S t . LOUIS
HASKINS & S E L LS
C E R T I F I E D P U B L I C A C C O U N T A N T S
BULLETIN SAN FRANCISCO
V O L . II NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 15, 1919 No. 2
Sensing the Needs of the Client
T H E accountant who enters most com-pletely
into the fulfilment of his professional
obligations to the client must be
able to put himself in the place of the client.
He must see the situation through the eyes
of the client. He must know what the
client needs in the way of information.
Imagination is a valuable attribute. It
will carry a man a long way on his journey
toward success. It will not take the place
of knowledge. It is not a substitute for experience.
It does, however, combine well
with knowledge and experience in forming
that rare quality, namely, the ability to put
oneself in the place of the client.
A financial report on which the client
depends for the purpose of selling property
falls short of its proper attainment if it
fails to answer the questions which any
prospective purchaser may ask.
An audit report to-day which does not
contain, except in the matter of invested
capital, the data necessary to the preparation
of tax returns is incomplete and unsatisfactory.
A statement of income and profit and
loss for a manufacturing concern which
does not set out the composition of the
manufacturing costs misses the point entirely.
A balance sheet for credit purposes
which ignores the proper grouping and
order of the liquid assets and the current
obligations is of no use for the purpose in
When the client wants a statement with
the accounts receivable item supported by
a schedule showing the customers' balances
in detail, he is apt not to be satisfied if, in
lieu thereof, he is shown the depreciation
of the property items.
The client who desires information with
regard to the correctness of his accounting
records is likely to regard as presumptuous
criticism of his accounting system or personnel.
It is the duty of the accountant to acquaint
himself with the purpose for which
the report is desired. In the execution of
the work incident to the carrying out of
the engagement and the writing of the report,
he should bring to bear his knowledge,
experience, and ability in putting into
the hands of the client precisely that information
for which the client has need.
The accountant who is in demand today
is the accountant who is able to sense such
need. The accountant who leaves the finishing
of the engagement to the client fails
in his most important function.