By Monica Wangechi Wamuchiru
Demystifying the Accountant
Various professions are associated with certain theories about the character of the people of a certain profession, and our accounting profession has certainly not been left behind. So are they true? If yes/no, to what extent? Let’s interrogate some of these popular opinions about the character traits of accountants:
There is a general implication that accountants are the most selfish people on the planet. Is this really our attitude to money and wealth at corporate and individual level? On a light note, this misconception perhaps makes us a very unattractive lot even to other people who would like to forge relationships at a personal level.
So what is the fact, a miser is a person who hoards wealth. Perhaps the role of an accountant in an organization may put them in conflict with other departments that are generally cost centers such as marketing, and as the accountant attempts to prevent a huge budget versus actual variance due to spending above, then he/she may end up being the ‘miser’ in other people’s view. The flip side is true though, when it is time to pay, we pay a whole lot. The trick is to establish a balance; otherwise why should you watch your organization run into brokenness in your tenure?
At a personal level, accountants are probably the people who buy impulsively (especially ladies) because they’d rather not keep books for their personal finances as well. I mean, nobody wants to be engrossed in Excel Sheets day and night.
This is a common misconception that all accountants are introverts and worse, still, boring. Perhaps this is because of the nature of the job requiring that a person is on their desk for long hours and has their mind engrossed on the monitor for hours. The fact is, we are very diverse, some introvert and some extroverts. Some of us make the office fun to be in with our charming conversations and verbal engagements with everyone while others are less talkative. Research, however, states that majority of accountants are introverts which from an HR point of view, is a good job- character match. Nonetheless, I believe that in the current job market, accountants should be very bold and outgoing to be able to build the kind of network necessary to give them a competitive edge.
There are countless times that I have introduced myself as an accountant and people respond by saying, ‘mtu wa pesa’ translated to mean, ‘the guy with the money’. Accounting for money is not equivalent to owning the money. As a matter of fact, it is sometimes frustrating to account for large sums of money, or handle petty cash in hundreds of thousands of shillings on a daily basis yet not being able to afford it Having stated the above, I am not saying that accountants should not dream big, actually, the sky is not even the limit. We have great potential to create wealth exponentially, after all, who understands how money works more than us? Therefore, please take it easy on all your accountant friends when it comes to footing the bills.
Accountants Are Extremely Good In Math
Truth is, we are not all extremely good at Math- It is not a prerequisite to join the profession. Sure, being great at Math and a good grasp in Math goes a long way and makes your work easier, but the fact is even a person who is not a Math genius shall be able to do all the accounting there is. Furthermore, technology has made it very easy. There are great accounting systems and all a person needs is a good understanding of accounting principles and continual skill development. That is the trick, continuous development through training and experience creates better accountants than a natural born Math genius who thinks he’s got it all.
Being a workaholic is a personal decision, it’s not a professional thing. Yes, you may find most accountants still in the office on the 8th or 9th of every month or on the 19th of every month, but this is just to beat tax deadlines. Sometimes, we need the extra hours just so that the balance sheet may balance, but this does not mean we are workaholics. Actually, most accountants have the best work life balance; we work mostly during regular hours of the day. Therefore, don’t fret when your accountant friends tell you they are working late, they probably just need to beat a deadline and when it’s over, they’ll be all yours. Not Creative (hope you see the word play) Most people think we are not creative, but have you really interacted with us? There’s this joke that goes around;
Accountants aren’t supposed to be creative… Who says? The Kenya Revenue Authority.
Yes, we don’t engage in creative accounting, but confront me with a life challenge and you will see how far our creativity goes.
Accountants are encouraged to get a hobby, I mean, after work attend music classes, learn to play a music
instrument, take part in an art class. Watch as the quality of your life improves drastically. You’ll thank me
Accountants have the innate potential to make great leaders. Let’s evaluate just 2 of their strengths and see
whether this is true:
• They are interested in the details
• They are very analytical
A leader should not make blanket decisions without being keen on all the factors at play. This keen interest
to all the details makes accountants excellent in leadership – especially business leadership. How can critical decisions be made without strong basis? An analysis of potential outcome for each decision is
key for any leader. An accountant is hired to do exactly this, even better, they are able to quantify everything – each factor, each decision and present this information in a simplified and easy to interpret manner.
How then can anyone claim that accountants don’t make good leaders? I love my profession, I couldn’t choose any differently given a chance to start again. Accountants are awesome people!
Cheers to that!