Accountants are cool and we have the, er, figures to prove it

accawebmaster —  17 March 2011 — 3 Comments

By Manos Schizas, senior policy advisor, ACCA

I’m a little miffed by BPP and CityAM's suggestion, in today's (Thursday’s) issue, that the accounting profession is not as creative as other occupations. The offending passage reads:

"People from [creative] industries tend to think in different ways to those from the City, and to be more open to new ideas. This can be a revelation for those from, shall we say, less flexible industries. “Even accountants from advertising companies are more creative than accountants from banks,” [BPP’s director of MBA, Kate] Best says. For them, using art or philosophy in class is not odd at all."

Even accountants? Why, that must be the depth of square-dom! We wince on behalf of the membership when we read or hear anecdotes like this day in and day out but this is where we draw the line. In fact, we're so upset we're willing to give away some early unpublished data.

This quarter we beefed up our Global Economic Conditions Survey, the largest quarterly survey of professional accountants in the world, to include a range of questions on the diverse backgrounds and skills of our membership.

We gave members the option to opt out of these questions as they are understandably a little intrusive and we've also promised not to use any of the answers we got in targeted communications. With these reassurances in place, over 75 per cent of our massive 2,360-strong sample opted to take the Diversity Survey. We won't give it all away here, but as it happens we did try to seek out the artists among them.

Of our members, 1 in 7 (14 per cent) claimed to have performed artistically for, or exhibited an artistic creation to, a large audience. How well does that compare with the general population?

And lest we forget, the great Damien Hirst, whose photo graces CityAM's feature, owes most of his fame and fortune to an accountant, as he freely admits:

A pivotal figure in Hirst’s rise was Jay Jopling, the old Etonian art dealer who runs the White Cube gallery, says the Evening Standard. But the real 'mastermind behind his transformation to global brand' was Frank Dunphy, an accountant 'on the seamier side of showbiz'.

"Hirst credits Dunphy, 69, for getting him off the booze and setting him free financially. “Before he came along [12 years ago], I was like a punk, really. I didn’t care about money. Or I pretended not to care. He got me over the fear.” 

So yeah, that's accountants for you. Some create art, some help create artists. Want more? Well, nearly a third of the sample takes part in competitive-level sporting events. Oh, and our membership can also collectively predict GDP growth figures across the developed world

Who's not so creative now?

*tongue removed from cheek*


3 responses to Accountants are cool and we have the, er, figures to prove it

    Rachel Kasumba 21 April 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Manos, being a fellow accountant, I agree with you. However, to a “lay man”, most accountants, and you may/may not agree are still stuck in traditional accounting that is more concerned with facts and figures – which is very black and white – and this approach, to a casual observer, creates the impression of a lack of creativity on the part of the accountants to want to look beyond the numbers and support documents.
    Hence, we the accountants need to educate the public about the fact that our services have involved beyond being just mere bean counters or for those senior among us, signing/approving expenses.
    The onus is on us! Let’s get to work – maybe then, the profession will regain the respect it deserves. Otherwise, we risk being disregarded as too simplistic and eventually done away with.


    There is still a long way for the profession to go on this and some parts are moving quicker than others.
    As a naturally conservative bunch accountants do tend to shy from creativity, more often than not it has to be put there or taught once qualified.
    To become more creative it’s helpful to have worked with creative people. In essence one could judge an accountant by his or her five best employer’s or clients. We tend to find the more dynamic and creative that network, the more creative and dynamic the accountant.


    Accountants have a public image of being boring. However as accountants we need to get out there and show some personality and creativity.
    I agree with Rachel. The onus is on us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s