Beyond The Numbers: 20 Intriguing Facts About Accounting

Beyond The Numbers: 20 Intriguing Facts About Accounting

February 26, 2024

Accounting might conjure images of spreadsheets and tax forms, but there's more to this profession than meets the eye.

From its surprisingly ancient roots to interesting stats about the people who keep the numbers in check, get ready to be amazed by these 20 fascinating facts about accounting:


Facts about the History of Accounting

1. Ancient Origins: The earliest recorded instance of accounting was in approximately 7,500 years BC, when the Mesopotamians utilised tiny clay tokens as a means for accounting for goods. Each token signified specific amounts of various commodities, important to trade at that time.

2. Double-Entry Duo: Italian monk Luca Pacioli revolutionized the traditional bookkeeping framework, establishing the foundation for contemporary accounting practices. Often referred to as “the father of accounting,” Pacioli released a textbook titled “Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita” in 1494. This publication highlighted the advantages of using a double-entry system for bookkeeping.

3. The UK Has the World’s First Professional Accounting Body: Founded in 1854, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is considered the world's first professional accounting body.

4. Saintly Support: St. Matthew, a tax collector before becoming an Apostle, is the patron saint of accountants, bookkeepers and tax collectors.

5. Female Pioneers: The UK saw Ethel Watts become the first woman to qualify as a chartered accountant in 1924, paving the way for future generations of women in the profession.


UK Accounting Facts

6. London still a Major Financial Hub: As of March 11, 2022, England is home to 41,480 VAT/PAYE registered businesses related to accountancy. London and the South East combined make up almost half of the total number of accountancy firms in England. 

7. Women Make Up Almost Half the Profession, Yet Fewer in Senior Positions: Data collected in 2021 revealed that almost half of all certified accountants were women (45.47%), yet only one in five senior positions were held by female professionals.

8. Accountants Generally Satisfied with Salary: According to a study in 2023, more than half of the accountancy and finance workforce (56%) is satisfied with their salary, marking a modest rise from the previous year's figure of 53%.

9. The accountancy Industry Contributed £80.7bn to GDP in 2022: The most recent data for 2022 from the UK indicates that the accounting sector generated over £80 billion through its operations.

10. High Number of Accountants in the UK: The UK employs approximately 357,200 individuals in accounting positions registered to official accounting bodies 

11. Digital Revolution in Accountancy: 76% of small businesses in the UK utilise accounting software, highlighting the embrace of technology within the profession. 

12. Small Business Focus: A study of small and mid-sized businesses, found an impressive 92% of SMBs utilise the services of an accountant, with nearly half (49%) engaging with their accountants every week.

13. Auditing Services Increasingly Important: Accountancy audit and assurance services contributed around £8.2 billion to the total revenue of the UK's accounting industry in 2023, growing 4.5% year-on-year and marking them as key service areas.

14. The UK is the World’s Leading Net Exporter of Accountancy Services: The UK exported a total of £63.7 billion in accounting services in 2022, the most of any country.

15. The UK Accountancy Profession is Growing: Membership of accredited CCAB bodies in the UK and Ireland has grown by 14% over the five years from 2017 – 2022.


Fun Accountancy Facts & Trivia:

16.   Latin Origins: The term "accountant" in English originates from the Old French word "compter," which itself stems from the Latin "computare," meaning ‘to compute’. 

17.   Royal Accountants: The Royal Household employs a team of accountants called The Privy Purse and Treasurer's Office to manage the finances of the British monarchy, showcasing the profession’s versatility.

18. VAT Quirks: The UK's Value Added Tax (VAT) has some interesting peculiarities, like exempting cold takeaway food but taxing hot food.

19. Celebrity Accountants: Surprising celebrities like Mick Jagger and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin dabbled in accounting before pursuing their famous careers. The comedian Eddie Izzard also studied accounting although he failed his exams.

20. Unique Terminology: The word ‘Bookkeeping’ stands out as the only word in the dictionary featuring three sets of consecutive double letters (O, K and E). We always embrace complexity in our profession!


So, there you have it! Accounting is more than just crunching numbers; it's a dynamic and evolving profession with a rich history and a significant impact on the economy and society. Whether you're an aspiring accountant, a business owner, or simply curious about the world around you, hopefully, these accounting stats have shed some light on the fascinating world of accounting in the UK and further afield.

If you would like any help with expert business accounting, please get in touch with Linggard and Thomas. We are chartered accountants that can empower your business to succeed.


Sources for Accounting Stats:






11. Sage Report: Digital Britain: How small businesses are turning the tide on tech 





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