Accountants are generally known for their affinity for working with numbers, but a new survey conducted by Robert Half Finance & Accounting suggests that accounting and finance professionals earn more satisfaction from solving problems. The online survey asked over 2,600 professionals a fairly simple question: “What part of working in the accounting and finance profession do you enjoy the most?” The most popular response was problem-solving at 41%, while working with numbers earned only a distant second place at 22%. Other responses included making strategic business recommendations (17%), learning new technologies (9%) and—with an impressively low, stereotype-reinforcing response rate—collaborating with others (8%). These results arguably tee up a thorough analysis of the myriad of ways in which the phrases “solving problems” and “working with numbers” could actually be interpreted by respondents; however, it is currently late March, and as this particular blogger is still precisely knee-deep in the audit busy season, readers will be spared such an analysis.

While this interesting factoid may make for decent small-talk around the proverbial water-cooler, the implications could potentially be much more substantial, particularly for business executives and managers. The notion that many accounting professionals find greater satisfaction in solving problems than they do merely manipulating numbers presents an opportunity to businesses to determine whether their accounting and finance workforce is being utilized in the best manner possible. Certain employees may find greater job satisfaction when offered additional problem-solving opportunities that would have otherwise been handled at a higher level. Mutual benefits may also be achieved by allowing accounting and finance employees to consider ways in which the processes and procedures in their respective areas could be improved. Of course, without further analysis of the survey’s response options as described above, it is entirely possible that respondents who prefer “solving problems” were simply referring to their fondness for Sudoku puzzles, in which case none of the above is really valid.


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