To celebrate international youth day, The Accountant and International Accounting Bulletin asks professionals aged under 35 to share their thoughts on the profession: why they qualify as accountants, whether it was challenging and, now that they are in, how they see the profession and where it is going.
Leonel Zanotto Tax advisory manager SMS Latinoamérica
Already at high school, I realised that I liked professions related to economic sciences. That is why I applied for a scholarship at the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa in Buenos Aires, Argentina to pursue a career in business administration and CPA (Certified Public Accountant). When I finished high school and before starting my university studies, I started working in a small accounting firm. After two years, I started my true professional career in SMS Latinoamérica, my current employer.
My motivation to pursue economic sciences came from my family, specially my mother. I was particularly interested in tax issues, my current specialization which fascinates me and always keeps me on my toes with the study book always at hand as it requires constant updating.
I have faced many difficulties, though. I think that in general, the Economics profession, and the accounting in particular requires a clearer, more precise and less heterogeneous regulatory framework at the national level. I see many shortcomings in the regulatory bodies and the professional councils that are supposed to represent and protect our interests.
While I am actively practicing my profession, I am also fortunate to dedicate myself to something that I am really passionate about- teaching. I am a teaching assistant at Buenos Aires University (UBA) and recently joined the faculty at UADE (Universidad Argentina de la Empresa, my Alma Matter).
I see in many of my students a passion to learn, to do things well but -at the same time- I see in some of them an attitude to take things lightly, stay on the surface of knowledge, take advantage of others and take the fastest and less committed route to the professional practice.
Our profession is much downgraded in our country and it is at the university and at the Professional Council that one should lead the example and start to make a change. Accountants have lost professional prestige due to numerous corruption related issues in the world. Argentina, far from adapting to its regulatory frameworks, is clinched to a federal system of control of the profession that is based more on preserving "the cash" than in the real needs of professionals. This is not new, as it is something I found very imbedded in our industry. And it still goes on today.
Another important issue I have seen is that there is a huge gap between what is taught in the university and what you end up learning in the real world of the professional practice. I believe that professional practice in our career should be like the residency for doctors, mandatory and necessary condition to obtain the qualifying title. To the extent that these requirements are incorporated and a regulatory framework is put into practice, which considers constant training mandatory for the development of the profession, I believe that the professional in economic sciences will gain in quality and builds its prestige.
My feeling upon graduation was that I was already an armed professional, ready to face the working challenges ahead and that it was the end of my learning process. I was wrong; it was only the beginning…! I believe that constant training and permanent updating are key to developing our profession in Argentina, even more watching the ever-changing, diverse and dynamic framework of rules we live in, especially in tax matters.