Blog No 42 – History of Accounting

Welcome to 2017 and my first blog for the year.

I trust you have all had a great festive season and that the year as started off well for you, both in your professional business life and personal family life!

The first topic of the year is one close to my heart, the history of the accounting profession and what it might look like in the future in my view!

The History of Accounting

Accounting is one of the world’s oldest professions, dating back over five thousand years. Early indications were first noted in ancient Mesopotamia (an area now known as Iraq), ancient Iran and the Egyptians.

The history of accounting is by necessity naturally seen as parallel to the history of finance, business and commerce.

More recently, in the 15th century, double entry bookkeeping was described in Italy and used by the merchants of Venice. The key concepts of double entry bookkeeping being ledgers, debits and credits were described by Luca Pacioli in 1496, and still remains the basis of all current computerised accounting systems everywhere today. Pacioli was a friend and contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci and was much admired in those days, and still this day as the ‘godfather’ of bookkeeping. Even his contemporary Christopher Columbus, acknowledged the role of accounting when he took a royal accountant with him on his voyages to track his wealth accumulation.

One might argue that Pacioli would not recognise todays ‘books’ put together in a largely automated manner using computerised character recognition, bank feeds and integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) cloud based systems. The background theory going on behind the scenes is still the very same double entry bookkeeping fundamentals, so Pacioli’s concepts are still at play today!

Cost Management Accounting

In terms of Cost Management Accounting, this area of Accounting was originally driven by the industrial revolution in the 18th century and continues to evolve with the most recent development being Activity Based Costing (ABC) 20+years ago.

Next Week

In next week’s blog, we will continue looking at the accounting profession and what the future of accounting might be?

Ross – Billson Advisory

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