No. 19 – Six Years in My Glasgow Office.

Simultaneously with my academic studies, which were the subject of my last two blog posts I worked either in my employer’s Glasgow office or at the premises of our clients So, apart from the double workload, the hardest thing about my life was the fact I was almost perpetually in my “Get People to Know, Like and Trust Me” mode.

It wasn’t too bad in the office itself, as there weren’t all that many fellow employees, and it wasn’t too long before I had worked with all of them. The fact that I struggled to carry the heavy comptometers and light cups of coffee soon became common knowledge and everybody was very understanding. However, new people joined us every year, and so, as I slowly moved from being a subordinate to being a more senior member of the staff, that proved to require subtly different approaches. In addition, during my time with the firm, it took part in two amalgamations. Firstly, during my third year, we amalgamated with another small firm, that had offices below ours, which increased the number of partners from 4 to 9 and more than doubled the size of the staff. Then, during my sixth and final year, the combined firm was “taken over” by a well-known “International” firm of Chartered Accountants, to become the Glasgow offices of that firm. So, as is written in my C.V., my experience grew in synchronization with the size of my employers.

During my third year of employment, including my 9 months full-time at Glasgow University, I was asked to compere the office Christmas party, and that proved to be very successful, which increased my self-confidence immensely.

But the more difficult task, was the number of clients’ employees I had to get to know and be accepted by. Nobody likes to have their work checked by any stranger, never mind a stranger who has an obvious physical disability, a strained speaking voice, and shaky hands. It was challenging when I had to ask to count their petty cash, which was frequently met with nervousness. However, I managed somehow and it was always a nice feeling when certain clients requested that I return the year after I had first visited them.

The work proved to be very varied. From being the junior member of a two-person auditing team, as I described in a previous blog post, to advancing to being the senior member of an auditing team, interspersed with producing accounts for small traders whose records amounted to no more than a shoe box full of receipts and a bundle of bank statements. The variety of industries I had to gain experience in to fully understand all of the clients’ businesses that I was auditing and/or producing accounts for was immense. I also had to gain knowledge of much larger organizations like local authorities and public utilities.

During my six years working in Glasgow, I witnessed the slow emergence of mechanization into accounting. The larger organizations, such as the local authorities and public utilities I have talked about had large rooms filled with computers but the only difference that made to us was that instead of putting upside down green ticks on hand-written ledgers and cashbooks, we were putting upside down green ticks on 15 inch wide computer printouts which came in plastic folders.

After I returned from my nine months at university, the office had acquired some fairly small, pull-the-handle-adding machines. They didn’t replace the comptometers that were used by specialist operators during audits, but helped us when we were producing accounts from “shoe boxes”. Then either late in my third year or early in my fourth, a colleague who came from a very well-off family showed off the first calculator I had ever seen. It could only add, subtract, multiply, and divide, but it cost roughly what I earned in 6 months. A few years later you could almost get an equivalent calculator free in a box of cornflakes.

Around the beginning of my fourth year, I slowly began to realize something that my colleagues probably realized long before I did, that my physical difficulties were actually not the great drawbacks that I had always believed them to be, but, in many ways, they were a positive for me. I slowly realized that the fact that I could succeed at such a varied and sometimes difficult job, was recognized and admired by co-workers and clients alike and that my way of communicating with others, despite my disability, actually was an inspiration to others, which helped them to relax in my presence.

When this fact was realized by the partners and those with more seniority than me in the office, I was often asked to be a regular “forerunner” who would go to clients, on my own, to “flowchart” their procedures, before an actual audit team arrived.

“Flowcharting was the depiction of the movement of documents and information in a business using lines, dotted lines, and various shapes that were drawn on paper. I had a special plastic template that had holes of various shapes which represented things like documents, processes, and files. This meant that I had to discuss all aspects of their jobs with everybody in the accounting department of a client, from the most junior clerk to, sometimes, the Finance Director. I had to alter my interrogation technique as appropriate, as I spoke with each level of staff member.

I would then produce a series of diagrams representing the workings of a client’s accounting department, on which the manager in charge of the audit would prepare what was known as an “audit program” which was based on investigating whether the “internal controls” which my flowcharts had highlighted, were working or not. Or, if my flowcharts indicated that no “internal controls” existed where they should have, this would prompt the audit manager to write a program directing his team to concentrate more of their efforts on these areas.

I truly enjoyed this aspect of my job, as it took me away from actually doing the auditing, whether it was the actual ticking, or the preparation of the audit programs, which I wasn’t very good at, as my poor auditing exam results demonstrated as indicated in the last blog post.

So, budding Internet Marketers, what can you learn from my slow progress up the “ladder” of my experience working for a Glaswegian firm? Well, there are many similarities.

  • When I first started on my “journey” I naively thought that I only had one thing to learn, “accounting”. I quickly realized that “accounting” was a collective term for a myriad of subjects and skills. Similarly, most people who decide to “give Internet or Affiliate Marketing a go”, quickly realize that there are a myriad of skills that need to be acquired before anybody can become a successful Internet or Affiliate Marketer.

  • Whether you are attempting to become a qualified accountant, (or any other career), you have to be dedicated, as you have to be to become a successful Internet Marketer. I worked the equivalent of two jobs, office, and study, for 6 years before I qualified. Then, finally, I could stop, or at least reduce, the study part, although I had to keep up with new developments. I would hazard a guess that 6 years is the average time frame that newbie Internet Marketers need to work two jobs before their Internet Marketing Income becomes sufficiently high and regular that they could stop their “day job” and rely 100% on their Internet income to sustain them and their dependents.

  • Just like in the business world, the I.T. world is constantly evolving. During my 6 years in the Glasgow office, Pounds, Shillings, and Pence were replaced by decimal currency. V.A.T. (Sales tax in the US, G.S.T. in Australia) was introduced into the U.K. Tax rules kept changing. During a period of high inflation, accounting for inflation rules were introduced, and then dropped. Mechanical devices started to be introduced, that preceded modern computers (much more about them in future episodes). And that was only in 6 years. Successful accountants had to deal with all of these changes, just as successful Internet Marketers have to deal with changing algorithms, evolving platforms, the increasing cost of advertising, and so the list goes on and on and on.

  • Finally, I have to mention the latest development that will have to be encompassed by both Accountants and Internet Marketers. That is Artificial Intelligence. At the time of writing this blog (late 2023) I don’t know much about it, but I know that it is high on my mentor’s list of things he has to understand to stay ahead of the pack, and I, as one of his Certified Partners, will be one of the first to benefit in the future as Artificial Intelligence develops in the months and years to come.

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