Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neill coined the popular saying, "All politics is local." Replace "politics" with "business" and the same rings true for Main Street accountants in public practice.

All good politicians know they must continue to be responsive to their constituents' concerns if they want to remain in office. And CPAs know that their clients are much more concerned about their own books and their own accountants than with what happened to some Fortune 500 company thousands of miles away.

Former New York Senator Al D’Amato was known in his hometown of Island Park, Long Island as "Senator Pothole" because he responded to the local concerns of his constituents, and made sure reporters followed him to his Italian momma’s house for dinner every now and then.

Poll after poll following the Andersen/Enron/WorldCom debacles showed that small businesspeople have never wavered in their defense of, and admiration for, their own accountants.

In the wake of such scandals, the pollsters almost always expressed some surprise at the favorable responses, but for local business folks and their accountants, it’s been business as usual despite all the hoopla and harassment the accounting profession has gotten in the media over the past year .

And in conversations with CPAs, from the managing partners of large local firms, to one-person shops in middle America, I got the same response every time I asked whether the accounting scandals have affected their client relationships. A resounding, "Nope."

So despite the ongoing media interest in the new accounting oversight board, the role (if any) that the American Institute of CPAs will play in standards setting, and the possibility of other Andersen/Enrons ticking away in some corporate ledgers, nothing’s really changed, or probably will change in the way most CPAs conduct their practices and deal with their clients.

All business, after all, is local.


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