The Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA) carried out its first wellbeing survey of 1,000 accountants, 69% male and 31% female, covering all sectors of the profession including those in practices, retired, unemployed and newly qualified.
Long days, high pressure and heavy workloads inevitably lead to a third (33%) feel stressed in their day to day lives. Getting on the ladder and creating job security increases pressure, with the survey showing younger accountants are more prone to stress than their experienced counterparts.
“I find the financial sector can be demoralising, the amount of hours you put in and the impact it has on your personal life – would be nice to have some recognition,” said one 32-year-old employed respondent.
Almost half of those surveyed (47%) are happy with the their work/life balance, especially those in the oldest age bracket of 65 and over. A quarter see room for improvement in this area, but only 4% said they were not all satisfied with their situation.
Less than one in ten have taken time off work due to stress and only 4% have been signed off by a doctor.
Not making enough time to relax was shown as major cause of stress, especially for women. A quarter surveyed attributed stress to issues with family and children, whereas work and a busy lifestyle are most common.
“I find the financial sector can be demoralising, the amount of hours you put in and the impact it has on your personal life – would be nice to have some recognition,” replied a working accountant, 32.
To relieve the pressures of work and a hectic schedule, exercise (48%), comfort eating (37%), and talking issues out with friends and family (36%) are the most common methods employed. Almost a third (29%) use alcohol to unwind after a long day at the office.
A 40-year-old finance director listed, “stress-related weight, increased level of cholesterol, too much time dedicated to work and not enough to exercise,” as common complaints.
Despite pressurised aspects of accountancy, teachers, healthcare professionals, bankers and city traders, head chefs and lawyers top the list of most stressful UK occupations.
It may surprise those within the industry that one in 10 accountants struggle with debt. In addition, one in 20 have admitted to needing help to service them.
“It would be very embarrassing for me to ask for a loan as a chartered accountant. I’m meant to be the expert,” said a business accountant, 51.
As with most professions in the current climate, pension age and amount is a worry. Three quarters of those with a private or company pension feel they are going to have to work longer to ensure they are financially comfortable in retirement, and 38% do not feel they are making sufficient contributions.
Of those currently out of work, 61% are concerned they will have difficulty getting back into work because of their age.
“I thought I may be out of work for a few months, but after 8 months I was a little worried. It’s not just the money aspect, you can start to lose touch with things pretty quickly,” commented an unemployed accountant, 38.
As redundancies continue to rise and competition for roles intensifies, some believe the working atmosphere has deteriorated.
“Generally I feel staff dishonesty is on the increase, respect for seniors from juniors and vice versa do not exist any more,” said a senior accountant, 55.
CABA now plan to carry out the survey annually.