Accountants – the most interesting people in the business

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Accountants get a bad rep. In a world where seemingly everyone wants to be an actor, singer, or the next Kim Kardashian, many people think of accountancy as the ultimate boring choice.

It may surprise then, that accountancy is consistently voted one of the best professions to work in.

In 2013, LV ran a study of 5000 workers to determine the qualities that people valued the most in their job. Once they had their top ten qualities, they asked workers to rate their jobs based on each point. Who do you think came out on top?

You guessed it. Accountants.

The top benefits that accountants enjoy are job security, a good salary, reasonable work-life balance, low levels of stress and a clear path for progression – apparently the secret sauce for a happy working life.

But there are other, less obvious benefits to being an accountant too. Drumroll please.

Money, money, money

Yes, I am referring to the fact that AAT members receive a mean salary of £29,925 going up to £43,463 for directors and senior managers.

But I’m also referring to the fact that you get good with money. On a personal level, being financially literate and knowing how to manage money without anxiety can be empowering.

Accounting jobs can be amazingly interesting

Hush the naysayers – accounting jobs are exciting. They’re extremely diverse, and anything that makes money needs accountants, so you could potentially work in whatever industry you like.

You could be an entertainment accountant and work on films, plays, TV shows, albums and tours. Accountants are one of the first people to be hired on any project, and they play an integral role in the entertainment industry.

If you’ve always wanted to work in showbiz but don’t have the disregard for personal privacy that it takes to make it big, this is for you.

In a similar vein, you could be a sports accountant and work with your favourite teams.

All good accountants abide by professional ethics but if social justice is a motivator for you, just look at forensic accountants, who are basically crime scene investigators without all the blood and guts. As a forensic accountant, you get to find clues, catch bad guys and testify in court, so you can work with numbers while living out your CSI: Miami dreams.

Last but certainly not least, you could work your way to the top and become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), who often has as much authority as a CEO and comparable salary – somewhere in the £100,000 range, according to Robert Half. Financial Director recently reported the salaries of top CFOs, and they’re in the multi-millions.

Not bad for a number cruncher.

You don’t actually have to be that good at maths

Of course some people who study accountancy do so because they love maths, and of course being confident working with numbers is a must for accountants.

But the difficulty of the maths involved in accountancy is often grossly exaggerated – accounting generally doesn’t involve quadratic equations, calculus, or anything else you learned and promptly forgot in high school.

You need a good grip on whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, order of operations, exponents and some general algebra, but the rest is usually done through spreadsheets and computer programmes.

While you won’t need to do the calculations, you will need to be confident setting up and inputting the data, skills you’ll be taught while studying.

It hones your business acumen

They say that nothing’s certain but death and taxes, and the certainty of taxes is one of many reasons why qualified accountants are integral to every company.

As an accountant you really will be at the heart of the business, and as such you’ll be perfectly positioned to observe the inner workings of the company. Accountants are taking a greater role in shaping corporate responsibility, ethical decision making and business development strategy for their clients.

Accountants now also play an integral role in advising on human resource policy particularly with the impact of legislative changes in areas such as auto-enrolment and shared parental leave. The challenge of today’s accountant is to be able to effectively advise her client about how to grow a business, not just fill in a tax return.

That leads on to a final point: not only can you rise to the top by studying accountancy, it’s actually the best route to becoming a CEO. More than half of FTSE 100 CEOs have a background in accounting and finance.

Still think accountancy’s boring?

Lauren Jack is a content writer for ICS Learn.

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