February 15, 2008
The Newspaper of the NYSSCPA
Vol. 11, No.3

The Father of Accounting

By John Barone, Nassau Chapter President

We are in the midst of a presidential election campaign year. The results could have a drastic effect on the future of our country. We all must determine what skills and attributes are critical to the role of president of the United States. Then we must decide which candidate best possesses those qualities. It is a difficult task but one that should not be taken lightly. What does this have to do with accounting? Well, it got me thinking about what skills and attributes would an accountant bring to the presidential race. What better person to nominate than Luca Pacioli, the Father of Accounting?

That’s right, there is a “Father of Accounting.” That’s a pretty lofty position. What were the attributes of the person who attained that title?

Luca Pacioli lived in Italy during the Renaissance. There is little known about the man. He was a mathematician and a professor. He became a Franciscan monk. He taught and collaborated with Leonardo da Vinci. So how did this intelligent, well-connected monk become the father of accounting? Documentation.

While he did not create the double-entry accounting system used by the Venetian merchants of the time, he took the time to write down the system, describing in detail the use of ledgers and journals. His publication entitled Everything about Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion included the first comprehensive description of accounting methodology in use at the time. And that’s how Luca became the “Father of Accounting,” by documenting the accounting system. If you’re on audit staff you can’t help but be amazed at how little things have changed in over 500 years. And you thought SAS103 was a new issue last year.

Thanks to Justine Tenney of my office for the history lesson.

Nassau and Suffolk chapters are having their annual spring networking with the bankers on Long Island on Mar. 19. Please save the date.

John Barone can be contacted at jbarone@weiserllp.com.

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