And That’s Why We Have Consultants

By Brad Thomason, CPA

 

<<Scene is a coffee shop; a chance meeting between two old classmates who took different career paths; we join them several minutes into the conversation…>>

 

EXECUTIVE:  I’ve never been able to put my finger on exactly what it is you people do.  In fact, to be honest with you, I’m a little baffled as to how your industry can even exist in the first place.

 

CONSULTANT:  OK.

 

EXECUTIVE:  Like this deal right here, for instance (shows document).  If you want to know the answer all you gotta do is add up these four numbers.

 

CONSULTANT:  I see.

 

EXECUTIVE:  Well that’s my point.  Do you honestly think that you can add four numbers together better than I can?

 

CONSULTANT:  No, I don’t.

 

EXECUTIVE: (triumphantly) Then why would a guy like me ever need to hire a guy like you?

 

CONSULTANT:  Because of the 5th number.

 

EXECUTIVE:  (bewildered)  What 5th number?

 

CONSULTANT: (suppressing a smile)  Exactly.

 

<<End Scene>>

 

The thing about accounting is that it doesn’t work unless you get everything.  So to the extent you don’t know what you don’t know, you have a risk.  Hiring a consultant is a means to mitigating that risk.

It is not necessary for the consultant to have a higher IQ than the client.  Nor does it have to be the case that the client is dumb.  Because this isn’t about intelligence.

What it is about is specialized knowledge, and familiarity, and experience, and that old-timey favorite about two heads being better than one.

Consulting, as an industry, exists because the world is a complicated place.  When faced with an important decision, it sometimes makes sense to have a person with a different perspective offer some input.  Hiring a consultant for that specific need is usually cheaper in the long-run than bringing the necessary knowledge base in house by hiring a new staffer.

Pretty simple, really.  And that’s why we have consultants.

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