The personality of a CA
In our feature on the stereotypes surrounding CAs and accountants, we examined why those dusty and dry stereotypes exist, and what purpose they have served. But what does the personality of a CA look like?
We’re not talking whether you enjoy mountain-climbing or prefer to read books at the weekend instead of socialising; large companies around the world still use personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to determine if they have the right people for the role, regardless of whether personality influences your ability to perform your chosen job well.
This well-known assessment tool measures psychological preferences (as expressed by the individual) through a series of questions, and boiling you down to sixteen personality types.
What is frightening is that they turn out to be scarily accurate for most people, but do not always relate to the ‘prescribed’ roles associated with that role.
According to that test, this writer should be working in a science role, despite repeatedly failing the Brownie badge for cooking because of an inability to boil eggs to hard or soft conditions.
We asked our tutors if they thought there was a typical personality that could be applied to the average CA and their day to day work. They said:
The range of people working as accountants and the variety of personalities and backgrounds is pretty wide, which reflects the fact that the role of a CA can be hugely varied. Duncan McKellar
A strong moral code and gets things done on time! Ally Millar
Confident and outgoing. Steph Jenkins
Hardworking. No-one I’ve come across since I started training up till now has not been prepared to work hard – whether that’s for exams or at work! Kit Millar
Other skills and qualities listed by chartered accountancy bodies around the world include: advanced communication skills (listening, oral skills, deciphering information, writing); analytical; mathematical; logical; perceptive; punctual; reflective; self-aware; detail-oriented; people-oriented; adaptive; loyal; organised; team-player; creative; trustworthy; and introverted.
In short, that seems like a big list! ICAS believes in diversity for growth and evolution, so there is no one particular personality that fits the bill of a CA. Each person works to their own strengths, and no new ideas would happen in the broad world of accounting if every CA had the exact same qualities.
I don’t think there is such a thing as an average CA. Chris Cunnane
Personality websites commonly suggest the following Myers-Briggs personalities as apt for the work of an accountant or CA. The test divides people by four aspects: Introversion / Extroversion, Sensing / INtuitive, Feeling / Thinking, and Judging / Perceiving:
ESTJ – The Executive
- Leaders who are all about tradition, order, logical thinking and ensuring the right thing is done.
ISTJ – The Logistician
- Very logical people but also conscientious and dedicated to their work. They will try to enforce order wherever they go - a personality that is commonly found across the world.
ESFJ – The Consul
- The popular person in the office, who is always friendly, always part of the team, and loves rules and regulations. Another very common personality in the world.
ISFJ – The Defender
- Loyal and industrious, a quiet personality that works well to meet client needs. The enthusiastic altruists among us.
ENFJ – The Protagonist
- Another leader personality, but the most charismatic and able to form great connections with colleagues.
ENFP – The Campaigner
- Very intuitive with infectious enthusiasm, and also very ethical. Somewhat a free spirit.
Repeated MBTI studies have found that most accountants are ISTJ or ESTJS, although there is no word on whether that is different for CAs who work across a range of functions!
We've also devised our own test based on Nigel Risner's workplace personality types: find out what kind of animal you are!