The Role of Professional Accountants
Barry Salzberg, Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte LLP, spoke to accountancy students Feb. 12, 2009 on the importance of having sound judgment and clear decision making in their future profession. His presentation, "Tomorrow's Judgments" gave students an explanation of why their judgment is so important, citing the recent problems in the financial industry as history, and gave them tips about how to succeed and make the best, most informed decisions possible.
Salzberg started his speech by commenting not only on the caliber of the University, but also of the students in attendance.
"This institution is truly cutting edge," Salzberg said. "You got the stuff, not just the GPA, but the DNA."
DNA however, is not enough to make important, correct decisions when necessary. Salzberg went on to explain that to judgment is a process used to reach a well reasoned conclusion and pointed to several important trends that are increasing the importance of the decisions today's students will face tomorrow.
These trends included new global standards of financial reporting, the expectations of the digital age, a new generation of knowledge consumers and the global economic downturn.
Salzberg described the current economic situation as one in which everyone is looking around and thinking "never again." He cited this as an example of professionals making poor decisions and putting aside common sense to follow the herd.
"We will all have a role to play in rebuilding the capital markets," he said.
However, Salzberg offered a more optimistic perspective on the worldwide economic downturn than is often perpetuated in the news media today.
"My attitude is anything but gloom and doom," Salzberg said. "As hard as times seem when they're happening – they end. But to fix this problem we need to understand it."
Salzberg also spoke about the idea of a single set of worldwide accounting standards that may become a reality and even a necessity in the near future, due to the changing and growing global economy.
To wrap up his speech Salzberg offered students four important tips to better their judgment and make the right decisions in a difficult economic climate.
"Commit to the highest values of your profession," was the first tip Salzberg outlined. He stressed patience and discipline as two important characteristics students should try to embody.
The second piece of advice Salzberg offered the students in attendance was to think like a historian on a certain issue and to really try to specialize to make themselves and their decisions stand out from the crowd.
Communication was the third important top Salzberg offered accountancy students.
"Learn and focus on how you communicate," Salzberg said. "Your future is not all about numbers."
Finding a workplace mentor was the last piece of advice Salzberg had for the crowd before opening up his session to a lively series of questions and answers.
"We are all at the frontier of a new era in our profession, "Salzberg said. "It will be an adventure and a grand journey."