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Accounting's Evolution Leads Xero To Petition For Oxford Definition Change

Xero Petitions for New 'Accounting' Definition

Xero has started an online petition to convince The Oxford English Dictionary to change its "archaic" definition of the word "accountant."

The petition has received support from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the global body for professional accountants.

Along with the petition, Gary Turner, co-founder of Xero, wrote an open letter to the dictionary’s experts to request that it come up with a definition that is a more accurate representation of what it now means to be an accountant.

The definition currently reads that an accountant is "a person whose job is to keep or inspect financial accounts." Xero would like it changed to "a person whose job is to keep or inspect and advise on financial accounts."

In the letter, Turner explained that accountants now take on a wide range of roles, with his company's data showing that 30 percent of small business owners see their accountants as their most trusted advisers, with 27 percent asking their accountant for broader business advice.

"Today, an accountant doesn’t just crunch the numbers and observe financial operations, but so much more. They advise business owners and aid and fuel business objectives, such as business growth, improving efficiency, cost and productivity," according to the letter. "We also know that accountants and bookkeepers are vital to the U.K.’s stability. Nearly 65 percent of accountants believe that their jobs are having a major impact on the economy."

“We are in complete support of this definition change. In the past year, the role of accountants and financial directors has massively changed, and technology has played a huge part in this," said Cheryl Price, founder of CH Accountancy. "In the next five years, accountants will continue to undergo a dramatic shift, moving from paper, spreadsheets and outdated desktop software to digital technology that is continuously built on and updated [to evolve] with new legislation. This enables accountants to scale up operations and allows firms to offer higher quality and advisory services to clients – a new role that will only become more prevalent in accountancy in the future.”



The September 2020 Leveraging The Digital Banking Shift Study, PYMNTS examines consumers’ growing use of online and mobile tools to open and manage accounts as well as the factors that are paramount in building and maintaining trust in the current economic environment. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.