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Common Misconceptions About CPAs

Molly Hastrich
Tue, Nov 3, 2015

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Accounting is an excellent field for career progression with unlimited opportunities. Unfortunately, TV and other media outlets portray accountants as boring, pocket protector wearing, cubicle occupants that love crunching numbers. 

As a Big Four alum, I have faced these misconceptions about CPAs myself, but there’s a lot more to the accounting profession than most know. Here are some of the top misconceptions about accountants:

1. All accounting professionals prepare tax. Not all accountants are tax accountants and have a deadline of April 15th. There are different roles in accounting depending on whether an accountant works in public accounting or the private sector. They can work in many different roles such as audit, tax, consulting, or corporate accounting. Accountants have month-end, quarter-end and year-end deadlines based on a company’s fiscal year-end so there is no specific busy season for all accountants.

2. Accountants have poor social skills. Many think that accountants are anti-social people who sit at a desk and don’t have or need strong social or communication skills. The truth is that accounting professionals interact with key decision makers in their organizations to interpret financial results and help make informed decisions to drive the success of the company. Accounting professionals work with all departments within an organization to resolve issues and therefore they have an excellent understanding of how the entire company works.

Audit, tax and consulting professionals have several clients throughout the local area and nationally. They have to develop and nurture relationships with their clients as well as communicate their planned procedures and results. These professionals also have strong networking abilities and social skills that help them gain new clients and grow their business.

3. Accountants like working with numbers, spreadsheets and math. While accounting professionals do work with numbers and are often advanced Excel users, they do a lot more than “crunch numbers.” The math involved in accounting is typically limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Though they most typically deal with the financial results of a company, the job requires a lot of professional writing, research and verbal communication. Accountants are responsible for the accurate numbers in the financial statements but also writing the footnote disclosures in accordance with the applicable guidance. Many of these professionals also prepare and present information to the board and audit committee members.

There is so much more to accountants than just debits and credits. Accountants are well-rounded business professionals that often hold leadership roles within their organization. They have the critical thinking, analytical and communication skills that are vital to an organization’s success.

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