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Public Sees Accountants As Trusted Advisors

Public Sees Accountants As Desirable, Even If They Are Bean Counters

Professional stereotypes about the Accountants are alive and kicking, with a new global survey from Xero revealing that the average member of the public most commonly associates accountants as suit-wearing “number crunchers” or “bean counters.” At the same time, the survey revealed that accountants are likely to be seen as a vital part of any business, with the majority of respondents from all markets surveyed (58 percent) viewing them as trusted advisors.

As an accountant committed to running my practice from anywhere in the world, there are days I might wear a cardigan, but the days I’m wearing a snowsuit, bathing suit or business suit are equally likely. It’s unfortunate that folks equate accounting with math. Sure there are numbers in accounting, but there is just as much technology and creative planning. Being an accountant in the age of cloud technology, machine learning, and AI means the numbers and the strength of the stories those numbers tell is not just beautiful, it’s magical.

The research from Xero looks at perceptions of accountants among 3,500 respondents in the U.S. uncovered a number of insights about people’s understanding of the professions. The number-crunching stereotype, shared by 78 percent of global respondents (and 81 percent of U.S. respondents), underpin the intimate involvement and knowledge that accountants have of a business’s financials and the important role they play in any business.

The public might not think of accountants as creative people, but creativity is quickly becoming one of the most important traits in the accounting profession. That’s because new technology has reduced or fully automated the tedious tasks, such as data entry and consolidations that gave accountants a reputation for being “bean counters. Rather than dwell in the past, we can now focus on the future. We can spend more time being advisors–empowering business owners while helping them understand their finances. Or we can focus our efforts on implementing new accounting technology solutions to improve efficiency and drive profits to the bottom line.”

Swiping Right For Accountants

Before cloud technology, more time was spent on the numbers–drowning in spreadsheets to come up with the answers that clients needed. The technology available today has broken down some of the walls confining the accounting profession. With time freed up to be more creative and hands-on, accountants can work with clients in real-time on the solutions that will drive results for the business. Now, accountants are considered vital to business not just because they are keeping the numbers in order, but because they can provide meaningful insights that enable businesses to thrive.

Awareness of the Accountants Job Function is Low

Respondents globally have a strong understanding of what an accountant does. Across all regions, respondents are almost three times more likely to have no idea what an Accountants’s job entails compared to that of a lawyer. U.S. citizens are the most aware of what an Accountants job entails with only one in five respondents (19 percent) having no idea.

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