As you probably know by now, I am a great proponent of the CA(SA) brand.
One of the most impactful sessions in my coaching program is the one on personal branding. That is personal branding in relation to being a CA(SA). (CA(Z) and CA(NAM) fit it the same glorious category).
Usually when I ask clients what their brand represents, I inevitably get some vague answer which usually includes the bland adjectives like honesty, openness, integrity and niceness. Seldom do I get “I’m a CA(SA)!”. This astounds me. How can something so powerful be so blatantly minimised? Even when I propose that this element is the essence of their business branding, their response remains unimpressive and blank.
At the risk of sounding pretentious, this bugs me to distraction. Can they not see the power of the remarkable achievement of acquiring this exceptional qualification? Does it not say it all? Hard worker, clever, analytical, deadline-meeter, exceptional work ethic, integrity, professional, reliable, honourable, solid and, if articles were done with a large audit firm, downright marvellous (especially if they passed the board first time!).
So why is it that so many CA’s brand themselves as Brown Stuff, Sugar and Water (BSSW) when they are undisputedly, Coca Cola? Is it a humility thing? No! Is it a professional integrity thing? No! So, what then?
Well, in my opinion it is conditioning. Where other professions carry their qualifications on their sleeve for all to see, we CA’s play it down as though it was a deadly virus! I don’t agree with this. And it is simply this – like anything else in business, if you don’t stand behind your brand, nobody else will.
By the way there is an important reason why we tend towards the insignificant. It’s sort of instilled in us from day one. I remember that at university we were treated as if we were lower than marine mammal excrement and this did not change very much whilst serving out Articles. I was always made to feel that everyone was better than me and having a CA(SA) behind my name should be minimised to such a degree that I was encouraged not to put it on your business card or email signature. This always flummoxed me. Why was it that all other professions proudly displayed their credentials for all to see?
And then there are those odd creatures who deliberately refrain from putting CA(SA) behind their names for fear of being branded a ‘bean-counter’. That is ridiculous! Anyone branding a CA(SA) a bean-counter is delusional. Are all the other powerful attributes of being a qualified CA, specifically those mentioned above, substantially eclipsed by the negative connotations of the proverbial bean-counter? Anyone postulating such idea is a fool. It’s like saying a doctor is a nurse.
The tragedy is that so many CA’s buy into this nonsense and brand themselves as BSSW instead of the top-of-the-range end product, clothed in the finest trappings?
Come on, People – claim your space. You are the best of the best and that includes the rest of the world! Act like it (for crying out loud)!
And then there is the issue of self-esteem. But that is the subject of another article.