Why are so many of us addicted to the disciplinary sections of magazines published by professional bodies?
Whenever Economia arrives on the doorstep, I flick through the long, boring looking articles smacking my lips with relish at the prospect of finding out who has been caught with their hand in the till or pants down.
The disciplinary pages are always fascinating, despite the fact that most of the offences committed by accountants are pretty tame.
Reading these pages is similar to gawping at tabloid headlines. But rather than hearing about accountants divorcing after being caught in embarrassing positions with their wives’ best friends, murders or high profile job losses, we have to settle for minor fraud gossip and scandals about those who audit without the authority to do so.
Accounting lifers have the added bonus of that ambiguous feeling when you discover that a former colleague, friend or foe has been hauled up before the beak and has to face the consequences
For some reason, I’m not in the “there but for the grace of God, go I” camp. This might be because I take care about my job; but perhaps we all share a degree of recklessness or delusion.
If these reports are anything to go by, accountants really do lead dull lives. Very rarely is someone drummed out of the institute for committing mass murder, or even harming a pussycat. The worst we can hope for is a little bit of financial wrongdoing, which should be our chosen vice in any event.
There is something moreish about discovering a Big Four firm couldn’t get its paperwork right, or a slightly smaller organisation was dipping its hands into client money without proper documentation. Usually, though, they are tales of small traders who clearly got out of their depth and will no longer be able to use the esteemed initials they spent so much blood, sweat and tears attaining.
Most readers will claim they are not even aware of the pages at the back of all of the professional bodies’ magazines which detail wrongdoing.
Like those that reputedly read men’s magazines hidden under the cover of The Times before it became a tabloid, I suspect that many secretly derive the same bizarre pleasure that I do from the kind of schadenfreude that reading about others’ inability to do the basics right.
If you haven’t tried them out yet, the silly season when there is no news around might be the perfect opportunity.