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Accounting has certain stereotypes & myths I would like to clear up and shed some light on.
1. Accounting was Discovered by some Nerdy Guy with a Pocket Protector.
Accounting was actually discovered by Luca Pacioli, an Italian Monk. He’s commonly referred to as the “Father of Accounting.” Pacioli founded what’s referred to as “double-entry accounting” in 1494. His first accounts detailed the early systems used be Venetian Merchants for “accounts receivables” and “inventories” utilizing “journals” and “ledgers.” Pacioli uncovered principles and methods which are still used in our financial world on a daily basis.
2. Accountants are Good at Math
This is one of the biggest fallacies. You know who’s good at math? Mathematicians. Oh and engineers and computer programmers. Accountants are forced to work within regulatory guidance and act as lawyers more often than they are practicing math nerds. They’re essentially lawyers who use numbers. While being good at addition, subtraction and basic algebra is a prerequisite for accounting (and life overall), not all accountants are good at math.
3. Every Accountant Can Do Your Taxes
Every accountant has been asked to do a friend’s tax return. Accountants are not the same as auditors, auditors are not the same as tax accountants. While we all have an understanding of accounting principles, the majority of accountants are in no way qualified to do your taxes or give anyone tax advice.
Software such as Turbo Tax has helped in this area!
4. Technology is Killing the Profession
Technology is certainly adding another layer of complexity to the life of accountants, but it will be a long time before technology totally eliminates the need for their positions.
5. Accounting is a Male Dominated Field
50% of all accountants and auditors in Canada are female, and 60% in the U.S. That number declines significantly when it comes to partners at public accounting firms, where women only represent 18% of the total partners in the U.S. Is the reason glass ceiling or motherhood? No matter the answer, that number seems to be much lower than you’d expect.
6. Auditors = Tax Accountants = Bookkeepers = Corporate Accountants
Going back to an earlier point about how all accountants don’t know how to do your taxes or which deductions you should take. The job of auditors is largely comprised of statistical sampling and regulatory guidance. Auditors don’t actually “account” for anything. Tax accountants can help you with deductions and perform your year-end return. Bookkeepers typically account or keep track of financial transactions for small businesses, and corporate accountants do the same on a much larger, more complex scale. But please, don’t treat us all the same.
7. Your Business Doesn't Need an Accountant
Said every failed business owner ever. The fact is, having a full or part time internal or external accountant can save you much future heartburn. An accountant will help organize your finances in a timely fashion, allowing you to make good financial decisions and take advantage of opportunities for growth. Not to mention, they’ll make your life a lot easier around tax time.
8. Accountants are Boring
Think again, check out this list of people who studied accounting or were actually accountants:
Call Chuck Liddell boring and he’ll probably kick your ass.
9. Accountants Just....Accountant For... Things
By now you should know that there are several different types of accountants. And not all of them count widgets everyday.
10. Accountants Like It When You Make Fun of Them
They hate it, but for some reason every one seems to thinks accountants are the masochists of the professional world. We just work hard and don’t complain. So next time you have something mean to say go pick on the engineers, HR, the ops team, anybody but the accountants. Otherwise the reports you use to make all those important “business decisions” may be written in crayon next time.
There you have it, 10 myths about accounting. Hopefully next time you’ll re-think your decision to ask your “accountant friend” to do your taxes. Because he/she probably knows as much about taxes as you do.
For other blogs by Your Numbers Guy you can find the list on our blog summary page.