The Yeti and Other Myths (Including Some About Accountants)

The Yeti, or Sasquatch is actually a story originating from ancient Himalayan mythology (fun fact that you can use to impress your friends). Whether or not the Abominable Snowman actually exists is up for discussion in forums, coffee houses and random YouTube clips of guys in the woods running around in brown bear suits.  And like the Yeti, there are many myths about accountants – most of which we’re going to debunk today.

Myths About Accountants
Myth 1: Accountants Don’t Contribute to Innovation
One unflattering myth is that accountants are numbers people, not ideas people.  But here’s the thing – numbers are used to drive decision making, including whether or not to pursue an innovative concept. Consider, as well, that there have been accountants who have become highly successful entrepreneurs, or who have transitioned from accounting to savvy start-ups and facilitated their success. Read this interview with Greg Twinney, former CFO/COO of Kobo, Inc. as an example.

Myth 2: Accountants Don’t Invest in Social Change
Accountants are interested in social change and many hold strong social justice values.  Accountants work in the non-profit sector as employees, or in a volunteer capacity, often on a Board of Directors, providing key insights to help the non-profit achieve its organizational goals. Alison Spitzer, a CA and former employee of KPMG, is an example of an accountant whose core values facilitated a transition to the socially conscious non-profit Me to We and then to Cancer Care Ontario.  She says that she is, “happiest when I am working in something that intrinsically gives more to the community.”  To Spitzer, the chance to work for an organization that makes a true difference has increased her job satisfaction, while still challenging her growth.

Myth 3: Accountants Wear Pocket Protectors
Ok, that’s not the whole myth. The myth that we’re referencing is that accountants are nerds. Accounting has a reputation as being dry number crunching, with the people who do it as being risk adverse or boring.  But there’s another way to see this. Accountants are playing an increasingly important role in shaping public policy and opinion.  As governments consider increasing environmental concerns for example, the numbers behind the policy become increasingly important (think carbon taxes or cap and trade).  This makes accounting a lot more than just simple number crunching.

Myth 4: Accountants Aren’t Involved in the Core Business
There’s a belief that accountants aren’t involved in the company’s vision or operational functions. But in actuality, this is not the case as accountants today become increasingly involved in business operations, offering advice to help with strategic direction. They take their ability to transform theoretical goals into a sustainable business model, developing suggestions for best practices and building the business.

Don’t be tricked by the guy in the fuzzy suit.  Myths abound in every profession. Accountants are doing work that helps inform innovation. They are involved in social justice and shaping core business strategy.  Accountants today need to be strong communicators, cross-functional collaborators and advisors to key decision makers. Such a job description does not come with a pocket protector.

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