All though my consulting career I have always focused on the client facing work.  I would read our financial reports and try to understand them.  However there were many things I did not understand the explanations given.  Often I decided it was just my aversion to those details and dropped the subject.  That was a mistake, I believe.  If something does not make sense, I now realize that something is wrong and I should dig until I understand. 

We had a very confusing situation many years ago about our submission of tax submissions for salary deductions.  We were told by our auditors we had over submitted one month and so we corrected to overpayment.  Then the tax people said they disagreed and our accounting people and the tax people were in discussion for some time.  None of the partners got involved because it just sounded like a technical issue.  Several years later, it turned out we had not overpaid and the auditors had screwed up.  It was a major penalty and we fired our auditors. 

The lesson I learned was that these things are not just accounting fiddles but are business problems.  If something does not look right or sound right, something is wrong.  Dig until you understand and it makes sense.   Some of these issues are a little artificial because of accounting rules but they are time tested. 

The financial issues are far too important to be left to bean counters.  They can help but cannot resolve the business issues that underlie the accounting.

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