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Percentages can be misleading

One of the first clients I ever visited when I started training as an accountant was a bookseller.

I remember being unable to understand how the clerk had computed his percentages when sales were falling. These included such impossible results as minus 134% and minus 179%.

I explained how to compute the percentage movement in sales from one period to another. The look of joy on the clerk's face was a delight as he came to appreciate a key fact: Whilst upward trends had no limit (eg: increases of four time the previous week's sales would show as plus 400%), downward trends could never be worse than minus 100% (if no sales were made). He was thrilled.

I went back a few weeks later to check all was well. Unfortunately a stack of books (previously counted as 'sold') had been returned thus creating 'minus sales' ...............!
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Are you a prostitute or are you an auditor?

1. You work very odd hours.

2. You are paid a lot of money to keep your client happy.

3. You are paid well but your pimp gets most of the money.

4. You spend a majority of your time in a hotel room.

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The comedian Ken Dodd, was prosecuted for tax evasion in 1989 as has been mentioned on this blog before, here and here. I'd love to find a clip of him talking about it in his act. For now though here are a couple of references to comments he makes about the experience.

He is known to introduce himself as a “failed accountant”. That, he explains, is simply to establish a rapport with the audience. “People today are all stressed out about home economics, and accountants are the current bogeymen. [Since when?]

Dodd is the butt of a lot of his material and repeated references are made to his love of money, his dislike of what he insists on calling the Inland Revenue and his past run-in with them. “They sent me a self-assessment form the other day. To me! I invented self-assessment.”

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