Let’s get fiscal

You can’t take age into account – not even in accounting, says Nury Vittachi
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You have all the time in the world

Hong Kong’s humorist on why you are never too old, or too young, to follow your dreams – and become an accountant

By Nury Vittachi

Your columnist managed to sail through dismal school grades by claiming to be “a late developer.” I have now used the same excuse for several decades and it is starting to sound weak – especially since my children use it too.

“Sorry about the bad grades again, but I’m a late developer like Dad,” they say, pointing their heads at me.

“My day will come,” I respond, nodding. “No point rushing things.”

The reason for bringing this up is that a reader sent me a report about a boy in the United Kingdom aged 15 described as “the country’s youngest accountant.”

Ranveer Singh Sandhu is “a teenager who started his own accounting business when he was only 12,” according to a local London newspaper called The Croydon Advertiser.

I read the article carefully to see what accounting qualifications young Ranveer has, but the answer seemed to be none. His parents call him an accountant because he set up Excel-style software to write down his income and that of his friends.

Pah! “That doesn’t count,” I replied to the reader. I could do that.

But I remember there was a whole spate of “youngest accountant ever” stories in the press in 2015, and those guys did have actual accounting qualifications.

A boy called Ramkumar Raman from India completed a proper accounting exam aged 18, and a girl named Aqsa Majeed Memon from Pakistan, also 18, was described in the press as the “youngest Chartered Accountant in the world.”

Most of that type of story concerns Asians (not surprisingly, as we have tiger moms), but the same year there was a similar tale from the United States.

“His parents call him an accountant because he set up Excel-style software to write down his income and that of his friends.”

Belicia Cespedes passed all four sections of the CPA exam in California at the age of 17. The articles about her said that she became an active, voting member of the American Institute of CPAs, which must have been interesting. “I’d like to move a motion that we do all meetings by Snapchat and feature Justin Bieber as keynote speaker at the annual conference.”

Of course there are other people, like Mozart, who did incredible things at an extremely young age, but they sadly tend to go into fields other than accounting.

The Guinness Book of Records tells us South Korea’s Kim Ung-yong got his PhD aged 15 and went into rocket science, presumably to fulfill the cliché that it’s the hardest discipline since all others are described as “hardly rocket science.”

Perhaps the most extreme case of early achievement is that of a pregnant U.K. woman named Amanda Collins who entered an ultrasound scan of her fetus into a baby beauty contest. It even got one of the prizes, although they waited until it was born to hand it over.

I think I can confidently say that no fetus is ever going to be a working accountant – they would struggle with the paperwork involved and the whole dark suit/white shirt thing is pretty much de rigueur, right?

Anyway, the whole “youngest-ever” thing is annoying. Accounting attracts older people, as it is popular as a second career – this column even featured a king in Africa who abdicated to become an accountant.

So those of us who are late bloomers, don’t despair.

Novelist Jean Rhys wrote her first bestseller at 76, and Indian polymath Nirad Chaudhuri wrote a book at the age of 100.

Fame and fortune awaits. Your day will come. No need to rush.

Nury Vittachi is a bestselling author, columnist, lecturer and TV host. He wrote three storybooks for the Institute, May Moon and the Secrets of the CPAs, May Moon Rescues the World Economy and May Moon’s Book of Choices

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