The 20 Most Overrated Things in Accounting

You may have noticed several lists floating around your corner of the Internets these days; 33 Top People Under 33, 1000 Most Influential People in Expat Tax, 15 Failed CPA Exam Candidates Who Will Change the World. You get it.

Well as great as those lists are for stroking egos and producing blurbs for self-congratulatory press releases, we think they are kind of silly. In fact, we dare say they are overrated.

You know what else is overrated? A lot of things! So many that we felt compelled to come up with a list of them. We humbly present to you, dear jaded Going Concern reader, the 20 Most Overrated Things in Accounting.


Water vapor was into the cloud before it was cool

The cloud — Don't get us wrong, the cloud is awesome. The cloud does amazing things. The cloud allows us to work anywhere, at any time, in any manner of disrepair such as hungover or wearing only a ratty t-shirt. But for the love of Google, stop talking about it! If I have to hear one more technologist-cum-salesperson talking up the virtues of the cloud, I'm going to punch someone right in their gigabytes.

Excel — David Ringstrom is probably going to crap his spreadsheet over this but we're just going to come out and say it: Excel is overrated (also, not perfect). Some of you would rather be hit by a car than give up your precious spreadsheets. Sure, Excel is great, but it's really not that great. We dare say there are superior alternatives to a massive spreadsheet these days that make things easier, more organized, even prettier. *cue group gasp*

PwC — Bragging that you are the most prestigious of the Big 4 is like Cheyenne bragging they are the biggest city in Wyoming (no offense to Wyomingites). The only people who care how prestigious PwC is are people at PwC.

Auditing — When it comes to necessary evils, auditing is right up there with flossing, getting your oil changed, and clipping your toenails. Sure, you know you have to do it, but there are a lot of things you'd rather be doing. Clients hate you, the PCAOB hates you, and you probably hate yourself. And then, when all is said and done, the best you can provide is reasonable assurance.


"Smithers, fetch me the CGMAs."

Barry Melancon — The last time this guy was relevant was back when we were scrambling to make sure our computer systems were Y2K compliant. New blood, please, it's needed.

Billable hour — The billable hour is easily the most overrated thing not just in accounting but business in general. How will you know how much to bill the client if you don't watch the clock? Here's a revolutionary idea: toss the time sheets and bill by project. The Gregorian calendar was introduced way back in 1582, surely we have developed a more sophisticated measure of value than the Earth's rotation on its axis since then.

Greg Kyte — This guy. Sure he's funny but like the fine folks of Cheyenne and PwC, being the funniest CPA is like being the skinniest kid at fat camp.

Big 4 — Students, read carefully: if you do not get a Big 4 offer, your life is not over. You are not doomed to a life of A/P clerking out of a dumpster behind the Quik Trip. Sure, it's a nice resume item but there are plenty of successful people who NEVER worked at Big 4 and went on to live exciting, fulfilling lives.

Hoteling — Hoteling is only overrated to the cheap asses who decide it's an excellent idea to cram as many people into as small a place as possible for the sake of saving a few bucks. For everyone else, it's a ridiculous trend that needs to stop immediately.

Tom Hood — Bro, seriously, knock it off. You're making everyone else look bad. As we all know, accounting is not an industry known for its innovators, making Tom's commitment to leading the pack that much more obvious. Plus the guy is a freaking machine. Take a day off, Tom.

Compensation — What good is a six figure salary if you don't actually get to enjoy it? Compensation is just a small part of your overall career picture, and you people are OBSESSED. Newsflash: you can't take it with you.


The P doesn't actually stand for principles.

GAAP — We're not saying IFRS is any better but GAAP is so not all that, people. If it was that great, everyone would be using it.

Partners — I can't even.

Tax breaks — From Capitol Hill to your yearly tax return, tax breaks are a pretty big deal. But really, that mortgage interest deduction is going to screw you into buying a house you can't afford just for the promise of a deduction. But… BUT… tax breaks! Who cares!

Lois Lerner's emails — The only reason we want Lois Lerner's emails to be recovered is so everyone will shut the fuck up about them.

The snack drawer — You people and your free food. For some reason, free food tastes better, even if it's complete garbage. That York peppermint patty that's been sitting in the drawer since last year's busy season isn't even good. But it's free and you're starving.


"We can't wait for our first day at McGladrey!"

Blue shirts — Yes, we have to break it to you, your wardrobe staple is completely overrated. Half the time, it doesn't even look good and no one can tell if you are wearing the same blue shirt you wore yesterday or if you have an entire closet full of the same exact shirt.

Clients — The worst. Sure they pay your invoices and basically keep you in blue shirts but ugh.

Your CPA exam struggle — We know you feel like you are the only person who has ever struggled through the CPA exam but you have to remember the CPA exam has been around since the late 1800s and it has been a pain in the ass from the very first CPA exam that was ever taken. Your personal struggle with the exam is completely overrated, not to mention overblown. Like giving birth, you will forget how horrible it was in the moment after a few years, trust us.

Going Concern — Don't get me started. I'm sick of the accolades, the throngs of screaming fans, even the dedicated trolls who make it their life's work to belittle mine are tiresome. As Lewis Hyde wrote, “Irony has only emergency use. Carried over time it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy their cage.”

Did we miss something? Too bad. Us asking for you to leave your opinion in the comments is overrated, too.

Related articles