30 years a partner: John Cowan, chairman

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In January this year John Cowan celebrated 30 years as partner with Crowe Isle of Man.

John joined the practice in 1986, known then as Clark Whitehill Harper, later as Crowe Clark Whitehill, and in 1989 became a partner.

He said: ‘I was 29 when I became a partner, which even in those days was quite young.

‘I’d already specialised in tax then carried that on as a tax partner, before developing and leading the offshore side of the business.

‘I could go on about the past, but I won’t. Instead I prefer to look to the future and what it holds for the accounting profession at a time of change and challenge.

‘The rapid rate of advances in technology will undoubtedly shape the future of the profession. Clients are going to be able to do more and more themselves in terms of data processing, such as scanning invoices – if paper ones still exist – making payments and keeping their own books on their phones.

‘For us as accountants there will be much less routine book-keeping and accounts preparation and more advisory and interpretive work. And it’s up to us to make sure we deliver these services “smarter”.

‘As for young people entering the profession, they’re going to have to learn these skills much more quickly because clients will expect it of them. Learning double entry will, for the first time, take second place in a student’s education. 

‘I said I wasn’t going to look back, but as I approach the end of my career it is a little ironic to me that my 30 years as a partner has always been about giving advice, and I spent many of those years developing the skills and confidence to do this. But in the not-too-distant future accountants much younger than I was are going to be expected to be business advisers from the start. It’s going to be hard, but I’m sure exciting.

‘So, if I were 30-odd years younger would I choose the same career? Not a chance; I’d sign up for astronaut training in a heartbeat!’ 



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