Happy International Accounting Day! Today, businesses around the world celebrate the accountants who keep their finances in order and we’re celebrating our members, a group of tax and accounting professionals who have gone above and beyond in the last 12 months.
We celebrate International Accounting Day on 10 November each year, because on this day in 1494, Luca Pacioli, an Italian accountant and mathematician, who reportedly collaborated with Leonardo Da Vinci, published his first book.
In this book, Pacioli included the first written account of double-entry bookkeeping, which had been in use for many years. Pacioli’s description of double-entry bookkeeping changed the face of accounting and it’s still used today.
But accounting dates back much further than Pacioli, and has evolved as a profession, alongside the businesses and business owners it supports. So in honour of International Accountants Day, we rounded up 5 of our favourite things about the accounting profession.
Leaving a mark on history
Accounting as a profession dates back to the ancient world, and the oldest surviving example of written language comes to us from an ancient accountant, living and working around 5,000 years ago. Written in Sumerian cuneiform, it reads:
"A total of 29,086 measures of barley were received over the course of 37 months. Signed, Kushim."
While some accounting and bookkeeping may seem a bit humdrum, this day-to-day work makes its mark on not just the world we live in today, but our history and our future.
Working outside the box
Tax returns, client consultation and paperwork are an important part of a career in accounting. But for those with an appetite for excitement, the world of accounting and tax is a broad, varied place.
Accountants are employed in all types of fields. Some notable examples of accountants working outside the box include:
- A reported 2,000 accountants working for the FBI, helping to solve white collar crimes with forensic accounting, investigative accounting, and auditing. A famous example – notorious gangster Al Capone was eventually brought in on tax evasion charges.
- The team of accountants, who since 1935, have been entrusted in counting Academy Award ballots before the Oscars each year, putting their skill for attention to detail and objectivity to good use
- Walter Diemar, the accountant who developed the modern recipe for bubblegum while working at a chewing gum factory.
Left-brain right-brain cooperation
Think accounting is a job for the left-brain only? Think again! While accounting does involve some serious math skills, a lot of what makes a great accountant is being able to creatively analyse and solve complex problems.
As Todd Sampson said at The Tax Summit recently, “You know that dichotomy that says there are creative people and there are others? There are creative people and there are accountants? That is a false dichotomy.”
“Creativity is about mental flexibility, about the ability to look at a problem from multiple perspectives. And I know many accountants who are excellent at that. They can identify a problem and solve it from multiple perspectives.”
If you need more proof, some famous creatives who trained in accounting include Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, comedian Eddie Izzard and author John Grisham.
Safeguarding our business community
Over the past two years or so, accountants have led the charge in getting our small business community through the financial impact of COVID-19. Aussies made just over 8.17 million applications for JobKeeper, backed up by the accountants and tax specialists who navigated the tricky guidelines and application process. That’s without even mentioning other support measures, plus regular tax time duties!
From Kushim keeping track of barley 5,000 years ago, to today’s accounting professionals navigating the economics of a pandemic, accountants continue to play an important role in our society.
Growing, evolving and achieving
Last but not least, we’re excited by the future potential of the tax and accounting profession and everyone in it!
A CommBank report this year found that of 83% of accounting firms are planning to increase at least one level of staff over the next 12 months to manage an uplift in demand. And with professionals including Accountants (General, Taxation and Management), External and Internal Auditors now on the Government’s Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List, it’s safe to say the profession is more important than ever.