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gently enumerate the many and varied industries of this great section.
Coming as I do from Colorado I want to call attention to mining, that industry so often brought to your notice in fraudulent stock promoting enterprises, whose stock is offered throughout the land on the alluring promise, “A dollar investment for ten cents."
Mining, when conducted along conservative business lines, is a legitimate undertaking, and all we ask, is to know that money raised will be spent in honest development--not squandered in promotion expense, where ten dollars go for salary and advertising, and one dollar and perhaps less into the working of the property.
And here comes the opportunity of the accountant—to urge upon the investors the necessity of investigating not only the merits of the property itself, but also the management.
The Rocky Mountains have not been scratched, and look at the record of but one of her camps—Leadville-production to date over three hundred and sixty millions of dollars, still producing, and will produce for unnumbered years to come.
The wonderful possibilities of our western land are beyond the boundaries of an Arabian Nights tale, and I doubt not, but that many of us here to-night will live to see and enjoy the magnificent returns of western pluck and enterprise.
The Public Accountant.
Adam A. Ross, JR., C. P. A.,
In speaking of the public accountant, it may be well to refer very briefly to the origin and rise of the profession.
We have to look to England for the origin of the public accountant. Prior to the beginning of the nineteenth century he seems to have been chiefly a writing master and teacher of bookkeeping, without special recognition as a member of a distinct profession. He does not seem to have attained any real prominence in the business world until about 1840, when the period of great activity in building and speculating in American railways began. The over speculation in these enterprises resulted disastrously, as is well known, and the investigations and reorganizations which followed placed the professional accountancy for the first time on a solid and substantial basis. Soon after this under revised bankruptcy laws, accountants became eligible for appointment as official liquidators and trustees under the court, and the scope of their work became still further enlarged.
In our country the number of public accountants, however, was comparatively small until about fifteen or twenty years ago. Accountancy as a distinct profession was unknown to the public. An accountant was generally spoken of as an “expert," and was looked upon largely as a sort of lightning calculator, as one having special skill in unearthing defalcations.
The public always associated trouble with the visit of any "expert," and he was generally cautioned to disguise himself as much as possible and to step softly for fear of disturbing credit. Nevertheless, a great deal of work of a very important character was being done by these same public accountants.
The possibilities of accountancy as a constructive and organizing force in business administration became more clear because of the work of these men. It was work of this character rather than the Hawkshaw sort that has brought the American accountant to his well deserved and hard won place in the business community of to-day.
It is true that accountancy as a profession had its origin in Great Britain, but the accountancy which we typify here to-night is peculiarly American in its development. Starting without those advantages of technical education and careful apprenticeship which our English brethren have long enjoyed, the American accountant in characteristic fashion took hold of his work and made good. Realizing, however, in the long run that the prize goes to the trained man, he has made it possible for his successors to have the unquestioned advantage of preliminary technical education. Ten years ago our great universities would have offered nothing to students of accountancy. The men of the profession had to prove that there was a legitimate demand for education of this kind, and now, thanks to them, hundreds of earnest young men to-day in great universities throughout the land are getting not only culture but also technical knowledge that will mean much for the future of the American accountant.
The opportunities thrust upon the accountant by his work and the unusual demands made upon his mental and moral fibre have not been without their effect. The accountant of to-day, if he has stood up to his work, cannot be other than at least a broader if not a better man than the accountant of yesterday. His life has been full of discipline, sometimes of the most rigorous kind. He has made mistakes at times. His foresight has not always been as good as his hindsight-in which respect, however, he is by no means peculiar. All in all, we can well claim that the public accountant merits the confidence that he inspires.
Starting without preliminary advantages, without special recognition from the law, with no legislative favors, he has won for himself a sure place among the men of affairs of this country. All that he has asked of the State has been to provide for him and his successors an official standard, and we regret that in so many instances he has asked in vain. It cannot be denied for long, however. We feel sure that every state in the Union will ere long legally recognize the public accountant, and I sincerely hope that The American Association of Public Accountants will not allow another twenty years to go without changing its name to The American Association of Certified Public Accountants.
And may we not hope that the law will recognize the advisability of placing estates in bankruptcy and other trusts, in part at least, under the administration of members of our profession? Were it not better for all interests to select for such work men of broad training, familiar with the very essence of business principles, men who have been forced by the nature of their work to consider all questions judicially and impartially? Already the business man has deemed it wise to write into his partnership agreement or into the by-laws of his companies a provision for regular audits and statements of the accounts by disinterested certified public accountants.
One of the best things the accountant ever did for himself and his profession was to get together with his fellows. Ten years ago men in the same state, or the same city for that matter, scarcely knew each other, while men in different states had practically no intercourse with one another.
In closing I feel that the progress of the public accountant, whether certified or not certified, has been immeasurably advanced by this week's work in St. Paul. No one in touch with the spirit in which the important affairs relating to the profession have been handled here both in committee and in open meeting can fail to be impressed by the fact that the future of the profession in this country is in trustworthy hands; that in the American Association of Public Accountants we have an organization to which we can take all pride.
The Accountants of Western Canada.
By W. SIDNEY RONALD, C. A., President Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba. Our Secretary gave you a brief outline this afternoon of the work which the Chartered Accountants Association of Manitoba is trying to accomplish as an educational body, but he did not mention the work we are endeavoring to do along the line of developing sound business principles. Just as your Association is striving for public recognition as a body of specialists and experts, so are we, but it is a lamentable fact, that men to whom we have conceded the best judgment in business affairs can ignore or be ignorant of the distinction between Certified or Chartered Accountants and “Bookkeeper Auditors."
This latter class obtains to a very large extent in Western Canada, due, perhaps, to the newness of the country, the uncultivated business methods and lack of realization of the vital importance of an accurate diagnosis and presentation of facts for the grounding of future administrative policies, by those whose interests are at stake. Thus our work as yet is of a pioneer nature to an extent, although I am pleased to say that a notable improvement is apparent each year.
Just as a man appreciates the functions of a physician for his bodily welfare, so should he be brought face to face with the functions of a professional accountant for his business welfare. In educating those who have to be educated along this line, the accountants of Western Canada and elsewhere have a question of some delicacy to deal with. This ques
tion is, however, receiving our attention, and we find that results are being attained. Undesirable piratical practitioners upon the public and profession are beginning to find their level with us, as I suppose with you also. The organized bodies of reputable accountants must be ready to make judicious use of such opportunities for the advancement of their own merits, and the instruction of unfortunate clients as to the importance of making the distinctions hitherto unconsidered by them.
I was very much gratified to find, some weeks ago, that a body of men appointed in one of our western provinces to report upon a uniform system of municipal government had strangely recommended, among other things, a compulsory uniform system of bookkeeping, and pulsory audit thereof by a qualified government appointee with the rider that an outside accountant or firm of accountants might be retained by the municipalities, towns, or cities, if they so desired. This is not as much as we should have liked to see recommended, but it is a straw in the wind indicating that the past has not been all that could have been desired, and that attention is being directed to the betterment of this important department of public affairs.
This convention has been a very instructive and enjoyable affair to every co-delegate and myself. Hazy ideas which had previously come to us in planning the future welfare and activity of our Association have been developed, and plans have become concrete by the deliberations of your gathering
On behalf of our Association, I extend greetings and the injunction that on no account must any one of you visit Winnipeg without making the fact known to us.
The Relation of the Public Accountant to the
of the Chicago Bar. While in an ancient bankruptcy proceeding the year 1720) appears perhaps the first formal report of a public accountant, yet the evolution for good in the profession of accountants corresponds to that of the law. Few professions are linked close together. As opinion, in past ages, has generally associated the profession of the law with that of dispute and trouble, so has it become likewise considered in the practice of your profession. There is of record a saying that: “ Accountants make their fortunes by the misfortunes of others.” That the world is growing better is evidenced by no more conspicuous sign than the fact that this hitherto common opinion, both as to accountants and lawyers, has changed, and their services are to-day and every day being more and more sought for under constructive conditions rather than destructive.
Without the public accountant and his assistance, we must necessarily return to the small and limited transactions of our forefathers.
Fearless integrity is the foundation stone of both our professions. In the profession of law, the duties of the lawyer, and general practice is rapidly changing to-day (and has in the past), and likewise are the duties and requirements of the Public Accountant. The abstract guarantee companies are absorbing the real estate practice. The great commercial houses with their credit departments: the liquidating and adjustment bureaus: the reporting agencies: All absorb the commercial business or greatly lessen its quantity. The consolidations, great and small, absorb many clients of many attorneys and pass them on to but one, in this manner also, eliminating the chances of dispute and law-suits. The business of these large concerns need and use lawyers as “clerks," who in turn become narrowed by their routine clerical work.
These same agencies have created and are rapidly increasing the demand for those in your profession. One man with a small business may keep, or have kept, the accounts under his own immediate supervision. As he takes unto himself partners, the employees increase, and the farther each partner in interest is removed from personal transaction of the business, the greater is the necessity for accountants and auditors. As these ventures become corporations, and their stocks and securities pass current in strange hands, it requires that the accountants and auditors abould be publicly stamped as those to be depended upon.
In case of trouble, it is this accountant who must hand to the lawyer the facts that he will lay before the judge, so that the case can properly be dealt with and justice done to all. Time cannot permit personal investigation by each judge, and if it would, the day has long since passed, under the methods of our jurisprudence, when the judge decides by such means. The results are presented to him and it is this necessity that brings together the attorney and the accountant in such intimate association.
If shoulder to shoulder, we would lift the planks of dishonesty and recognize, in the dark, the signs and mysterious paths of fraud and conspiracy, each must have sufficient knowledge of the other's calling, that nothing may escape observation in the investigation. Every Certified Public Accountant should be well versed in the general principles of those laws governing the subject matter of his investigation.
When the attorney can say to the accountant that he desires to know if such and such things exist, and the accountant in turn knows the “signs "-or if he is in doubt is yet sure enough to present to the attorney all (note, I say "all") suspicious signs, then is there complete union between attorney and accountant, and they stand in proper relation to produce for their mutual clients that for which they take their money. Nothing short of this will do, and much more can be required.
As we know it has, in the past, been the custom to think of the lawyer as the only one to go to in time of trouble, likewise, we have seen the public accountant was first heard of as one appealed to for assistance