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How Thrilling Is My Accountant?

BIZ SPOTLIGHT – Tax PlanningBIZ SPOTLIGHT – Tax Planning

Question: “Why do accountants make good lovers?”

Answer: “Because they are good with figures.”

Have you ever seen a Hollywood action-adventure movie starring an accountant? When you think of an accountant, do Cary Grant, George Clooney or Brad Pitt come to mind, or do you picture a bespectacled man with his nose buried in paperwork?

Accountants say they’ve gotten a bad rap about their image, especially when it comes to how they are depicted in Hollywood films.

For instance, how true-to-life is actor Rick Moranis’ depiction of a nerdy, fashion-challenged accountant in the 1984 comedy “Ghostbusters?” If this is an accurate depiction, does it mean that all accountants wear glasses with thick black frames, and need a fashion makeover and a personality transplant?

Hardly, say industry observers.

“It’s a bit of an overgeneralization,” says Brad Shalit, a senior associate in the Taxation & Estate Planning Group at Roseland-based Connell Foley. “Certainly I’ve met socially challenged accountants, and I also know some accountants who are very personable and outgoing. Some are technicians and some are people persons. But I think that you find that in any walk of life.”

One public accounting firm, dubbed “The Accounting Dept.,” based in Blacklick, Ohio, has actually parlayed that stereotypical image into an effective advertising campaign.

The home page on the firm’s Web site, www.accdep.com, reads: “You know that old stereotype about accountants … We’re all dull, hard working, dependable, boring, nose-to-the-grindstone … Well, It’s true … Isn’t that why you hire us in the first place?”

Ironically, the accounting profession’s image got a bit sexier after the collapse of major accounting firm Arthur Andersen, the Enron corruption scandal and the consequent creation of Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002.

“With all the scandals and all the money that’s changing hands, the profession has started to look sexy, dangerous and challenging,” says Eva Rosenberg, publisher of accounting Web site

TaxMama.com and author of “Small Business Taxes Made Easy.” “Accountant aren’t just boring geeks anymore. We’re hot.”

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants has taken steps to promote a Web site, www.extreme-accounting.com, that provides space for accountants and auditors to post online pictures of them conducting their jobs in exotic and dramatic settings.

When it comes to trying to break the stereotype, accountants are certainly working very hard.

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