A couple of months ago I came across the television and radio commercials of GoodAccountants.com and they got my back up.

What disturbed me was the fact that the ads for this referral service for accounting firms were often negative and derogatory comments were made about the expertise and work of accountants. The underlying pitch was your current accountant is providing inferior, unprofessional service and if you want a really good accountant, contact GoodAccountants.com.

To be fair and if you are interested, go to www.goodaccountants.com and you can hear and see some of those commercials. So why are these ads still bothering me? The reason is I just saw an ad for a national firm (not a Big Four) that knocked the quality of its competitors in providing consulting services.

I am not used to accountants publicly attacking other accountants. When I saw the first GoodAccountants.com ad I was taken back and thought it must be an anomaly. But as time goes on, that appears not to be the case.

And, it's not just ads, I have been to a number of conferences where the discussion turns to formal proposals for a business to change its accountant and the question is asked, "Can I tell the potential new client what's wrong with his current accountant?" The response was always, "Talk about the positives your firm offers, and don't, on your own, raise negatives about the firms that you are competing against."

That's good to hear, but the trend is still disturbing because obviously more accountants are, at least thinking about, going negative against their fellow professionals. How very sad it is that some see nothing wrong in these types of negative attacks, or feel compelled to launch them because of competitive pressures.

I hope I am wrong, but unless the profession adopts ethical standards and enforces them, I expect this mudslinging to only intensify.

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