Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ageism and Accountants - A Lack of Sagacity

Sage, as per the dictionary definition, means "having, showing, or indicating profound wisdom".

Hmmm, in a remarkable display of exactly the opposite, Sage (that has been "in the business of helping businesses manage their finances, people, customers and suppliers and to plan for future success since 1981") has decreed the following (as per AccountingWeb):
"The pace of change within the profession has accelerated and created an environment where ‘Generation Y’ accountants are best placed to respond to the changing role and demands, according to the latest Pulse research from Sage."
Who are "Generation Y"?

Thsoe born between 1980 and 1993.

Therefore, according to Sage, if you are an accountant and older than that you may as well give up now as your clients/employers no longer need or want you.

For why?

Seemingly clients and organisations "now expect a prompt response to their enquiries and access to information whenever they need it, with online being the most popular method for business owners wanting to share data with their accountant for the first time."

Clearly those born before 1980 are incapable of using the net, and are non responsive to client demands!

How is it I am able to run so many websites and interact in real time on Twitter etc (given that I am so very old?).

Paul Tooth, managing director at Sage Accountants Division, dug himself into a real hole by saying:
The accountancy profession is changing. Our research is a strong benchmark for the industry and it suggests it is no longer enough for accountants to be numerically proficient. In this hyper competitive environment practice professionals are offering much more to clients and fulfilling multiple roles including, virtual FD, IT consultant, HR expert, marketer and payroll specialist. "
Based on Sage's "research" please could they explain to me where they think people can find a 20 year old (born in 1993) qualified "accountant" with enough real world experience to act as virtual FD, IT consultant, HR expert, marketer and payroll specialist?

I ask, because Sage itself is currently recruiting a Commercial Finance Manager Sage CRM Fixed Term Contract.

The qualifications required include "experienced in working in a multi-national environment Qualified ACA/ACCA/CIMA with at a minimum of 5 years' experience in industry".

Know any 20 year olds with that type of experience?

Whilst I think about it, given that 1980 seems to be a significant cut off date for Sage, Sage may care to worry about its own age given that it has been around since 1981.

On that point Brendan Flattery (CEO of Sage) needs to think about his position, as he is a qualified accountant born in 1964.

Ageism in business is an absolute disgrace, the fact that a "professional" company such as Sage appears to endorse ageism makes me wonder exactly whether these companies really understand the businesses which they claim to "serve".

Thoughts and comments from those in the profession who are over 20 years old much appreciated!


  1. An excellent post Ken. It is a really strange comment given the age of decision makers in their target customers and ironic as they were slow to react to developments in Cloud computing.

    They were also quite slow to react to comments made on Twitter and when they did react they said "...there are also exciting opps for the new breed of accountants coming into the industry" and (patronisingly I think) "we’re not suggesting there’s no role for well-established accountants far from it".

    Personally I think they've made a mistake and what is perhaps even more galling than the original post, as far as I know they haven't issued an apology. I hope as many accountants as possible circulate Ken's blog via social media.