Apart from having a reputation as being grey, humourless men with bad breath and worse suits (unjustified, I’m sure – some of them are women), they also suffer because just about every unpopular decision in business is taken by the “bean counters“.
Oh aye. We’ve all sat in the office cursing the folly of the top floor accountants and their cost saving decisions, usually made with a complete detachment from reality and common sense and no understanding of the practical demands of business.
Certainly, during my time in newspapers there was a sense of deepening despair that, after decades of being run by journalists, newspapers had fallen into the hands of the dreaded number crunchers and things would never be the same again.
In fairness I suspect that’s less to do with the direct influence of the accountants and more to do with the fact that papers were dragged kicking and screaming out of an age of gentlemanly excess – and into the cut-throat, free-market Thatcherite 80s. Fom that point the rise of satellite and digital TV, improvements in radio and the arrival of the monster that is the internet have all further conspired to change the media for ever in a relatively short period.
But as often as not it’s the hapless, socially inept and dandruff-bespeckled accountants who get the blame. So it is surprising (refreshing even) to hear that nobody is immune from the cuts, the financial trimming and the efficiencies.
Cue a call this week to Deadline Press and Picture Agency from the editorial staff at the rather splendid website, Director of Finance Online. It does exactly what it says on the tin – providing online reports on a wide range of subjects of interest to the head honchos of the accountancy world – Directors of Finance.
As you’d expect of a site catering for the movers and shakers of the money counting scene, the site is extremely slick, well put together and atractively presented. So Deadline was flattered when a request came for an article by court reporting staff about crooked HM Revenue and Customs worker, Craig Gordon (pictured).
With only the minimum of negotiation, the website agreed to pay a modest fee for the story. Kerching! A pleasure doing business with people who know the value of everything.
Except, not 20 minutes later this rather contrite email dropped from the editor:
I’m sorry but our finance department has amazingly turned down our request to pay for the article. Stupid but it’s the end of the finance year etc. Our apologies for wasting your time.
Which just goes to show that nobody is immune from the scourge of the bean counters (though in fairness, you’d have thought if anyone was going to be painfully aware of the financial year end, it would be the staff on Director of Finance Online!)