So many times I am out at a restaurant, store, or outing and someone in my family or group of friends says “You’re the accountant, how much is this?” and wants me to calculate something in my head. I am going to let you all in on a little secret… I am not a mathematician, I am an accountant. If my calculator is not near, don’t ask me to calculate anything. I am going to let you in on a few more secrets as well. Here are just 4:
Accounting Myth #1: Accounting is about Maths.
This could not be further than the truth. Yes, accountants use math. Everyone does. Example: an engineer, salesman, marketing person, lawn man, hair stylist, etc. If you want to get paid, you will have to calculate the amount you are owed, the change if paid in cash, your commission percentage, etc. Accountants use math similarly. Accounting is accounting for assets, liabilities, income, expenses, etc… yes; however, the “meat and potatoes” of true accounting is research and storytelling. Do you enjoy putting a puzzle together? Well, in accounting, when you look through those numbers you are looking for holes to put that right piece into. You have to use those numbers to tell the owner of a business, shareholder, bank, or manager what they mean; how they can use them; and what to expect in the future. It’s analytics, not algebra.
Wrong! Understand that when you enter a major tax franchise or chain your taxes are most likely being prepared by a trained “tax preparer” NOT an accountant. The true definition of an accountant is one who has a degree in Accounting. Yes, accountants can do tax. The accounting degree has it as a major, but this does not mean that all accountants are tax experts.
Be careful when someone says they are an accountant. I hear bookkeepers say this all the time and they don’t know the difference between a journal entry and the banana. Not to anyone. I respect them all and I greatly appreciate their work as part of the team to get the result.
Accounting Myth #3: An accountant is an accountant is a bookkeeper – they are all the same.
OH NO! You did not just say that! A bookkeeper is not an accountant. In South Africa, a bookkeeper is generally, not qualified, whereas an accountant is. That is the differentiating factor and the reason for the difference in title.
An accountant is not a chartered accountant (CA). CA(SA) is a highly sought after and distinguished degree involving many years of hard work and lots of exams.
These differences do not mean that some are more important than the others. The job they do differs but are all vital to the outcome. What must be said is that a CA(SA) can do all the functions whereas an accountant does some of it and the bookkeeper can only do that function. Its like a ladder you can perform down the ladder but not up.
Accounting Myth #4: Accounting is for Men only.
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