Famous Man

The Misadventures of the Street Strategist Vol.4

 

 Street Strategist 's Home Page

 

  Read a chapter  from the book and see the Table of Contents below

In this volume the Street Strategist, the most famous unknown, the pavement philosopher of maximum imagination and minimum talent, of infinite comprehension and zero knowledge, of total opinion and minimal truth,  

  • emphasizes that the government should be a service regulator not a service provider, 
  • relates that presidential speechwriting is a talent that one cannot fake, 
  • provides strategies for several businesses other than their main operations, 
  • worries about the size of bond papers, 
  • discusses a revolutionary discovery on Prime Number theory in India, 
  • theorizes the merger of Merrill Lynch and HSBC, 
  • laments about the lack of world-class attitude among Filipinos, 
  • lectures on the law on finding lost money, 
  • interviews former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, 
  • witnesses the Hong Kong auction of Juan Luna’s Parisian Life, 
  • and among other things, is reviewed by Editor-in-Chief of The Standard.

Famous Man: The Misadventures of the Street Strategist Volume 4 is the latest compilation of the continuing chronicles of the Most Famous Unknown’s convoluted ruminations on the irrelevant, the immaterial, the insignificant, the negligible, and the obscure, as published in the longest column space in the country.

 

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More reactions to the Street Strategist’s accounting invention

Reactions to
The Accounting Wizard
(Part 2)

I

t was probably the height of incongruity: A non-civil engineer giving a technical plenary presentation in a national congress of educators in the civil engineering profession, on a far off-topic of accounting.

It would have been all right if that non-civil engineer was an accountant, but he was not, and that instantly made the scenario even more incongruous.

Then again, since that non-accountant was – surprise, surprise – the Street Strategist, unsurprisingly, all the incongruities vanish.

Somehow, wherever and whenever we find the Street Strategist, no matter how out of place, he seems to blend in with chameleonic precision.

Redemption

When I learned that the conference organizers were calling for papers, despite being late, I inquired if they were interested in The Accounting Wizard.

The conference was to be held in November 2002. First, it was a late submission, and they told me the session slots were full. Then, they didn’t know what to do with it; they liked it but it didn’t fit in any category. Furthermore, the imaginary conversation in which it was written didn’t fit the normal technical paper. They even suggested if I can rewrite it. They were afraid it would tone down the seriousness and formality of the conference. I told the Dutch engineers of the steering committee that maybe they can warn the delegates it was to be a light-hearted session simultaneous with other serious ones so they can choose not to attend. But I also suggested that maybe, in future conferences, they can include finance and accounting practices used in large civil engineering projects as one of the topic categories.

Eventually, they accepted it, and rather than just being one of the simultaneous sessions, they even created a special plenary session for it.

Actually, I was interested in presenting the Wizard in that conference primarily for sentimental reasons.

This year’s venue was just one floor below where I first came face to face with debit and credit. And it was poetic justice that I came back to redeem my earlier debit and credit failures by showing to the delegates how I hurdled them.

One of the things I emphasized was this. I had the guts to redefine the balance sheet. I illustrated how textbooks define the balance sheet, and how I redefined it. Nobody in his right mind would even think of thrashing away the textbook definition in the first place.

After the presentation, in the lunch buffet queue, one delegate approached me, and said, “I like the way you explained why you thought there was a problem when in fact accountants didn’t think there was any, and the way you used engineering concepts or methods to arrive at your codes.”

Hemingway

Moving on, here are additional letters I received a few months back .

From a fund manager, with an economics degree, who is an assistant VP of the investment arm of the one of the country’s top three banks: “I really liked your codes and your concise description of what a balance sheet and income statement are; for example, the balance sheet is a list of assets and how they were financed.

“These types of descriptions are so clear and precise – and concise – that, in literary terms, they are equivalent to Hemingway's famous use of the short sentence. Please use more of this style.

“Also, please apply your ‘Accounting Wizard thinking’ to the cash flow statement. It remains a mystery to me. And I would be grateful if you would demystify it.”

From a CPA-MBA, who is senior manager of treasury of a small bank, and who also teaches accounting: “I found it very informative and to a certain degree funny that a non-accountant could devise a very simple way of how to understand accounting without really trying.

“I am looking at the article from the point of view of an accounting instructor. The problem, or shall we say, the hard part that most of us instructors handling higher accounting subjects encounter with most students of accounting, and most especially those not majoring in accounting, is the fact that these students have a hard time understanding the debits and credits principle.

“However, reading The Accounting Wizard you have put it across in a manner too easy to comprehend that even a high school student can understand. Add to it your explanation on how to go about the bank reconciliation statement.  This bank recon is often a source of confusion for accounting students and also employees who did not major in accounting. This is what I have experienced at work. Your approach is simply SUPERB!

“The Street Strategist is really a genius! Because how else can you explain the “invention” of the six codes of debit and credit. It really made me wonder why through out all these years not a single author of a book in accounting has thought of it. Now, I can't wait to teach basic accounting with this “invention.” Hope you will permit me to use it in my accounting classes if ever I would have the chance to handle some basic accounting subjects this coming school year. A million of thanks to you!”

Succinct and incisive

From a senior credit officer of a mid-sized bank with a degree in applied economics and currently an MBA student: “I have read The Accounting Wizard but first, I would like to say you have a very unique style of writing or delivering. Personally, your style constantly keeps me guessing as to what your real stance on a particular topic is whenever you apply a host of arguments or employ different points of view.  It keeps me more focused since I might miss a critical point.

“The article simplified everything to me.  I had always thought accounting is bookkeeping, I gullibly accepted it as a universal truth.   

“I also learned that there is no need to memorize accounting entries.  Before, I have to constantly remind myself of what the normal credit or debit balances of an Asset and Liabilities or Equity but your explaining of the T account, employing the Accounting Equation, and the SS codes made my life easier.

“Lastly, I believe that my learning went beyond the article.  It widened my learning horizon and I thank you for that.”

From a lady middle level executive with accountancy and marketing majors: “I’ve read the article The Accounting Wizard and indeed, our Street Strategist has a brilliant mind. Of all the people I’ve met and asked about accounting, nobody ever justified why this, that and this (debits/credits), happened to be that way. You’ve made us understand that the complexity of accounting can be plain and simple. That there's really nothing to be scared about “accounting” like what most people's notion that accounting is so complicated.

“I tell you, you're real SMART. Simply amazing .”

From a lady VP of the country’s largest bank: “I requested The Accounting Wizard out of curiosity.  The rain of compliments heightened the curiosity.

“Well, they were not wrong.  I, too, found the Wizard witty, succinct and incisive. I am not the target reader, however, as I am a CPA.”

Something missing

From the president of a fashion and industrial wear factory: “After reading your article I agree with the comments of previous readers that accounting can be explained simpler. I wish that this article was already available during my college days (early 60's). I finished industrial engineering but took extra accounting subjects with the plan before to finish accountancy as well but did not materialize after I started working. I got good grades in my accounting subjects by getting familiar how it is being done, memorizing terminologies involved but seems to be missing something until I read your article.  I am interested to learn more about your approach in this subject and please let me know if you have a scheduled seminar and I will be very interested to attend especially if held on a weekend. Appreciate much for being unselfish in sharing your views regarding accounting which I found very helpful.”

I am really glad that informally, the academe has caught on. Two years ago, MBA students in Malaysia emailed me that they were using it. Here in our own universities, the students are starting to enjoy the simplicity and the intuitiveness of the invention.

From an MBA student: “I am now a member of the incoming MBA class at the UPCBA. Could I have your permission to forward your article The Accounting Wizard to the egroups for MBA 2004 (day program) and MBA 2005 night. Told these guys about your article and they were very interested.”

From a sales manager who is taking up his MBA: “A batchmate of mine in UP informed us of your Accounting Wizard which interests me since I am not an accounting major. As of now, after several workshops, accounting has become a waterloo for my field.  Thus, I am looking forward and exploring on how to master this discipline.”

Of course, you must have read my earlier article Voted Down in UP and I’m confident that these students will no longer be as confused as I was.

The professionals

Among the CPAs, there are many who are intrigued of the article on an individual basis, but no interest so far as a group.

Obviously, accounting is one large body of rules, and debit and credit are at the bottom of the ranks.

When these professional bodies conduct their own accounting for non-accountants seminars, they make the mistake of unloading the entire accounting cycle from book keeping to trial balance to financial statements in one go.

This is where I think they are making a huge mistake. Those who are attending these courses are mathematical geniuses, physicists, and engineers before they became corporate managers.

n the other hand, there are many of those who took freshman accountancy who even had to take remedial algebra classes.

Accountants do not think that there is something wrong with their method of teaching basics.

However, based on my disastrous experience with grappling even the basic concepts of debit and credit, I became convinced that accounting students learn these concepts in great part due to weeks of intensive memorization rather than intuitive discovery.

This explains why many non-accounting managers including mathematically trained engineers and scientists, even after several courses on accounting still fail to understand basic accounting concepts especially debit and credit.

I even asked several CPAs about these, some with 20 years of experience, and they confessed that it took them from three weeks to three months to understand debit and credit fully.

What amazed some of them is that they didn’t even realize, until after they read my article, that the old method is indeed full of redundancies. They never gave it a thought.

As you read these reactions, you have technical managers who still felt they never understood debit and credit even after several courses of accounting for non-accountants.

This is very ironic.

People who can evaluate integral calculus mentally cannot understand accounting, which uses only addition and subtraction and not even division or multiplication.

Eventually, like I did, one has to make a conclusion. It is not the student but rather how it is taught that is at fault.

The academe

Aside from non-accounting managers, I feel that the best target market of The Accounting Wizard are the tens of thousands every year who study accountancy.

However, I only have two feedbacks (official or semi-official) from universities who have used it to introduce accounting. If there are teachers out there using it, I would like to hear from them.

I know one school uses it, because I had the chance to meet its university president, who has a copy of my book. But I’m not sure how widely it is being used there.

Maybe, the accountancy teachers don’t want to use it because it is not written by an accountant.

But there is one large university in the capital city that has used it for its freshmen. Their head of accountancy is game enough to acknowledge that my method is indeed fast, efficient, and easy.

He said: “I had just circularized your article to my accounting instructors for their comments and reactions which will be taken up in our next faculty meeting on June 8.

“Personally, I found your article to be innovative and creative in making easier the correct association of debit and credit transactions on the various elements of accounting (assets, liabilities, equity, revenue & expenses).

“Your SS codes put into written form what practicing accountants take for granted when we discuss among ourselves since we just assume that the other fellow accountants are so familiar with the effects of debit and credit transactions on the accounting elements.

“What normally happens when accountants talk among themselves, is to discuss accounting entries (the debits and the credits) and their effects on the elements. I can only imagine how we accountants sound to non-accountants (who haven't read the Street Strategist's article on becoming an Accounting Wizard) who I would assume become discombobulated with the accountants' technical jargon.

“I also think that your approach in making easier the understanding of accounting will be useful to our accounting faculty who are teaching the basic accounting course (Accounting 1) and those who are teaching accounting to students who are not going to major in accounting. I will certainly give you regular feedback from my faculty on the Accounting Wizard.

“More power to you and I hope that you will continue writing very interesting and intriguing articles.”

After a few months, it seems that the instructors themselves realized how the article unburdened them from having to repeat and repeat the rules of debit and credit for weeks. Here are follow up comments from the said head of accountancy: “Thanks for the article on accounting. My accounting instructors couldn't believe that it was that easy teaching accounting basics. I told them to make use of your article as reference material.”

Reformulation

Altogether, I only wanted to share with you my experience at being confused, humiliated, and mocked at, for not being able to understand even the most basic of concepts.

I wasted my time trying to resolve my confusion, when others would not have considered it a problem at all. I also braved the storm even to the point of dismissing the traditional definitions and inventing my own interpretation of the terms.

I also deconstructed their rules, and reconstructed them from scratch until I arrived at a different reformulation of the same rules. All these could have been done by an expert but he has to recognize that a problem exists in the first place. And he must also recognize that it is a major one to justify wasting his time.

And he must also recognize that a different solution better than the current one had to exist.

In the end, only a person with a burning interest in the obscure, irrelevant, immaterial, and the insignificant was crazy enough to tackle it – your friendly Street Strategist.

(Thads Bentulan, December 12 2002)

* * * * * t * * * * *

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

Chapter

 

Page

 

Service Regulator
July 11, 2002

11

 

Alternative Realities
July 18, 2002

21

 

State of Dissonance
July 25, 2002

29

 

Rapport
August 1, 2002

35

 

A4
August 8, 2002

43

 

Prime Time
August 15, 2002

49

 

World-class Attitude
August 22, 2002

61

 

The Reluctant Journalist
August 29, 2002

63

 

Rush of Creation
September 5, 2002

77

 

The Unknown Acquaintance
September 12, 2002

85

 

Psychic Income
October 3, 2002

89

 

The Merger of Merrill Lynch and HSBC
October 10, 2002

97

 

Poster Boy
October 17, 2002

105

 

Theft
October 24, 2002

113

 

The Valuation of Juan Luna Part 1
October 31, 2002

121

 

The Valuation of Juan Luna Part 2
November 7, 2002

131

 

Hidden Agendum
November 14, 2002

147

 

The Great Paul Volcker Interview
November 21, 2002

153

 

Forced Reward
November 28, 2002

161

 

Reactions to the
Accounting Wizard Part 1
December 5, 2002

171

 

Reactions to the
Accounting Wizard Part 2
December 12, 2002

181

 

One Special Gift
December 19, 2002

189

 

Famous Man
December 26, 2002

197

 

Postface

211