In the latest issue of Accounting Today, I ask if there are any readers out there who have tattoos and if their firms know. Well, I’ve already gotten a couple of answers to my query – and they both sit on opposite sides of the fence.

Rob Nance, publisher over at AccountingWEB replied, “I would never hire an accountant, attorney, doctor, dentist or other professional who had an exposed tattoo. It’s a giant red flag, in my book. Granted, if that person had a tattoo of a giant red flag, then I might think differently.”

OK, gotcha. But, doesn’t that exclude a large population of people that are good at their job who just happen to sport ink on their skin? Does it pay to judge someone on that sort of personal expression?

Approximately 40 percent of Gen Xers model tattoos and that’s a 2006 statistic– so you can bet that number is continuing to climb. So while accountants and CPAs are known for their conservative demeanor and outlook, there’s a chance that might be changing as the younger generation begin to lead firms.

Another response came in from a New York City CPA. We’ll leave out his name to protect the identity of those in his story:

“Over 30 years ago I was promoted to manager at a Big 8 firm’s NYC office. I was selected to serve on a panel updating the NY metro audit group on SEC changes. The head audit partner for the NY region told me that since the seminar was on a Saturday I could dress informally. I wore a blazer and open collar shirt. He showed up in a Glen Plaid suit and tie. Anything less than navy, black or a dark pinstripe was informal to him. Six months later we had a management sports day for the NY region. In the locker room I saw this same senior partner with two tattoos. One was a (large) battleship on his chest, the other a heart with ‘mom’ in the middle on his arm. I forced one of my colleagues to witness these tats. He was an older manager and advised me to forget what I saw.”

Just goes to show you never know. And that just because you may have a tattoo, doesn’t mean you can’t be a professional – or be taken seriously.