Accountants want change to dictionary definition

Accountants are being encouraged to sign a petition urging the Oxford English Dictionary to change its definition of the word ‘accountant’ to bring it in line with modern-day approaches to the role, in a move initiated by Xero, the cloud accounting platform, and backed by ACCA

Gary Turner, the MD and UK co-founder of Xero has penned an open letter to the dictionary’s in-house experts to call for the term to better represent what it means to be an accountant in 2019.

The definition of ‘accountant’ currently reads ‘a person whose job is to keep or inspect financial accounts’. Xero is lobbying for this to be updated to ‘a person whose job is to keep or inspect and advise on financial accounts’, in order to shake off the outdated perception of the industry and to reflect how much the role of an accountant has changed in the last two decades.

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, said: ‘Technology is offering accountants greater opportunity to offer provide valuable business insight and advice to their clients. Xero’s proposed revision to the dictionary definition of the term accountant to add a small but vital verb – “advise” – is a positive development we fully support as it reflects the changing role of a professionally qualified accountant as a trusted advisor to business.’

In addition to the letter, Xero has launched an online petition calling for 20,000 supporters to sign and back accounting professionals.

The Change.org petition for updating the definition of accountant is here.

Report by Pat Sweet

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