It's all in the name - industry snobbery?

Did anyone see the recent comment in PQ magazine?

PQ was talking on LinkedIn (apparently) about the term accountant and whether AAT graduates were accountants. Here's the quote: "Can a technician be an accountant? We think not, but you may beg to differ."

How mad does that make you all feel?

Any comments to the Editor, PQ Magazine


  • coojee
    coojee Registered Posts: 794
    An interesting and ongoing discussion. Playing devil's advocate here. Since the AAT qualification isn't degree standard AAT members shouldn't be classed as graduates. Next the definition of an accountant (which varies depending on where you look) says something along the lines of "one who keeps, audits and inspects financial records" and an AAT member can't audit.However, another definition says "a person skilled or trained in accounting especially one in charge of the financial accounts of a company or organisation" On that basis an AAT member could be classed as an accountant but that would be based on their job role not on their qualification. I also think that that applies to all qualifieds, be they ACCA, ACA, CIMA, AAT - if the job that you do isn't accounting then should you call yourself an accountant? What about someone who trained as an ACA but then stopped work to have children and is now childminding, can she still call herself an accountant purely because she once qualified and has kept up her membership?
  • stevef
    stevef Registered Posts: 258 ? ? ?
    A graduate is someone who has completed something, so you can be an AAT graduate. Accountant is not a protected word, so anyone can call themselves an accountant. This is why the CCAB have been campaigning for years to get the term protected (in the same way as the word "solictor" is protectected). Once protected some restrictions can be placed on who can use the term, but the cautionary note is CCAB are pressing (not surprisingly) that only members of CCAB bodies should be able to call themselves an Accountant. This would not be helpful to either AAT or CIMA members if successful. Perhaps AAT should support the CCAB if the CCAB campaign fot its member bodies and AAT!
  • MarieNoelle
    MarieNoelle Moderator, MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,369
    As said previously, anyone can call themselves an accountant but the truth is, the AAT themselves do not call their members accountants but technicians.
    When asked what I do I say I provide accountancy and tax services. If they asked about qualification I say I am AAT qualified. I rarely say "I am an accountant".

    AAT provides you with a solid knowledge that may be enough to allow you to perform most accounting tasks. And the Association's regulations and CPD requirements are a good safety net to protect their standards.As long as employers and clients know what the AAT means, I have no problem with it.

    From my understanding , the exams and professional requirements to become a qualified, chartered accountant are a lot harder than AAT. So part of me sympathises with those holding these qualifications and trying to protect their name. However I also believe experience and personal qualities are just as important to perform the job. If you are a good at what you are doing no one cares about your background.

    (Just to clarify, I am not a chartered accountant because I decided to pursue the accountancy route in my 40's with 3 children and AAT was my best option!)
  • Makkusu
    Makkusu Registered Posts: 94 ? ? ?
    Personally I don't think the AAT qualification is in depth enough to qualify as an Accountant. I know you can be QBE, but if we're talking strictly qualifications then AAT doesn't provide the tool set to be an Accountant.

    I think you can assume to be a competent bookkeeper or a capable assistant, but a fully fledged accountant... worlds away.
  • stevo5678
    stevo5678 Registered Posts: 325
    This appears to be a regular debate. I am AAT and ACCA and will try and offer a balanced perspective. That's the key word for me 'perspective'...

    Academically the ACCA qualification is way harder than AAT (1) and it was far more an achievement for me in hindsight, however does that make me more of or a better accountant than an AAT person? I can confidently say no! In my experience it is more to do with a balanced assessment of ones ability overall. The main two areas to assess one's ability/suitability as accountant for me are Experience and then Qualifications but the main thing is DELIVERING what is required.

    Now going back to perspective, an old school ACA will often look at an AAT person as a technician as a way of distinguishing themselves and also do this by still referring to ACCA's as Certified Accountants (Forgetting other C).

    However the client (and by client I mean the public if you are an MIP or a stakeholder/colleague if you work in industry) only cares on you DELIVERING results. EG a practice client 99% of the time does not care less what your letters are, but does care about whether you will do the service that you are getting paid for. If you are an AAT in practice then it is very likely that you will (depending on experience) do and you will certainly be 'qualified' to perform this work. In an industry role, a colleague more likely a senior manager will also be more concerned with whether you are fulfilling the role of what he/she expects from an 'accountant' for their company rather than what your qualification is and whether the word accountant is in your letters.

    So I personally think that AAT alone perhaps doesn't justify one being called an accountant, however the role ones performs can do. All of the MIP's on here (or most) will be 'accountants' in this context which is surely logical and common sense if that is the role upon which they are performing. Equally it's difficult to call an ACCA person who works as a purchase ledger clerk an accountant (2)... Technically they are by title but that's about as far as it goes.

    1- In defence of AAT, a lot of the ACCA was not very relevant!
    2 - I know that technically an ACCA shouldn't be able to achieve qualified status only working as a PL clerk due to the PER requirements)
  • stevef
    stevef Registered Posts: 258 ? ? ?
    I agree in the main with stevo5678, but there are somethings that by legislation, only members of specified professional bodies can carry out egRegistered Auditor for a plc, Company Secretary for a plc, Responsible Financial Officer (section 151 Officer) for a local authority.
  • Rozzi Rainbow
    Rozzi Rainbow Registered Posts: 465
    Some excellent posts here, this thread makes very interesting reading.

    I seem unable to quote a post without crashing my web browser (!) but:

    an old school ACA will often ... do this by still referring to ACCA's as Certified Accountants (Forgetting other C)

    My boss does this!!!
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