International Accounting Day dates back to 10 November 1494 when a book describing the Venetian system of double-entry bookkeeping, written by Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli, was published. Pacioli described the use of journals and ledgers, and warned that a person should not go to sleep at night until the debits equalled the credits.
Any accountant who’s been in business a while has worked with thousands of people. Helping small businesses and individuals balance the books and keep their tax affairs in check. But it’s more than just reconciliations and tax calculations that accountants do for their clients. And today, International Accounting Day, is a great time to reflect on what it means to be one.
In talking with other accountants, one key reason for choosing the profession stands out. We like to help others. This was reinforced again last week at a Xero Accelerate workshop. Most of the accountants said helping clients achieve their goals is what drives them.
That could be said of many other industries and professions. But only a handful directly affect the quality of life of their clients. Next to health, financial well-being is the most important aspect of our journey through life. Death and taxes are the only two certainties! So every day, when we’re working with clients, we’re providing advice that can make a big difference to them.
Not only do clients trust us to act in their best interests, society expects us to perform our role in the public interest. Our professional charters spell out our commitment to fulfill these expectations. So day-to-day, as we provide advice to our clients, we balance their well-being with that of the rest of society.
Our success in achieving this balance is evident. The term ‘trusted advisor’ rings true with our clients and carries weight within the broader society. While it’s an often overused term in our industry, it does describe our role well. It’s a big responsibility, but being entrusted with it is a privilege we welcome.
What I do on a daily basis allows me to be a mentor and an educator. This is what International Accounting Day means to me. By choosing accountancy as my career, I’ve chosen to help small and medium businesses thrive. And in my role at Xero, I can help this generation of accountants – and the next. I can help them grow their skills and their practices in the connected world of cloud accounting.
So take some time today to reflect on the difference you’ve been able to make. And the role you want to play in the future. These opportunities are unique and the outcomes really matter.
And if you’re interested, find out more about the history of International Accounting Day.