Accountants: Unexpected Heroes of the World

As the semester has gotten harder, a good number of my peers have considered if all of this work is truly worth it. Some of the people I’ve spoken to are thinking of trying to find a more rewarding profession, such as nonprofit work, or helping people in some way or another.  As much as they love accounting, sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture of why accounting is such rewarding work and how it can change people’s life. I took these sentiments personally because I feel accounting can be one of the most rewarding professions in helping others, and decided to do some research.


The first article I found was by Brenda Lee Tang of the Trinidad Express from November of last year called “Why accountants are the new heroes”.  In this article she says that accounting is “important work to be done on an ethical level.” Accountants are committed to the public good and are taught in ethical practices. We are an independent voice that stakeholders can trust. My personal favorite part of the article was the following paragraph:

“The impact of accountants’ professionalism will be most keenly felt in developing economies. Aided by their integrity and commitment to sustainability, accountants will be able to help create sustainable economic infrastructure, regulatory mechanisms, and codes of governance in places where there were none before. Most importantly of all, they will be vital to the development of the educational infrastructure that will equip the next generation of accountants.” – Brenda Lee Tang

Some people might think that accountants as “heroes” might be too strong a statement. However, I personally use Christopher Reeve’s definition of a hero:
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
I think it’s interesting that it is so hard to find articles that praise the work accountants and auditors do. Especially recently, it seems like every article about accountants is describing audit failures. There are hundreds of front page articles about alleged auditing mistakes, but none about  all the audits that are completed every year without any issues.

The Texas MPA Council helping out Bastrop fire victims- every MPA student can start trying be a hero while on campus

As I kept looking for articles describing the rewarding nature of accounting, I stumbled upon a list of articles that show the heroic actions of accountants posted by A lot of these articles talk about accountants putting their jobs and security at risk in order to protect investors. There are so many wrongful termination suits filed by accountants claiming they were fired for refusing to publish or approve fraudulent financial statements.  One article describes how an accounting professor warned investors and the SEC of suspicious activities at New Era Investment Fund, leading to the discovery of a $200 million Ponzi scheme. There are also articles of people that just happen to be accountants doing extraordinary things.  The last survivors of the 9/11 attack were pulled alive from the wreckage at Ground Zero by David Karnes, a Deloitte and Touche accountant. Going back to Christopher Reeve’s definition of being a hero, these accountant seems to have faced overwhelming obstacles and maintained their integrity despite the challenges.
Accounting is a noble position, and one that calls for a standard of ethics. There is one thing about the list of articles on this website though, that disturbs me. The most recent one is from 2002. Are there really no articles of recent accounting heroes? I’m hoping that my peers and I can take the ethical standards instilled in us during out time at Texas MPA and our desire to help people and really make a difference in the world. My hope is that we can  be “accounting heroes” and make people see how rewarding our work can be.

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