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Who is the Mastermind Behind Accountants’ Lack of Prestige?

conspiracy.jpgEditor’s Note: Robert Stewart is a former Big 4 auditor and ex-Marine who has since served in several executive management roles in both Internal Audit and Corporate Finance. He is also the founder and chief contributor to online accounting and audit community, The Accounting Nation. Outside of work, he is a husband, father, brother, writer, and woefully inadequate aspiring triathlete. To learn more about The Accounting Nation, go to
Harris Interactive recently published their annual list of the most prestigious occupations, as perceived by the obviously mal-informed public being led astray by the obviously biased and poorly designed Harris Interactive survey. Here’s the headline…
The rest, after the jump

Firefighters, Scientists and Doctors Seen as Most Prestigious Occupations
Real estate brokers, Accountants and Stockbrokers are at the bottom of the list

Don’t pull any punches Harris…God forbid. Just put it right out there. In my opinion, this is a very narrow survey that does a great injustice to the world of accounting as it seeks to strengthen its image and recruit the leaders of tomorrow. I think much of the problem arises from shades of gray attached to the moniker “accountant”. If I say that I am a police officer…you probably have a pretty good idea about the scope of my responsibilities.
But if I tell you that I’m an accountant…you might think you know what I do…but do you really? I could be a Controller at a Fortune 500 company, a Partner at E&Y, or an accounts payable clerk at Bob’s House of Meats (a fictitious entity…but I envision an 8-store family business with a giant Bob’s Big Boy-esque statue out front that sells the finest cuts of meat from across the land…just me? I digress). Clearly all three would have remarkably different responsibilities …but all three are technically “accountants”. See the issue there? It’s in the pitch. It plays into the public perception and stereotype rather than painting the true picture.
Doesn’t the accounting industry have any lobbyists out there that can work some mojo to influence the slant of these types of reports??? As if the accounting profession doesn’t have enough publicity problems what with the continuous onslaught of media-inflated accounting nightmares …now we have to deal with these types of shenanigans..and annually no less…like some bad recurring nightmare about alligators trying to eat you or some other manifestation of your self-perceived inadequacy.
Perhaps it’s a bigger conspiracy propagated by the business community at large in order to dissuade the bestest candidates from pursuing a career in accounting thereby lowering the profession’s overall collective IQ and subsequently clearing the way for them (the business community at large…pay attention) to have their way with financial statements and the investing/banking communities for all eternity? Why are you looking at me like that…it could happen…it could totally happen.