Are accountants creative creatures?

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Is there much creativity in accounting? No, not *that kind* of creativity.

Of course we’re not talking euphemistically about being creative with the figures. We’re talking proper, conceptual, bigger-picture creativity. Yes accountants do have a creative flair, and you probably are more creative than you realise…

Left and right brain thinking

Most of us are vaguely familiar with the right left brain theory of neurology: The left side of the brain being the side that deals with logical, numerical, problem solving, while the right is the realm of conceptual and artistic thinking. It is therefore said if you are a more of a left brain thinker, you are better suited to a career such as accountancy. Of course, this theory is more complex in detail, and like the idea that we only use 10% of our brains overall, the left vs right idea is largely an exaggerated myth.

With that in mind, could it be that accounting involves more use of our right brain thinking than we, erm, think? And are, or should, accountants be creative?

The answer to both is, of course, yes. In fact, it is said that logical thinkers with strong mathematical skills like accountants are using both sides of the brain to complement one another.

It’s also true that the accounting profession needs an injection of creative thinking. A singular focus on compliance and financial reporting may actually prevent making good business decisions, and business owners prefer a more holistic outlook.

Creativity matters

We’ve already discussed what makes accountants the most important people in a business, and much of this relies on them being able to see the bigger picture within the company, and yes, think creatively.

Which means not living up to the old stereotype of the stuffy, finger shaking accountant putting the stops on radical new ideas for growth, as ‘the books’ say the risk can’t be afforded. Of course, your role as an accountant is to ensure the financial health of a company. However, while a good accountant discourages recklessness, they also understand the value of taking calculated risks, and help the business to bring these pie in the sky ideas to practical (and affordable) fruition. To see the possibilities an idea may have, you have to have the perceptiveness of a creative entrepreneurial mind.

If you are an accountant with your own practice, creativity also plays a big part in forging your business. You have to design and create your marketing materials, social media profiles, website, office space, and everything that forms part of your brand identity.

Another way that accountants need to think differently is when presenting financial information to clients. To be able to show and tell clients who aren’t themselves ‘left brain thinkers’ requires you to think a little differently when putting together financial reports.

So while you are adept with numbers and your brain is a library of compliance procedures, remember your creative edge, as that might be what makes you an even better accountant.

Kayleigh Ziolo is a freelance journalist and writer based in Ireland.

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