An Accountant’s story

The two unsung heroes of modern society have to be Hans Christian Anderson and Franz Kafka. Anderson, for his naked Emperor, surely a parody on the pieces of paper we work so hard for and which are printed at the whim of any government, and Kafka, for the cobweb of impenetrable laws which do so much to sustain our ever increasing army of lawyers. Another public enquiry? Yes, that will be another £10 million for the starving lawyers. Not enough money, no problem, print some more.

An accountant’s story:- Why go looking for trouble.

“I can’t say that accountancy has made a difference to my life apart from the fact that it’s provided me with a living.  Occasionally though it has give me an insight into human nature and nothing gave me more from insight than the trip I took some years ago to a small/medium-sized former Soviet Union town the name of which I will omit. I had been commissioned go and look at a business which distributed petroleum products throughout the city and the surrounding area with a view to its purchase by a UK-based investment fund. At that time Russia seemed to be a place of great opportunity, a chance to make some really serious money so it was with an element of excitement that I went”. “On paper the prospects were very good. The price appeared on the low side and yet I was assured that the company was pretty substantial, owning quite a lot of real estate throughout the area. The real estate took the form of petrol filling stations, a lot of filling stations. In fact, so many filling stations that they were clearly over supplied with filling stations and under supplied with customers, a state of affairs which I could not see changing over the foreseeable future.  Over a breakfast coffee one morning I discussed situation with the boss of the company who had come to pick me up and take me to the offices”. “From my hotel window I could look across to the main street and clearly visible were two filling stations, one on each side of the road. “Tell me”, I asked “why you had two service station when clearly one alone was sufficient for the available business”.  Pondering the question he finally answered. “No” he said, “we couldn’t possibly do that. If we gave up selling petrol, we would have to give the property back to the government.” The purchase of the company did not happen.

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