May 1999 Issue


In the March 1999 CPA Journal News & Views, you published a commentary by Martin S. Harris, CPA, "Random Thoughts from a Contrarian." I found Mr. Harris' thoughts to be neither random nor contrary. Rather, he presented a clear and directed commentary on the continuing process of deprofessionalization being inflicted on itself by the profession of public accountancy.

I, too, am retired from active practice after forty years' participation. From my earliest years I was aware of greater financial rewards available to sales-oriented performers. Curiously, however, greater personal status was accorded to the professional person. I, as well as, apparently, Mr. Harris, chose the latter. I have never regretted the choice. The profession at large, on the other hand, seems to be opting for conversion to the field of selling product lines including insurance, investment vehicles, and computer systems, while using its "professional" title as a veneer of enhanced expertise. I believe that the disrespect for professional accountants cited by Mr. Harris (green eyeshades and high stools) is nothing compared to the disrespect that will be accorded to Willy Loman, CPA.

In the same issue, you have a lengthy article on the subject of independence as essential to the attest function. Years ago, I was taught that independence is a state of mind that transcends trappings and technicalities and is entirely dependent on the professional's self-esteem. I was also taught, however, that trappings and technicalities were essential factors in the perception of independence and were thus essential to the public respect for the profession. I would submit that adoption of the role of salesman will be destructive to both the self-image and public image of the CPA. To those practitioners who would seek the greener financial pastures of the salesman, I would say, "Go in peace ... but go, and leave the accountancy profession to those who choose to practice it as true professionals, untainted by either actuality or perception." *

David D. Freeman, CPA

Freeport, N.Y.

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