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Accountant stereotypes

Sarah Grewing 11.06.2014
There are negative stereotypes about virtually every occupational group. Teachers are seen as obnoxious know-it-alls, IT workers are pale nerds, Business Studies students are shallow show-offs. Particularly jobs which include a broad range of activities and which are relatively unknown to the general public struggle to shake off their clichés. 

Accountants, for example, could write a book about this. We dug a little deeper and asked employees at our partner company, EY, what they had to say about some common stereotypes.


Accountants are cold and focused purely on numbers

Do accountants really sit looking at annual financial statements and company balance sheets all day long without any personal contact with other people? Of course not! The employees at our partner company, EY, are very communicative people who have frequent contact with customers. Team spirit and excellent communication skills are essential character traits for this job. “Box-ticking is a thing of the past,” explains Dirk Gallowsky, People and Engagement Partner. “Today, accountants not only examine and certify, but are also advisers, trustees and assessors for their clients – ranging from innovative SMEs through to the important CEO.”

Accountants have a monotonous job

A further widely held belief about accountants is that they sit in their office from morning till evening without ever leaving it. “Every day is different. We are often out of the office visiting customers and on some days we are not in the office at all. And even on days when I am in the office, I’m not just staring at a computer all day long. More often than not, my day is dotted with discussions with colleagues, meetings, conference calls – it’s never boring,” Gallowsky reports.

Accountants are stuffy

Wirtschaftsprüferklischees: Grafik 2

Of course, an accountant’s appearance needs to err on the conservative side, at least at work. But applying this to your private life is overdoing things. “In private, I probably wouldn’t walk round in a suit five days a week,” Felix Bussmann, Transfer Pricing Manager, tells us.

Accountants have a poor work-life balance

It is all a question of organization – and the time of year. “In the so-called busy season, from around October to April, many clients want their balance sheets examining and certifying,” explains Dirk Gallowsky. “We tend to have more work during that period than from early summer through to autumn. But you should always make time for family, friends and sport. For accountants, that is actually somewhat easier in summer than in winter. That reminds me of another stereotype: ‘Accountants can surf better than they can ski.’” Felix Bussmann knows that “‘Balance is the key to life.’ That was on a poster on the wall of our copy center at university. And it is still my motto today – and my screensaver.”