Today, I just wanted to clear some misconceptions and stereotypes about accountants and accounting in general!
1) Accountants are boring
I think most people imagine accountants as, well, basically...
Haha, well all jokes aside. From my experience, I definitely know a handful of accountants who know how to have a good time (maybe too much of a good time).
Some of my fond memories when I first started out my career in accounting were all the parties the firm hosted! There were frequent events (ie. promotion parties, Christmas parties, bowling games, sports events, etc) at nice venues (ie. hotels, patios, fancy restaurants) with "open" bars. I especially appreciated the parties hosted by the firm after writing the CPA exam, before the CPA exam results came out, and the celebration brunch after the results came out for those who had passed. These CPA exam parties were wild and held casually at bars, with tickets to club hopping afterwards. Hmmm, not sure if I would say accountants are boring anymore haha.
2) Accountants need to be good at math
I get this a lot but people think accountants must be brilliant at math.
The truth of the matter is, you don't really need to know any more than basic algebra. What you DO need to be good at is understanding concepts, which goes for any profession. In particular, I would say the most important skill for an accountant is to become a problem solver for issues that businesses face.
3) Accountants work in a cubicle all day
Another misconception is that all accountants do is work in their cubicles all day. This may also be in line with people perceiving that the accounting profession is dull.
Well, first of all, cubicles have upgraded so they don't look so dark and dreary - firms have recently transitioned to the "open concept" look so it feels more light and spacious (haha).
But ALSO, accountants can be quite mobile and not be in the office all day. For example, Auditors (before the pandemic) often worked at different client sites and were hardly ever in the office. Those in tax would go to client sites, but also have the stability of having their own space in the office. Accountants also go on business trips to different parts of the city, country, and across the world!
I have personally been on a couple. It also depends on where in the world you work. I noticed that in Vancouver, there aren't too many opportunities for business trips since the firm is highly digitalized and most client demands can be met online. The culture also allows for phone calls and emails to be sufficient and acceptable, since North America is more of an individualized society.
On the other hand, when I was working in Korea for over 2 years, I would go on frequent business trips as the culture values more traditional methods of conducting business, such as in-person meetings. There was this one time where the partner and I drove one hour to and from Pangyo (city located outside of Seoul and deemed as the "Silicon Valley" of Korea) for almost two months to work at the client's site. For the same big client, we also ended up going to the Philippines, Greece, and Netherlands on a business trip! Those were some amazing times and beats working in a cubicle any day!
4) Accountants are all introverts
This is also not true! There are definitely introverts but I would say there are also an equal amount of extraverts. In fact, I would say you could get quite a diverse group of people in accounting and the field definitely requires strengths from different types of people.
For example, as a introvert, you may also be more detail orientated, conscientious, and technically strong - which are important skills to have in accountant. As an extravert, you may be more comfortable networking, talking to clients, and doing business development - which are also important skills to have as an accountant. So no matter what traits you have, there will be a unique part of your personality that makes accounting a fit for you - if you want it to be!
5) Accountants are mostly male
While it may have been the case "back in the days" that men were usually in business roles - times have changed. Whether it is in Canada or Korea, I definitely see more females around my level and new recruits consisting of more or less equal distribution of females and males.
I would say it is still not completely equal in more senior positions, like directors and partners. I think it comes down to the fact that females have more options if they decide to raise a family and put their career on hold for a while, that results in the different timelines between females and males getting promoted. But I am starting to see more females in partner positions as society embraces, normalizes, and supports families through maternity leaves, paternity leaves, and flexible hours.