High Pressure Situations (CPA Oath)

In this video we cover one of the most important skills in accounting… dealing with high pressure situations. Watch now!

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Last week I made a video on Likeability at work. One of the things I mentioned was that, even though you want everyone to like you, you do not want to be a pushover. I feel like this idea deserved a little more discussion. So we are going to talk about it in this video. I am going to focus this video on accountants. In my opinion, this is the most important skill in Accounting: Dealing with Pressure at Work.

In business, you are usually working with a team of people. Just like any group of people, sometimes there will be disagreements. You are going to want to be likeable, but you are also going to want to communicate what is important to you. This means at some point you are going to need to have a difficult conversation, where you tell someone “no.” How you handle these difficult conversations is very important to how successful you become in business.

I want to spend some time talking about Accountants specifically. Accountants are in a unique situation because they serve the interests of two separate stakeholders: the organization and the public. CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant. That means you have been given a license to protect the financial interests of the public. When you sign your name to something as a CPA, it means something. It means that financial document is accurate and ethical.

When you get your CPA license, they will have you take an oath that you will follow the laws and regulations of the state and the nation. I have my CPA license in the State of New Mexico. When I took my oath, they gave me this book that contains all the laws and regulations pertaining to Public Accountancy. I love this book. It talks about compliance, professional conduct, continuing education, etc. So as a CPA, you have taken an oath to the public that you will be a good accountant.

So you might ask, what is the issue? The problem is no one else in your company has taken your oath. They do not care about your oath. They have a different interest than you, which is company performance. That is the way it should be. However, the difference does create pressure.

I will give you an example. As an accountant, you are responsible for putting internal controls in place to ensure your financial statements are reliable. So for instance, when someone purchases something, they need to follow a set process every time they buy something. A lot of times, this process slows things down. At the same time, you are going to have other managers that want to speed things up. This difference in motivation is going to create pressure. This pressure will result in a difficult conversation where you are going to have to tell somebody “no.”

I have worked in many different companies and this is a common challenge for accountants. It happens in every company. People will put pressure on you to bend the rules to make things run faster. This pressure could come from your staff who does not want to follow the process. It could come from other managers who think you are wasting the budget. And it could come from your boss.

Dealing with pressure is the most important skill in accounting. You are there to educate and inspire your co-workers to make smart financial decisions. That is why you were hired in the first place. Your organization is depending on you to stand your ground, because you know what the rules are, and it is your job to communicate that effectively.

The reason I am talking about this, is you need to think through this BEFORE you get into a high pressure situation. You need to have a crystal clear understanding of what your ethical line is that you will not cross. You need to be so clear about your ethical boundaries that you will stand by them, even if it will cost you your job. If you cannot handle that pressure, do not become an accountant. If you find yourself in that situation, think about the big picture. In the course of your career, jobs will come and go, but your reputation will be with you for the rest of your life.

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Neither Zach De Gregorio or Wolves and Finance Inc. shall be liable for any damages related to information in this video. It is recommended you contact a CPA in your area for business advice.

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