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Should the Accounting Profession Be Renamed?

Oct 26th 2016
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The idea that accountants and bookkeepers should no longer be labeled as such is not a new concept, but it does appear to be gaining some traction and relevance, particularly at this year’s QuickBooks Connect event.

Given all of the technological advancements in business and for the profession itself, coupled with the pressing need for accountants to “evolve,” it’s no wonder this conversation of rebranding has gained some steam.

A bit of history: The idea of accountants, or even credentialed ones, such as CPAs, changing their title to better reflect what they do and showcase value to potential clients can go back to when the term “Cognetor” was first bandied about. That didn’t really fly at the time, though “Trusted Advisor” has seen some traction. Within that, there’s been efforts to simply add credentials to showcase the value of what you do: CITP, CFP, and now CGMA. But do those brands tell the whole story of what you do?

At a predominantly small accounting and bookkeeping firm-focused event like QuickBooks Connect, where attendees are bombarded by tools and concepts to help them evolve and remain relevant, the idea of coming up with a new label doesn’t entirely fall on deaf ears.

Bookkeepers, for one, have been struggling to showcase their value and come out of the so-called dark ages they’ve been perceived in, and would much prefer being called accounting professionals or business advisors.

In a keynote, here at Intuit’s QuickBooks-centric event, Profit First author and entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz explained to accountants and bookkeepers just how and why their names need to change.

“It’s hard to argue with clients why as accountants and bookkeepers we’re different. It’s hard to argue that we’re better than they know our label to be,” said Michalowicz. “If we want to stand out to prospects and clients, we need to change our label. Don’t call yourselves accountants and bookkeepers. Why not profit advisor or something that reflects more of what you do and will do for them?”

The bottom line is, those professionals that are interested in surviving and even thriving may indeed need to entertain the idea or a rebrand; albeit subtle or over time. This is a conversation I’d love to see continue here and out in the public. As ever, your thoughts are what matter most and not just those of this site’s editor. Feel free to share.

Replies (4)

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ingrid edstrom
By Ingrid Edstrom
Oct 27th 2016 11:00 EDT

Great article, Seth! The issue with simply changing our name is mostly one of marketing. Our clients are not searching for "profit advisor" online... yet. They are searching for accountants and bookkeepers. Another issue is that the CPA governing agencies in many states hold an iron grip in the words "accounting" and "accountant." These limitations are essentially the equivalent to business "blue laws," as these restrictions are no longer serving a positive role; instead they are now holding the profession back.
I will be teaching on this topic at the Accountex conference in November. You can read a related article here:

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By Dugite
Oct 28th 2016 22:58 EDT

It seems to clear me that those calling for a change in title don't themselves understand the long-standing definitions of the words "accountant" and "bookkeeper", nor what those who choose (or have the credentials?) to operate under such titles actually do!

It's not the titles that need to change but the message.

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By [email protected]
Oct 30th 2016 17:19 EDT

CPA's have to change the nature of how the public looks at them to keep the profession going. it's not just about the audit which is exclusive to CPA's. It is about helping individuals, businesses and others understand the numbers, which means advisory services and not compliance services. CPA's have to get the general public to understand that they are "Trusted Advisors"not just number crunchers who have been licensed by a state and comply with a rigorous state of rules to keep themselves certified and ethical. They can help their clients be more profitable, liquid and solvent. This encompasses much more than doing financial statements. Everyone in the world is now creating businesses to sell bookkeeping and accounting services that are not licensed or regulated. This does not mean that they are any less capable them the CPA depending on their background and eductation. This is where branding and marketing comes in and where the CPA should be focusing. The world is changing and new occupations are being created that didn't exist in the past. It's not that the Accounting Profession needs to be renamed. It's that Accountants, CPA's, and Bookkeepers need to let people know why their clients and prospects are special and differentiate themselves.

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By stevelarsc
Aug 22nd 2017 07:13 EDT

The term accountant is something that we used from a long time for this profession. Even though in these years their designation and role in a 3D Eye Mask for Sleeping company had changed quite a bit the name of their post remained same. It is essential to give them a better designation names with their roles.

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