There’s an age-old perception that accountants are boring. They are the ‘pen-pushers’ who spoil everyone’s fun and spend their evenings pouring over graphs and spread sheets. But how true is this antiquated stereotype, and does anyone still believe it? Here at Spread Co, we decided to look into whether this view is still held by the public, and what the graduates dealing with these perceptions think about it.

We spoke to UK graduates from a number of different numeracy-based courses and asked them about some of the questions they’ve faced about their degrees. The wide range of provocative questions posed seems to confirm that the perception of those who study courses in mathematical sciences is still overwhelmingly negative.

Questions ranged from the playful “Don’t you just make the numbers up?” to the offensive, with one respondent being asked, “Won’t you want to kill yourself doing that 9-5?”

Keen to dispel the myths about these misunderstood graduates, we encouraged them to offer their own responses to the questions that have been levelled at them since graduating.

With the respondents’ qualifications ranging from Business Management to Masters in Mathematics, the graduates defied the negative stereotypes to show that those wanting careers in this industry are exciting, interesting and certainly not the “boring bean counters” that people think they are.

The questions and comments, as well as the answers the graduates gave, have been visualised below.



Shameer Sachdev, from Spread Co, commented, “There is for some reason an old fashioned impression that these sorts of degrees are boring, whereas in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

“To work in the fast-paced and constantly evolving world of finance, you need a diverse skillset and the sort of intrinsic drive that these competitive degrees give you.
“Whether it’s backpacking around the world or landing their dream job over thousands of other applicants, the graduates we surveyed are clearly interesting and dynamic individuals, which is perfect for our industry.”

The full list of questions and comments, with their respective degrees and responses, is as follows:

   Question/comment and degree Response
Won't you want to kill yourself doing that 9-5?
BSc Business and Management
I'm the youngest partner in my company's history. So shockingly, no.
Don't you just make the numbers up?
BSc Accounting and Finance
If I do, I'm paid about £50k a year too much!
You just sit on your arse all day doing sums
BSc Mathematics and Finance
Last year, I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and raised £6,000 for charity!
Are you really going to do that for the rest of your life?
BSc Finance and Economics
I advise some of the world's biggest and most creative businesses. So yes, hopefully!
You just add up... how hard can that be?
MSc Mathematics
I beat over 2,000 other graduates to land my dream job.
Boring bean counter!
BSc Finance and Management
I just backpacked across south-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand!
You're the traffic wardens of the finance world!
BSc Economics
Over summer, some other "traffic wardens" and I hitchhiked 250 miles across the Balkans.

Despite negative perceptions of mathematical science degrees, more people than ever are applying for courses in the subject area. According to UCAS data, in June 2015 there were 48,130 applicants. This was massive a surge of over 2,500 extra applicants compared to the previous year. This is despite a drop in students looking to study medicine, technology and art courses. The core subject area saw a 5.5% rise in applications compared to what was a modest 1% improvement on 2014’s overall university applications.

With mathematical subject applications at a five year high, these outdated stereotypes will surely soon be a thing of the past. If our graduates are anything to go by, then accountants are most definitely anything but boring.
  

 
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