant is fated to evolve, and that progressive change within the profession is not only necessary but inevitable.
We interviewed Chris who is the founder and CEO of Accodex, an innovative accounting firm providing compliance, administration and advisory services to startups and tech-enabled businesses, growing fast and making a dent in the market. Just cracking 30 years of age, he has become a key figure in the accounting industry, and firmly believes accountants have the ability to change the world – they just haven’t realised it yet!
Talking with Chris was fascinating and his passion is contagious. No matter what your view of the accounting profession is in the future, Chris made some impactful points;
This may sound like a generic comment, but it’s the plain and simple truth. Accounting is the language of business, and yet so many accountants don't put the power of this in their hands. In the future, he highlighted that learning this language will become more important for the future generation to pick up early to move towards value-creating services within practice or commerce.
Older accountants may have more experience, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into being better accountants. Chris shared his personal experience with his clients - "Speak to young entrepreneurs and ask them what they hate most about their accountants. You’ll find there is a huge group of business people who are being under-serviced by the accounting profession." The Millennial entrepreneur just isn’t compatible with traditional, Accounting 101 practices and wants a business partner.
It’s true – accounting is one of the most influential professions in the world. Think about the chair you’re sitting in, and about how many accountants have been involved in its manufacture. The company that produced the wood or steel for that frame had accountants, as did the upholstery company, the office furniture wholesaler, the retailer who finally sold you the chair… Upwards of 20 accountants have featured along the value chain of that chair.
Now think about your office, and the offices outside your window. How many accountants were involved in their construction? Accounting is everywhere. This is a huge profession, with global influence and reach. We should be getting really excited about that!
Ask a guitarist why he chose that profession and he’ll give you a long and heartfelt response, telling you about people who inspired them, the music he listened to growing up, the hours of practice until he’d mastered the chords of his favourite songs….you just don’t get that in accounting. Ask an accountant why he chose the profession, and he’ll usually tell you his parents forced him into it, or that it’s a good, stable and respectable job. And he will definitely not be able to tell you the name of a single accountant who inspires him.
Where’s the passion? Where are the guitarists in the accounting profession? We need to put a purpose into accounting and inject some passion into the profession.
Accounting, traditionally, is a controlled environment. We set up and follow processes. We often have to stop innovation for financial reasons. This has to change. But innovation isn’t something you can structure or contain. You can let yourself become more receptive to it though. Sometimes change for the sake of change, while not necessarily having a purpose at the time, keeps you on your toes and acclimatises you so you’re more receptive to innovation. Change everyone’s desk around in the office so that everyone is sitting next to someone new. It serves no tangible purpose, but it gets you used to change.
Work for a company with a mission you believe in. When you get a whole bunch of people like that in one company, amazing stuff happens. If you start to become disillusioned with, or jaded about, being an accountant, take a look at the other paths within the profession you might prefer to be on. Public or Corporate? Small firm, large firm, or do you start your own firm? Could you specialise in a particular area – forensic accounting, for example?
Accountants bring more to the table than any other business degree holders in that they work with hundreds of different businesses and have so much more knowledge about these businesses than they probably realise.
Find your purpose. Make accounting something that you’re good at, you enjoy, you make good money from, and which fulfils a higher purpose within the order of the universe. These four things are the common denominator amongst all motivated people. If you’re enthusiastic and passionate about making the accounting profession better, that’s what will get you out of bed in the morning.
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