It’s one of the most enduring stereotypes in the business world: ever since the days of Monty Python’s Lion Tamer sketch, accountancy has become a byword for dull, straight-laced stuffiness. But now the grey men are fighting back: an indignant survey reports that accountants are actually a lot more dynamic, tech-savvy and generally ‘down with the kids’ than everyone makes them out to be. And if you don’t believe them, they’ve got the spreadsheets to prove it…
The report, from tax and accountancy information provider CCH, ‘exposes the gulf’ between people’s perception of accountants and the reality – or at least, the reality according to accountants. Take technology: just 28% of the public surveyed thought accountancy was a dynamic profession embracing new technologies, whereas 53% of accountants think their profession is the height of tech-savviness. Indeed, so achingly hip are accountants that a staggering 74% can use an iPod – miles more than the public’s guess of just 59%!
What’s more, accountants are also ‘down’ with social networking sites: 58% are apparently regular users (compared to the public perception of 44%). CCH reckons accountants are 50% more likely to have a Facebook profile than the average punter – 60% of those under 35 have a page, compared to the national average of 23%. Even if we ignore the inevitable socio-economic bias in that statistic, we’re not totally sure whether this proves that they’re cool, or the direct opposite (although it does go a long way towards explaining the existence of a 12,000-strong Facebook group called ‘Accountants are Sexy’).
According to CCH, this marvellous embrace of new technologies is proof positive of a new, dynamic younger generation of accountants, who are ‘breathing new life into the profession’. And as such, their enduring reputation for terminal tediousness is wholly undeserved. ‘Even in these hyper PC times, it seems that accountants are still unfairly viewed as being behind the times,’ laments CCH executive director Martin Casimir.
On the other hand, we can’t help feeling that life could be a lot worse for these poor accountants – after all, they could be bankers. In the Monty Python sketch, accountant Michael Palin initially jumps at the idea of working his way up to lion taming via banking: ‘That’s a man’s life, isn’t it?’ he exclaims. ‘Travel, excitement, adventure, thrills, decisions affecting people’s lives…’ Prophetic words – and it explains exactly why bankers are currently a hell of a lot more unpopular than accountants have ever been...
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