Accountants Go Beyond Bean Counting

By Cindy Atoji Keene, Boston Globe Correspondent

When a new law regulating nonprofit groups was adopted in Massachusetts in 2006, accounting consultant Kevin Derrivan found himself explaining UPMIFA - the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act - to a lot of board directors.

Acting as an information resource is just one of the many roles Derrivan performs as a financial management expert working for Accounting Management Solutions Inc. of Waltham. He has been asked to do everything from audit reviews to fill in as interim chief financial officer.















Before leaving the Salem office of Aapex International Inc. to meet with another client, Kevin Derrivan of Accounting Management Solutions chatted with Aapex sales manager Tracey Price.


Derrivan, 49, travels to New Jersey, New Hampshire, and points in between, seeing up to a half-dozen clients per day. One week, his calendar included putting together a presentation for a client preparing for a bank refinancing; doing some bookkeeping; and helping a small company get ready for the first board meeting.

“Accountants are not just boring bean counters with visors, crunching numbers,’’ he said. “Often I am a strategic partner, interpreting what the numbers are telling us and what they mean to a company.’’

Why would a company want to outsource a service like accounting?

Economic uncertainty, and companies’ increasing aversion to the commitment related to full-time hires makes outsourcing an ideal solution.

Accounting can sound like a foreign language with so many acronyms. What’s a sampling of some “must-know’’ terms?

It may sound like a foreign language, but all professions have their buzzwords. Some of the “must-know’’ terms include basics like P&L (Profit and Loss), EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization, and GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).

Is it nerve-racking to work in a profession where a single decimal point can make a difference?

When you’ve been trained and worked with figures for so long, precision becomes second nature, so it’s not something that keeps me up at night. Good, old-fashioned checking and re-checking helps a great deal as well.

Do you do your own taxes?

No! The one year I did it myself, I owed big money. Today, I receive refunds because I leave that to people who specialize in taxation. People don’t realize that there are dozens of specialties within the finance and accounting profession. Doing my own taxes would be like replacing a basketball player with a jockey - he might know how to dribble and pass but he might have some trouble getting the ball in the basket.

What motivated you to establish a career in accountancy?

I started out as a psychology major and ended up switching to accounting because I always thought that someday I’d be in business for myself. Today I still have that kind entrepreneurial outlook.

The original article appeared in The Boston Globe on January 18, 2012.

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