Almost half of accountants believe accountancy is viewed as a stuffy, dull profession

Almost half of accountants believe accountancy is viewed as a stuffy, dull profession

New data from cloud accounting provider, FreeAgent sheds light on the true nature of the accounting profession.

According to accountants, one of the main barriers to entry into the profession is the negative stereotypes of accountants or the accountancy profession (40%) according to new data from cloud accounting provider, FreeAgent.

As a result, stereotypes on perceptions of the profession have a direct impact on individuals pursuing careers in accounting.

The research, which explores the perceptions of the accounting profession through the eyes of both business leaders and accountants, tackles common stereotypes associated with accountants, such as being boring, number-crunchers, or lacking creativity.

Despite the profession offering a diverse range of exciting opportunities from advising businesses on financial matters to uncovering fraud through forensic accounting, the data shows that the top three misconceptions of accountants are as follows: accountancy is a stuffy, dull profession (49%), accountants are boring (44%) and you have to excel at maths to be an accountant (42%).

“The data highlights a disparity in how the profession is viewed by both businesses and accountants, giving insight into how modern accountants are increasingly playing strategic roles within organisations beyond perception,” says  Roan Lavery, CEO of FreeAgent.

Dispelling the profession’s “stuffy and dull” myth

While the majority of business leaders believe that the stereotype of accountants being boring is false (77%), over a quarter (27%) of business leaders agree with the stereotype that accountancy is a stuffy, dull profession and nearly a third (31%) agree with the stereotype that accountants are introverts who love numbers.

Looking at accountants’ representation within the media, over a quarter of business leaders believe that accountants have uninteresting social lives as this is how they’ve been depicted (26%). This perpetuates the notion that accountants are solitary individuals who prefer working with data and figures over interpersonal interactions.

In reality, successful accountants often possess a combination of analytical prowess, strategic and creative thinking, as well as strong interpersonal skills, serving as trusted advisors and strategic partners in decision-making processes. This is supported by the fact that 95% of business leaders believe that accountants are important to their business.

‘Despite the perpetuation of stereotypes, the accountancy sector stands out as a leading industry in innovation and value creation, reflecting significant advancements over time. As the accounting sector continues to evolve, accountants must confront and challenge these stereotypes to increase interest in the sector once more,” says Lavery.

By perpetuating the stereotype of accountants as introverted number-crunchers, the profession risks dissuading the next generation of accountants from pursuing careers in accounting. As such, accountants must challenge these misconceptions and highlight the diverse talents and contributions of accounting professionals to dispel outdated stereotypes once and for all.

Skills for the modern accountant

Accounting is a great career for many, the data shows that for many accountants job security is what most attracts them to the profession (44%), not the requirement for strong mathematical skills. While it’s a common misconception that to be an accountant individuals must excel at maths, accountants believe an entirely different range of skills are needed to excel at the job today.

With advancements in technology, the common misanthrope of accountants working within data-heavy Excel sheets and ledgers is no more. As such, accountants can work intuitively within cloud-based and instant systems, freeing up time for other aspects of the role.

The top skills valued by accountants to excel at the role include high attention to detail (59%), problem-solving skills (56%) and analytical skills (46%) first and foremost, with an enthusiasm for numbers (44%) ranking fourth on accountants list for skills needed within the role, followed by presentation skills (28%).

Similarly, business leaders value the same three top skills for their accountants. However, they value analytical skills (42%) more than the ability to problem-solve (39%). In addition to this, the data shows the ability to understand regulatory changes (39%) such as Making Tax Digital and being able to speak plainly (32%) as skills valued to clientele.

With only 8% of business leaders describing the relationship with their accountant as outstanding, it is clear that soft skills are just as important to clientele as more tangible skills.

By debunking these misconceptions and highlighting the true nature of the accounting profession, accountants can empower the next generation of individuals to make informed decisions about their careers.

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