Like lots of professions, the idea of a career in accountancy has certain stereotypes. You’ll need to be a maths genius, whilst somehow being both unswervingly dull yet somewhat… creative. Fortunately, the reality of being an accountant is much more interesting than the myth.
So, what’s fact, and what’s fiction about the world of accounting? From their front row seats of the industry, our accountants share some of the most common myths they hear when people find out what they do for a living.
Don’t you need to be brilliant at maths to be an accountant?
These are in no particular order, but the maths question definitely takes the number one slot for stereotypical assumptions about being an accountant. OK, so you will need a decent level of numeracy skills to cope with the job, but it’s nothing like the equations scrawled across a blackboard in every film that references a maths genius ever.
Research and analytical skills (like the ones you get from doing a degree) are actually much more useful for an accountant. You’ll need to be able to find information, analyse and interpret data, and assess lots of little details without losing sight of the big picture. It’s more like detective work than maths.
Isn’t accounting incredibly boring?
Actually, like all professions, it depends on what you’re in to, and what you specialise in. Every accountant is also a human being (we really are!), and as such, incredibly diverse – much like the job itself.
One day you might be working with a tech start-up on their financial forecast. The next you might be explaining to the director of a limited company that they’re paying thousands of pounds more tax than they should be.
There are different types of accounting too, from tax specialists to forensic accountants, and all the problem-solving, investigating, and auditing in between. Being an accountant pretty much puts you at the forefront of every business or organisation.
But… aren’t accountants incredibly boring?
Almost every single one of the team has encountered this question, usually delivered with a look of total confusion. Every person is different, with their own unique interests and hobbies. Being boring has nothing to do with the job, and everything to do with the person! And really, if you find something interesting, what does it matter if the next person doesn’t?
But for a bit of context, the various hobbies our team of accountants enjoy includes rock climbing, football, reading, embroidery, swimming, free running, and occasionally running around the local parks dressed as a chicken to raise money for charity (yep, that happened).
Can’t accounting be quite lonely?
This accounting myth crops up surprisingly often, and to be honest, we don’t really know why. The idea that accountants work by themselves in a paper-strewn back room somewhere is nowhere the reality.
As an accountant you’re more likely to be working in a very collaborative environment, interacting with colleagues, business owners, decision makers, and even investigators.
It’s true, some of us are much more shy than others, but excellent communication skills come in all shapes and sizes. And yes, like pretty much every other aspect of life, good communication is a massive bonus.
You’ll need to be able to understand and interpret all sorts of information, from accounts records, to stressed clients, and HMRC’s sometimes contradictory guidance. It’s your job to make sense of it all, and make everything accessible and easy to understand. Not all heroes wear capes (although in our office we actually sometimes do – it was another charity fundraising event).
The Accountancy Partnership provide online accounting services to small businesses from our bright and airy offices in London and the Northwest. Find out more about our team of accountants!
Written by Tom Bilby, Marketing Executive at The Accountancy Partnership