With tax time around the corner, I went to see my accountant Jack this week. He‘s been handling my money for decades, and for the first time, I saw signs I may have to find a new accountant. I don’t know Jack’s exact age, but he is a Holocaust survivor, and I am guessing probably in his mid- to late 80s.
This man has always been sharp as a tack, but while I was there, he made a few obvious errors and asked me questions I knew he had the answers to in the past. I didn’t have the heart to say anything and now I’m torn. How do I leave someone whom I’ve been loyal to for so many years? I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I can’t afford to have him working with my money any longer.
When Loyalty Has to End
Dear When Loyalty Has to End,
It’s a blessing to be physically and mentally able to accomplish in your 80s what you were able to do in your 40s. Usually, throughout a career, you work your way to the top, hopefully reach a peak then level off. However, an eventual decline in ability and stamina is inevitable.
I can only imagine the horrors Jack lived through in his youth, the struggles he overcame to get to this country and make a new life, and the feeling of pride he and his family must feel for everything he’s accomplished. The mere fact that he’s still working in a position that requires a sharp mind is a testament to his very character.
At this stage, Jack probably has no clue how to move on without this job. It must terrify him to think of what he will do every day if he doesn’t have it. He’ll have no routine, no purpose to get up in the morning – or so he may believe.
In hindsight, perhaps you should have gently pointed out the mistakes. Jack may not be aware that he’s slipping. It’s much easier for you, who only sees him once or twice a year, to see the decline. Maybe Jack or his family are not aware that time has finally taken its toll on his ability to continue in his career.
You have to be practical. Logically you can’t use a professional who can’t do their job at an optimum level. You can still remain friends, but ultimately you have to be honest. Give Jack the respect he deserves. Point out your concerns and explain why you have chosen to move on. Thank him for the many years he took such good care of your finances.
It would be a shame for Jack to be remembered for the mistakes he made in the end, rather than his successes and incredible endurance that very few people are lucky enough to have into such an advanced age.
There is something to be said about ending on a high note.
I used to love my job, but it’s no longer challenging. The things I used my mind to solve are now solved by computers.
All I do is program data and the machine spits out answers. After 27 years of doing the same work I think I’m ready for a change. But what can I do? I have hobbies and love to create. I bake, paint, sew and love to decorate, but those aren’t careers. I’m so set in my ways, I’m afraid to budge. My job is easy, but I see my life passing before me.
Need a change
Dear Need a change,
Change is scary, especially without a plan. But I can hear that you have done a lot of thinking, and now it’s just a matter of putting your courage hat on and making the mental move first. Once you’ve done that, the actual physical move will require a more concrete strategy.
If you can afford to, perhaps go back to school to learn interior design, or how to become a pastry chef, or how to open your own dressmaking/alteration business. Start with the scores of career assessment quizzes and information sites on the Internet.
Ultimately, you should speak to a professional career counsellor who will know the steps you should take and guide you in the right direction.
Once you have a plan, it will be time to jump in with both feet.
We are the creators of our own destiny. Now go create.