10 accountancy facts for International Accounting Day

By Isabelle Bell, CA Today

10 November 2015

Today (10 November) is International Accounting Day and to mark this special event, we’ve put together some interesting facts about accountancy that may surprise you.

1. The father of accounting was Luca Pacioli

Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli published the first book about double-entry bookkeeping on 10 November 1494 – and it is in his honour that International Accountants Day was started. The book was called: Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita, which translates as ‘Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion’.

Luca Pacioli

Image: Jacopo de' Barbari (1460/1470–before 1516) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Ancient Egyptians had early auditing systems

Accounting is thousands of years old and can be traced as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. Early auditing systems have even been identified in ancient Egypt, while early forms of bookkeeping have been found in ancient Iran.

3. Many accounting terms have Latin roots

Accounting may be called ‘the language of business’, but did you know that many well known accounting terms are derived from Latin? The word ‘debit’ means ‘he owes’ in Latin, while ‘credit’ means ‘he trusts’. The word ‘accountant’ is derived from the Latin ‘computare’, which means ‘count’.

4. ICAS is the oldest professional body of chartered accountants in the world

ICAS was founded in 1854 by Royal Charter, making it the oldest professional body of chartered accountants. ICAS originated from the Edinburgh Society of Accountants, the Glasgow Institute of Accountants and Actuaries, and the Aberdeen Society of Accountants.

5. Oscar winning films featuring accountants

Accountants pop up in a number of Oscar-winning films, including Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) in Schindler’s List, Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) in The Untouchables, Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) in The Producers, and Bud Baxter (Jack Lemmon) in The Apartment. Other memorable movie accountants include Any Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in The Shawshank Redemption and of course, the loveable Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) in Ghostbusters.

6. Mick Jagger and Janet Jackson both studied accountancy

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin and singer Janet Jackson all studied accountancy – although Robert Plant abandoned his chartered accountancy training after just two weeks! Eddie Izzard also studied accountancy – while Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay worked as an accountant for a number of years.

Mick Jagger

Image: Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

7. The Romans were obsessed with accounting

The Roman army kept scrupulous records of cash, commodities and transactions, and they computed revenue every day. The public expenditure of Emperor Augustus was even documented and quantified for the Roman people.

8. Bubble gum was invented by an accountant

US accountant Walter Diemer worked for the Fleer Corporation in the 1920s. But his big claim to fame is that he invented bubble gum in his spare time!

9. There is a patron saint of accountants

St Matthew of Apostle fame is the patron saint of accountants, bookkeepers and tax collectors. Before becoming an Apostle, he was a tax collector in the ancient town of Capernaum.

10. Ben Affleck will soon star as an accountant

Ben Affleck is set to play an accountant in a new thriller, aptly called ‘The Accountant’. Affleck stars as a government accountant who moonlights as an assassin. The film is set to be released in late 2016.


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  • Accountancy

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