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An accountant took down Al Capone

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Finance and accounting never really appealed to me. That was until I joined ACCA as a research assistant and got to embark on an international exploration into the one million opportunities offered to anyone with such a (not so boring) technical background.

When I look back into my life as a student a few years ago, I would never have thought I would be working for an accountancy body or, even less so, end up praising the profession.

Back then, I thought you had to be a nerd to be an accountant. I used to see the profession as a tedious and monotonous world, and the more unsociable you were, the better it was for the job. The only fun fact I knew about the profession was that it took the work of an accountant to take down the chief gangster of all gangsters, the one and only Al Capone.

Now we've got Ben Affleck, and I really feel like I have missed out on a huge opportunity!

When I started working at ACCA, I didn't know much about accountancy - or ACCA, for that matter. I had this perception of accountants working in isolation, being obsessed with numbers and incapable of understanding actions driven by the heat of the moment.

But through the research I have been involved in, I have come to realise that accountants actually have a pretty exciting job.

The more I get to talk to our members, the more I realise the extent of their capabilities and the variety of roles they get to fill. With their qualification in hand, they travel the world, work across industries and sectors and get a seat at the 'big-boy' table. They literally run the business - they have a 360 view of the company's health, which provides invaluable insights to determine the direction of travel.

The findings from our latest publication Professional accountants - the future: Generation Next is evidence of this, and our work under the Talent Equation campaign is another clear indication of it.

According to almost 19,000 of our students and members under the age of 36, and from around the world, finance and accounting experiences are a great platform for skills attainment and career growth. For them, such background is extremely valuable - building blocks that can lead to much broader leadership roles in the future. They see this as a passport for a wide range of career possibilities across sectors, industries and even beyond the profession.

Many of them - more than 40% - chose a career in the profession for its long-term career prospects, and the opportunity to develop skills that can be used in a broad range of roles, both in and outside of finance. As a matter of fact, 60% of these next generation ACCAs said they may explore a more general business role at some point, and a remarkable 81% told us they may wish to eventually start their own business. And armed with their ACCA qualification, they can.

A finance and accounting background, plus a strong ethical standing, are critical to building trust and credibility within business, and to progress through a career both in and out of the traditional finance function.

Professional accountants throughout the world are uniquely placed to help organisations create sustainable growth and prosperity in the global economy.

Their technical background is a passport to more and more senior roles, and they can use their skills, knowledge and insight to help business plan ahead. These leaders of tomorrow are the key to winning strategy and long-term sustainable business performance.

Don't just take my word for it - there are over 400,000 ACCA students out there who believes in the qualification. Do they know something you don't?

Pauline Schu, Professional Insights Manager, ACCA

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