Being an Accountant – Musings & Misconceptions

This is from the “Accounting Makes Cents” podcast episode #12 released on Monday, 2 May 2022.


In today’s episode, we will be discussing topics related to being more than just an accountant. I’ll try and address some odd misconceptions about accountants that I’ve encountered through the years. And I also want to just throw some musings and thoughts out there about being an accountant. This is a bit of a break on technical topics and exam-related topics that we’ve been covering for a while now, but definitely this is still accounting-related and accounting-focused.

Jump to show notes.

Musing: Simu Liu and Deloitte

I actually just wanted to start off with something that started this whole idea in my head. I was on LinkedIn sometime ago and read a post that somebody shared with regards to Simu Liu. Now if you are not quite familiar with Simu Liu, he is a Canadian actor, most famously known for portraying Shang-Chi in a Marvel movie. Now, you might have already seen this post floating around in social media. I’ll link Simu’s post on the show notes, if you haven’t seen it. Anyway, in that post, Simu Liu shared an incident that happened to him a decade ago. So Simu Liu studied to be an accountant and as he puts it, it wasn’t really the career for him. According to his post, 10 years ago, on April 12, he lost his job at Deloitte. And of course, after that happened, he had to reassess his life, regroup and eventually decided to start another career, this time as an actor. To put it shortly, we got a Marvel movie out of this towards the end of that decade. And no diss to anybody, he’s very thankful for that life-changing event, which obviously has put him on the right path or a different path than the one that he was on, one that he enjoys more now. He seems very happy so I’d say that this was a good thing. So respect, man!

That post kinda got me thinking about a lot of the things that people seem to think about accountants. There are some misconceptions about accountants that seem to be prevalent in most interactions, and I just want to kinda put it out there. These are, of course, just my 2 cents on the matter. And I just wanted to share them.

Misconception: All accountants are math geniuses

So one of the most common misconceptions about accountants is that we are good at mathematics. I’d say that because we work with numbers, we are more inclined to be quick with regards to basic arithmetic. We can do addition, subtraction, multiplication even, you know, that kind of thing. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re aces in math, because math covers algebra, trigonometry, geometry as well. Like all things, there are different branches in mathematics, the same as accounting. Working with numbers as I mentioned, definitely makes your mind sharper when it comes to simple mathematics. But yeah, definitely, not math geniuses at work here.

Misconception: All accountants can do your taxes

Talking about branches, I wanted to actually note this as well. A very, very common misconception, rivalling the math one, is the one that starts off with “so you can do taxes”. I find a lot of people synonymously think about accounting and taxes as something of the same thing. They would ask me about tax advice or tax law or rules. Now, I will admit, most accountants do understand tax at some level. We can look up the particular rule or law to see how it can be applied, how it works. However, I would probably refrain from advising anybody. I generally don’t advise people on tax matters because I do not classify myself as a tax expert. Not all accountants are tax accountants.  Speciality comes into play here. Similar to doctors, if you have a problem with your eyes and you go see your GP about it, he/she will likely recommend you to go to an optometrist to have it looked at. If you need glasses, these are normally prescribed to you by your optometrist rather than anybody else. So it’s the same with accountants. There are many kinds of accountants, and most company accountants deal with transaction recording, classification, accounting processes, reconciliations, sometimes even payroll and other things, and yes, sometimes tax too, all related to the company they work for. But I will say that if you want tax advice, then you need to go to a tax accountant or a tax adviser, as an accountant doesn’t necessarily make one a tax expert.

Musing: Accountants perform work that are more than just accounting

An exploration of accountants duties and responsibilities is that it encompasses way more than just the numbers and results of the company. It also involves managing and implementing processes to ensure the company runs smoothly and correctly. It also involves managing a team which ultimately works toward the goals of the company. And there are many ways that you use your skills. You don’t need to be in the company doing accountant things. You could be working in recruiting sectors, some are in the education space like myself, and others are in auditing, in forensic, in municipalities, etc. etc. and so on and so forth. The list just goes on.

Musing: What if accounting is not for you?

Anyways, to end off, I’d like to go back to the Simu Liu post. I just wanted to add a little bit to that. Having me talk about accountants and address some of the misconceptions, I hope I am coming across as someone who wants to be here. But having said this, I also wanted to add that it’s not uncommon for someone who’s on the accounting track to realise that this is not the path for them. It happens more often than we think, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing with regards the person or the profession. Having once studied to be an accountant should not restrict you from pursuing other interests, and if those interests turn out to be much stronger than accounting, then all the best. I mean, Simu Liu did not stop being an accountant, just because he’s an actor now. He didn’t lose his ability to count or understand debits and credits. He just chose a different path, one that didn’t involve a lot of ledgers and accounts. So as a final note to impart, don’t be afraid to try other things, and if you ever feel the Simu Liu effect of “maybe this is not the career for you”, try not to feel any less. People are different and I want accounting students to know that it’s okay if this is not your thing. Accountants are great but doing what you love is the best. I actually think one is truly blessed if you are able to pursue many of your dreams, however improbable they may seem at the moment.

So before I get too carried away, I guess I’ll end this episode off here. I hope my musings today weren’t too whimsical. And if you are feeling the Simu Liu effect, know that you are not alone.


Show notes simplified

In this episode, MJ the tutor takes a break from all things accounting…but just can’t seem to get away. She discusses some of the musings and misconceptions about being an accountant.

Resources and links from this episode:
Simu Liu’s post on Twitter

Credits:
“Ding Ding Small Bell” (https://freesound.org/s/173932/) by JohnsonBrandEditing (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1RImxnsbfngagfXd_GWCDQ) licensed under CC0 Licence.

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