5 things you didn't know about accounting


Contrary to popular belief, accounting is a profession with a rich history and yes, even a modicum of cool. Here are a few facts about accounting that you may not have known. Use them to feel reinvigorated or better about your career, or an even as an icebreaker. Please do send us a thank you note when they turn out to be handy in the final round of a game show or pub quiz.

It's been around forever
Tokens believed to be used for accounting purposes dating back to 3000BC have been found in Iran, but Franciscan friar and mathematician Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli is widely regarded as the father of modern accounting. His bestseller on double-entry accounting was published around 1494. There is no word on whether he sold more copies than Dan Brown, but his methods are still in use in his native Italy today.

It has a patron saint
St Matthew, author of the first of the Gospels is the patron saint of accountants, bookkeepers, stock-brokers and tax collectors. Before becoming an Apostle, he was a tax collector in the ancient town of Capernaum. In Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper, Matthew is depicted as third from the right. St Matthew's Day is on 21 September in the Roman Catholic Church. He is also mentioned in Islamic texts. Put in for leave now.

Accountants have a Hall of Fame
You might think that this is the stuff of rock n' roll, not ledgers, but accountants have a Hall of Fame and have done since 1950. Based at Ohio State University in the USA, it honours those men and women who made an exceptional contribution to accountancy as a whole. More than 90 accountants from around the world have been inducted to the Hall of Fame. Scott Phipps is the latest inductee - apply in person for a poster.

Accounting is rock n' roll
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was in his first year of studying accounting and finance at the London School of Economics when he was persuaded to begin a career in music by Keith Richards and Brian Jones. It must have been a hard sell. Leo Fender, the inventor of one of the most popular electric guitar brands in the world, never learned to play the instrument and was actually an accountant before losing his job during the Great Depression.

Accountants took down the Mob
It wasn't the men in black jackets but the FBI's forensic accountants who brought down Chicago crime kingpin Al Capone. He was suspected of a litany of crimes, from bootlegging to murder, but it took charges of tax evasion to finally secure a conviction. Accountants have been with the Bureau since 1908, when 12 bank examiners were included among the original force of 34 investigators.

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