Campaign to change the OED definition of an accountant

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Accountants normally spend their time analysing business outcomes, but now they have been asked to cast their eyes over the finer points of linguistics and the definition of the profession and its objectives.

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The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is being asked to change its definition of the word accountant to better reflect the modern role of the profession. Currently, the OED defines an accountant as a person whose job is to keep or inspect financial accounts. Chambers Dictionary has a similar entry saying an accountant is a person whose profession is to prepare, keep or audit financial records of a business company.


Many people will recognise the definition in the OED and not find it too controversial, but a new petition launched by software firm Xero is aiming to change the entry to better reflect the modern role of the accountant.

Recent research has suggested that most clients see their accountant as a trusted business adviser, particularly in an era when technology is playing a greater role and taxation is becoming digitalised. Accountants are increasingly being asked to advise on capital investment, and wherever your company is based, Chelsea, Chorley or Cheltenham accountants who can offer this kind of advice can be found online at sites such as accountants Cheltenham.

The new wording recommended by the authors of the petition is aimed at reflecting the breadth of the modern role defining the accountant as a person whose job is to keep or inspect and advise on financial accounts.

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Unsurprisingly, there has been some resistance to the petition within the profession, but it has generally been well received and is being supported by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. The professional body asserts that by adding the word advise to the definition, it will better reflect the role of the accountant in the modern business environment. The organisation also points out that technology and new Fintech innovations give accountants more opportunities to advise clients across a wide range of issues.

Those in favour of the petition, which aims to collect 20,000 signatures, claim that the technological impact over the next few years will allow accountants to offer a greater range of advice, and that a new definition of their work is needed.

Clients will inevitably still rely on checking their accountant’s qualifications when making a choice.

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