Bean Counters Unite

Bean Counters…

What a name for such an august group of “paper pushers”. . .not “bean” pushers.  When confusion with the English language clouds my gray matter, I always find clarity in the pages of Wikipedia:

 1. bean counter (noun) – an accountant or bureaucrat who is believed to place undue emphasis on the control of expenditures

Perhaps we should change our name to SCACPBC, the South Carolina Association of Certified Public Bean Counters.  But wait one minute. Out of both SwaimBrown offices, not one single CPA, including myself, has ever had any billable time “counting beans.”  I have counted steel beams, textile machine parts, natural gas tanks with their contents, reams of paper to print newspapers, nuts and bolts, barrels of ink and a variety of other yearend inventory items.  I have counted the votes at a beauty pageant and it was not yearend.  I am on the tax side now and do not know if the efficient auditor still counts “petty cash,” since this is generally an immaterial item on the balance sheet.

From my reading about the future direction of our profession, my guess is that we may start counting “carbon footprints” and other components of sustainability assets.  But I really do not know if we will count “beans” in the future.  But then again, do “beans” provide a “biofuel?”

In this career, we do a “count” – thus the title “accountant.”  Perhaps prior to the day that I hang up my laptop I will have the opportunity to count “beans.”  But my war stories are of the vintage generation now.  Young accountants can just entertain some of us gray CPAs as we reflect on the “good old days” when we counted petty cash, kicked the barrels of salad oil (listening for a hollow sound) and missed many a football bowl game over the New Year holidays.
Do any of the old timers have “war stories” to share about inventory counts?  Has any CPA ever counted turkeys, widgets or other strange tangible items that are reflected on the balance sheet?  Please share!  And of course, change the name of the innocent to protect confidentiality.

Blogger: Charles ‘Eddie’ Brown, CPA


About scacpa

The South Carolina Association of CPAs is a professional organization that provides support to all CPAs – whether in public practice, industry, government or education - with lifelong learning opportunities necessary for their success, the promotion of high ethical standards and legislative advocacy for both the public good and for the profession.
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3 Responses to Bean Counters Unite

  1. Erin Hardwick says:

    For a quick read on the history of the tern “bean counters” see:

  2. I haven’t actually counted beans either, although I named my blog Beancounter Ramblings. I have counted telecommunications equipment, and yes, even petty cash. But that was more from a fraud perspective than a financial statement audit.

  3. Nathan says:

    I had my share of interesting audit experiences, but one of my favorite audit procedures was counting beer at a group of beer distributors in the Carolinas. It was like a college kid’s dream, and I was always impressed by the lack of shrinkage at the client. And it sure beat counting bricks(another fun job I had).

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