Most accountants would like to believe that they fall into the first half of this sentence. The reality is that it's much more likely a combination of the two according to recent research. New Zealanders on average work 15% more hours a year than the OECD average and produce 20% less economic activity per hour (Conway & Meehan, 2013).
Imagine a 15% reduction in your wages cost or an increase of 20% in billable hours. Even better - imagine both, and you can quickly see how these could be the difference between failure and profitability, or profitability and the good life. Even with these improvements you would still only be at the OECD average and most New Zealanders would take exception to being described as average!
Taking a closer look at the productivity for the Professional, Scientific and Technical services industries, the ANZSIC group Accounting is classified under, shows that they have been experiencing labour productivity growth less than 1% over the past two decades. It has dropped down into negatives for the 2008-2011 period. Labour productivity is the amount of output produced from each unit of labour employed. For industries that rely heavily on labour input, these are worrying signs. For all our hard work and effort, we don't seem to be working any smarter.