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Kaplan survey: what do Brits really think about accountants?

Accountancy might be perceived as ‘boring’, but it also has plenty to offer, according to a new survey, writes Mark Wolstenholme

May 2017

Few professions have been as heavily – and negatively – stereotyped as accountancy. From the overarching view of accounting as a ‘boring’ job to the incorrect impression that accountants spend all their time calculating taxes and staring at spreadsheets, it seems people have plenty to say about the profession.
But are these stereotypes really so commonplace? To find out what the British public really thinks about accountancy, Kaplan commissioned a survey of 2,000 adults. Respondents were asked to compare 10 careers that offer some of the best opportunities for employment:
• Accountant
• Builder
• Business consultant
• Chef
• Developer
• Engineer
• Human resource manager
• Marketing manager
• Nurse
• Teacher
Accountancy was named by 44% of respondents as the most boring profession, well ahead of second-placed human resource management, with 11.5% of votes.
But not all of the findings were negative. Only 3% of those surveyed chose accountancy as the most stressful profession – well behind nursing (37%) and teaching (27.5%). Accountancy was also judged one of the best-paid professions with 27% of votes, narrowly behind business consultancy (31.5%).
Furthermore, accountancy scored well when it came to personal development and progression, with 12% of respondents saying it provides the best opportunities for career advancement. Only engineering (15%) scored higher.
Accountancy was also rated as best for employee benefits by 11% of respondents, just behind teaching (14.5%), while 9.5% rated the profession as top for work/life balance – behind teaching with 21%, human resource management with 11.5%, and building with 10.5%.
Perhaps most significantly of all, the study revealed that even if people think accountancy is ‘boring’, the majority would still contemplate a career as an accountant. Three-fifths of respondents would apply for a job that they thought was boring for higher pay and a better work/life balance – both areas in which accounting is viewed favourably.
Zoe Robinson, Kaplan’s Director of Programmes, said: “In the same way that nursing and engineering can be rich and rewarding professions, accountancy isn’t just about filing tax returns.
“What’s also clear is that the majority of people prioritise pay and work/life balance over the level of ‘interest’ they place in a job. Previously, our student surveys have told us that the most common reasons for undertaking a career change into accountancy are career progression, financial benefit and personal development. These are the truly important factors that people should consider when planning the next step in their career.”
• Mark Wolstenholme, Kaplan Financial

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