When most people think about accountants, a vision of a dark room with a disheveled accountant hunched over a desk rapidly entering numbers into a calculator comes to mind.
Well, we’re here to tell you…that’s just not true.
Accounting may not be as electrifying as being a stunt artist, but it still has its thrilling moments—like the forensic accountants who took down famed mobster Al Capone for tax evasion. Now that’s exciting!
While you may find us in our offices from sunrise to sunset during tax season, we’re more than just number crunchers. That’s why we’re here to debunk five common myths about accountants.
Myth #1: Accountants are boring
We get it. Accountants are stereotyped as boring and introverted. We may be critical thinkers, but we’re far from boring. Ever heard of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger? He earned a scholarship to study accounting at the London School of Economics.
And everyone’s favorite elevator music saxophone artist, Kenny G, graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in accounting. Maybe it’s our love for numbers that influences our musical abilities, but whatever the case, we’re far from dull—even if we love a good spreadsheet now and then.
Myth #2: Accountants are only good for tax time
While many people are under the impression that accountants’ bread and butter is tax season, they fail to realize that tax returns are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many facets of accounting.
Accountants have an abundance of other duties: Preparing financial statements, creating invoices, handling payroll, ensuring federal and state regulation compliance, advisory services, and much more. Preparing tax returns is part of the job, but accountants also help their clients stay on top of their finances and assist with growth opportunities throughout the year.
Myth #3: Accountants can be replaced by technology
“I don’t need an accountant for my business—I use accounting software,” is a phrase that makes accountants cringe. Yes, some accounting applications are relatively simple to use, but you need a working knowledge of accounting or how your company operates financially. That’s where professional accountants come in.
Technology will never replace an accountant’s education, knowledge and financial experience. While automation makes its way into the financial world, it’s only improving upon certain tasks accountants do (i.e., automated payroll vs. manual entry), while providing more data to help them advise their clients (aka you).
Myth #4: Accountants are math geniuses
No, accountants don’t need calculus-level skills to do their jobs. We need to have a number-oriented mind, but we can do our job with even just the basics of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. That doesn’t mean anyone with rudimentary math skills can do our jobs; it just means that the basics are where we start.
We also have analytical and problem-solving skills to advise our clients on their businesses, along with our expertise and ability to stay current on state and federal rules, regulations and finance laws by regularly participating in continuing education.
Myth #5: Accountants love to give free tax advice
Accountants spend many hours making sure their clients conform to local, state and federal tax regulations, so the last thing they want to do is give advice out for free. Accounting takes years of education—and continuing education—to stay on top of changing tax laws.
We understand you may have what seems like simple questions about your tax returns, but without knowing your exact situation, we’d only be able to give general advice—and that would include speaking to your accountant about your specific questions. Or better yet, seek us out at the office so we can legally offer advice.
The truth about accountants
We know there are many myths or stereotypes about accountants, but most of them aren’t true. Do we love spreadsheets? Absolutely. Do we spend time crunching numbers? Yes. But we provide our clients with much more than that—we give them peace of mind.
Remember, we’re here to help not just during tax season but all year long. Invest in a good accountant to handle the numbers and advise your business in order to become—and stay—successful.
Reprinted with permission.
By Catherine Riddick, CPA, JD
XPonent Group in Westchester, Illinois