Public Accounting Today
by IRWIN C. RUST Partner, Executive Office
Presented before the Haskins & Sells Foundation Scholarship
Awards Banquet, University of Missouri—December 1969
THERE is a Chinese curse that goes, "May you live in interesting
times." All of us in this room have been so cursed. Surely an era in which man travels to the moon and back, conducts warfare and business by the use of electronic marvels called computers, protests en masse against and for basic social and political questions and has access to movies such as I Am Curious (Yellow) and books such as Portnoy's Complaint must be defined as interesting times. The public accounting profession, long considered to be the home of the stodgiest white men, whose circulatory systems were filled with ice water rather than blood, finds itself caught up in the dramatic dynamism of these interesting times.
EXCITEMENT AND CHALLENGE
A few years ago, from one of the State CPA Societies of which I am a member, I received a questionnaire asking the question, "Would you encourage a young person to enter the profession of accounting?" With customary courage, especially since I was not required to sign the questionnaire, I replied, "No." At that time, the most exciting thing we were doing, it seemed to me, was arguing with heat and prolixity the burning question of whether we should use the term "earned surplus" or "earnings retained for use in the business." We certainly have left that stage, and I can urge bright young men and women of whatever color to look at the profession as offering almost unlimited possibilities for intellectual stimulation, competitive challenge, and financial reward. Ridiculous as it may seem to most outsiders, I find each day in the profession exciting and most days rewarding. There is so much going on that the stodgy either have been left behind or have been modernized.
We are being attacked frequently by the news media, by clients, and by investors. In fact, a public accounting firm that is not being sued nowadays is just not with it. Unfavorable publicity and high-cost