The 10 best accountancy books for 2020

Christmas is often a season of novelty presents. Why not make New Years the time for getting yourself a gift that will stimulate your brain, generate some new ideas, and possibly make you wealthier in 2020?

Step forward our list of the best financial and accounting books for 2020, hand-picked by our experts. So, if you are stuck for present ideas for friends or colleagues who are interested in finance, or you simply want a present for yourself, read on:

1. The AI Economy: Work, Wealth and Welfare in the Robot Age by Roger Bootle of Capital Economics

“This is an interesting book on the artificial intelligence revolution that will affect the way we work, are educated and spend our leisure time,” says Ben Faulkner, Communications Director of ethical wealth management firm EQ Investors. “There are plenty of thought-provoking ideas and it is well worth a read,” he adds. Given that AI is going to have a significant impact on service industries, including accountancy, reading this could help you think about how to future-proof your career.

2. Emergent by Mieke Jacobs and Paul Zonneveld

This book looks at why mergers and acquisitions succeed or fail. An estimated 70 to 90 per cent of all M&As fail worldwide. KPMG’s global research report on M&As reveals that only 17 per cent of merger deals boosted shareholder return. As both M&A deal activity and deal size will continue to increase in the years to come, and accountants have their part to play, what does this mean to companies and professionals in the future?

3. Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street by Andrew Ross Sorkin

Greg Cox, founder of the Fintech company Quint Group, suggests this enthralling account of the most powerful men and women at the eye of the financial storm and the Lehman Brothers debacle. There are plenty of lessons to be learned about the financial structure of large companies and how to manage risk. His other top picks include Straight from the Gut by Jack Welsh and Good to Great by Jim Collins.

4. Broken Business by José Hernandez

The book analyses how good companies go bad – from the dangers of superstar managers to the ‘one bad apple’ myth – and reveals ideas for reform. A great read for anyone who is interested in the figures behind the headlines, and what happens at a granular level to the finances of a broken company.

5. Basic Accounting by Nishat Azmat & Andy Lymer

This is an entry-level accounting manual which covers PAYE, cashflow statements, accounting for share capital, accounting standards and non-financial reporting. It is ideal for first- level accounting students. Each topic is explained in a clear and concise manner with examples and diagrams. If you are starting out with the AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting or Bookkeeping, this will give you a basic grounding.

6. Financial Shenanigans by Howard Schilit, Jeremy Perler & Yoni Englehart

This classic accounting guide lays bare the greatest frauds and financial reporting scandals of the last quarter of a century and highlights how to spot dishonest corporate cultures, the tricks companies use to flatter revenue and earnings, and how acquisitions can be used to hide the underlying weakness of a business.

7. Management and Cost Accounting by Colin Drury

If you are studying for an AAT advanced level qualification you will already be familiar with this book as it looks at management accounting in great detail. An important book if you are studying, or you want to refresh your knowledge.

8. The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

This book is about US millionaires, including a discussion on how they got to be millionaires. “It was the first book to discredit the common notion that millionaires always have luxury cars, designer clothes and giant mansions,” says Samuel Leach, Director of Samuel and Co Trading, entrepreneur, TED speaker and investor. It analyses the behaviour and habits of millionaires to show how they save, spend and invest money.

9. Simple Tips Smart Ideas by Erica Wolfe Murray

This is a 5 star rated business book and the author has been named the leading female business expert by Forbes. It includes an array of ideas, tips and contemporary case studies to help you think about how to kick-start growth, build commercial resilience and face competitive pressures when you are setting up, running, or growing your own business. If you want to give your practice a head-start in 2020, you could do worse than implement some of her business suggestions.

10. The Big Short

If you would rather watch a film to stimulate some new ideas, then James Brent, Senior Director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, suggests “The Big Short” about the financial crash in 2008. If you want to find out more in print, then The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine is a non-fiction book by Michael Lewis on the same theme.

Don’t forget if you want to stretch your brain even further in your spare time, then there’s a wealth of e-learning modules on tax, financial reporting, payroll and other relevant subjects on the AAT website or AAT Comment.

Further reading:

Marianne Curphey is an award-winning financial writer and columnist, and author of the book How Money Works. She worked as City Editor at The Guardian, deputy editor of Guardian online, and has worked for The Times, Telegraph and BBC.

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