Why does one become an accountant? 

The Irish Institute believes that their members become accountants to “lead in business”.  In England and Wales accountants are a “force for change”, whereas the motivation to become a management accountant, CIMA is to “drive organisations forward”.

One of my favourites comes from the Scottish Institute: “to have a rewarding career in business and beyond”. I am impressed by the ‘and beyond’ here. It is poetic but I am not sure what it really means: beyond where or beyond what?

The ACCA, Association of Certified Chartered Accountants are into driving. They not only ‘drive change in the accounting sector’ but their accountants ‘have the strategic thinking, technical skills and professional values to drive their organisations forward.’  A classic in car imagery!

I suppose this is what the accounting bodies call marketing. Make it lively with lots of decision words: lead, drive, force, change and marvellous adjectives: rewarding, interesting, exciting, best. And then simply include a few catch phrases.

But no accountant chooses their profession for these lofty reasons, at least I have never found one and I certainly didn’t either. Or if they did, they would come to earth with a bump in a few days after joining.

Perhaps the real reasons come from CPAs in the USA. The recorded reasons are mundane and down to earth, not the airy fairy reasoning from the UK. For instance, the NASBA in the USA, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy give the “top five reasons to become a CPA” as 1) Prestige and respect, 2) Career development, 3) Career security, 4) Job satisfaction and 5) Money and benefits. You cannot get more basic as that.

But nearly all the accounting institutes and associations worldwide agree on travel as motivation to become an accountant. Scottish accountants boast that 14% of their members work outside Scotland. That will surely encourage the young to join the profession. In Ireland they use the word global to explain their diversity as in ‘global career recognition’. The Certified Accountants prefer “all over the world” which is precise and clear. In England their members work “across 190 countries.” Now I have worked IN several countries, I have never worked ACROSS them. I have no idea how to work accross countries or what that means precisely.

There is also agreement on the use of superlatives to compete for the best jobs. In Scotland accountants are on the “fast track to unlock some of the most powerful and rewarding positions”. In England and Wales they pursue “the most interesting and rewarding opportunities”. In Ireland they only have “exciting career opportunities”. Accountants in the CIPFA “enjoy working in public services and making a difference to society”. Not quite as excessive.

The ACCA have “the best and most interesting roles”. In the USA, CPAs are “respected and admired by their peers, clients and the general population” and are “viewed as an elite group of professionals.”

The AIA, the Association of International Accountants are equal last in their bid for competition for the best jobs. Their accountants merely “boost their credibility” and help to achieve their “professional goals” whatever they might be.  Members of CIMA, join them in last place where they claim their“opportunities are as open-ended as you want them to be”.