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2016 Could Be the Year of the Accountant

After watching Gwen Jorgensen’s dominating win in the women’s Olympic triathlon, I realized that 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for accountants.

Before becoming a world-class triathlete, Gwen worked as a tax accountant for EY, the global professional services firm. One of the EY partners, Mark Hellmer, helped set up a flexible work arrangement so she could work part time and train and travel for triathlon. After she qualified for the 2012 Olympics, Mark helped Gwen get a leave of absence so she could train full time for triathlon over the Wisconsin winter. She had full intentions of going back to Ernst & Young after the London Olympics; however, after the race, she decided to fully invest into triathlon instead. Apparently, that investment has paid off.

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In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, Gwen talks about what attracted her to the world of accounting.

I have always enjoyed numbers and learning about business, so in college, I took business courses (she earned a master’s degree in accounting). Something about the order of debits and credits really intrigued me. I love trying to figure out the tax puzzle. I find it challenging and satisfying.

I also was attracted to corporate taxation because I enjoyed searching for answers in the tax Code. Researching and finding solutions for clients is fun. And tax people are just awesome.

It sounds strange, but the solitude of preparing and checking returns gave me pleasure. I found it soothing and rewarding.”

As great as Gwen’s story is, and how wonderful it is to read about the support that EY gave her (and continues to give to women athletes – read more about the firm’s Women Athletes Business Network (WABN)), Gwen was not the first accountant to make a big splash this year.

Kevin Hart played Calvin Joyner, a tax accountant, in the hit movie Central Intelligence. Here’s the description of the movie from IMDB:

After he reconnects with an awkward pal from high school through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant is lured into the world of international espionage.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it is entertaining, and at one point there’s mention of the need for super-sweet accounting skills (there’s also lots of exciting talk about spreadsheets). And by the way, his awkward pal from high school is one of my favorite actors – Dwayne Johnson, The Rock. (The Rock also reveals in the movie the secret to what it took to look like he does.)

But the highlight of the year for accountants will come this fall with the release of a movie titled, The Accountant.

Here’s the story line from the movie’s web site:

Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.

I am guessing after this movie is released we will see a huge surge in students wanting to major in accounting, which hopefully will keep me employed for a few more years. There could also be a surge in demand for pocket protectors.

By the way, this movie was also the basis for my most recent April Fools’ Day prank, which to my delight, actually fooled some people.

So 2016 looks like it could be the year that the world finally realizes that accountants can kick butts and do your taxes at the same time.

 

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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