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 I experience on a day-to-day basis. 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 Knows How to 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. My favorite example of this is an auditor friend who was asked to do all his friends’ tax returns. What did he do? Charged them each $200 and bought turbo tax to perform their returns.
4) Technology is Eating Up the Accounting 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. Public accounting firms hired a record number of college grads in 2012 (40,350) and expect those numbers to remain constant or even go up. Not to mention you see accounting on most “in-demand” careers lists that float around the internet.
5) Accounting is a Male Dominated Field
60% of all accountants and auditors in the US are female, and 50% in Canada. That number declines significantly when it comes to partners at public accounting firms, where women only represent 18% of the total partners in the US. 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 yearend return, but don’t ask them to help you file a 10-K. 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-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.
Bonus: Did you know there’s an Accounting Hall of Fame?
I’ve passed it plenty of times, it’s at my alma mater, The Ohio State University. Little did I know all that time I spent studying for midterms and exams the Cooperstown of accounting was right next door.Buffer