by Chris Cowland –
Not my usual fun-filled missive; I’m feeling a bit contemplative as I write this tonight.
The positive: I’m one step closer to that beach in Mexico. For those who missed last month’s Seaside Magazine, I have merged my accounting practice with Baker Tilly Victoria, and although I will continue to work full time through the next two tax seasons, the 10 months in between will become more part time.
Looking back at my 44 years as an accountant, I must admit that the last 10 years have been the most rewarding, but also the most frustrating. Many of my clients have become good personal friends over the years, and over this last week I received so many expressions of thanks and well wishes that I was frequently moved to tears.
Frustrations. Like so many business owners in Sidney, I have found it increasingly difficult to attract new staff despite widespread advertising and word of mouth enquires. Being short staffed has put a huge strain on my employees, and I regret that wholeheartedly.
Thankfully my new firm has been able to parachute in a whole team of experienced individuals, so that particular headache is now gone.
Normally I would be punctuating my article with a funny story about now, but I have encountered only two accountant jokes in my lifetime. The first is that old chestnut about the accountant who was asked what two and two added up to, and he replied: “What would you like it to equal?” The second joke involves a sex-crazed camel, and I could not possibly repeat it in this magazine.
Looking back, it would be interesting to calculate the amount of taxes I have saved my clients over the years, and I have even been successful in Tax Court on three occasions. My 15 minutes of fame came about four years ago when CRA had to extend the tax filing deadline for all Canadians, based on a complaint I lodged with Elizabeth May.
I have never been afraid to stand up to the most powerful government organization in Canada when I thought they were in error, and that will never change.
Most stages of life revolve around family. Marriage, then the birth of your first child are perhaps the most significant, followed by your children getting married and producing grandchildren – those are your most important milestones.
So what are the significant stages of your working life? Obtaining professional qualifications, getting promoted, starting your own business? Much harder to quantify. Many books have been written about how to succeed in business, but the business models of yesterday are burnt-out wrecks at the side of the road. The outbreak of COVID-19 brings the world economy to its knees in 90 days. I don’t recall reading about that in the textbooks.
Looking back on my career, and looking forward to the upcoming years as I gradually step off the treadmill, all I can say is that two plus two really can equal five, with a little luck.
But if my RRSP continues its downward spiral and two plus two equals one, that Mexican beach might remain a dream … .