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Accountants top the swearing league table

A new survey from commercial property agents SavoyStewart.co.uk found that accountants use the most profanity during meetings.

25th Nov 2020
Community Assistant AccountingWEB
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Profanity
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It’s been a stressful year, especially for the accounting profession.

While swearing in the workplace is relatively common within the UK, it has inevitably increased due to relaxed working from home conditions and lack of supervision from senior staff.

Keen to discover which sectors were guilty of using the greatest number of expletives while on the clock, SavoyStewart.co.uk conducted a swearing survey.

The study approached 100 companies across 14 different sectors and discovered that workers in accounting, banking and finance used the most profanity during team meetings and video calls.

Swearing monitor

To conduct the experiment, the researchers asked volunteers from each sector to record the number of times a member of staff swore during meetings over a 12-week period.

The information was then collated and compared, ultimately putting the accounting profession at the top of the rankings for the highest number of obscenities uttered during the study.

Not safe for work

Accountancy won the sweary accolade by a shocking mile, with a total of nearly 1,000 swear words spoken and an average of 80 per week.

This figure dwarfed the least sweary sector by almost 17 times.

The oath most commonly spoken by accountants during the research began with an F.

Runners up

Lawyers claimed second place, with a total of 722 curses spoken and an average of 60 words per week.

Charities and the voluntary sector came last in the survey, with a total of just 57 occurrences of swearing and an average of five words per week.

In this more well spoken sector, the most common curse was reportedly the S-word.

Profanity in practice

Accountancy is clearly no stranger to a bit of corporate cussing. Outside a pub in Sheffield during the summer of 2018, for example, accountant Paul Singleton let off a stream of F-bombs that resulted in a disciplinary tribunal with the ICAEW. The asterisk-laden outburst was a result of a fee dispute with his clients and their solicitors, and earned Singleton a serious reprimand for bringing his profession into disrepute.

The accountant denied that his misconduct was in breach of the ICAEW code of ethics. He’ll be kicking himself now that he wasn’t able to cite the swearing study as part of his defence.

Community curses

Ranty outbursts are not unknown on the AccountingWEB community, where practitioners occasionally vent their annoyance with tricky clients.

AWEB reader Lone_Wolf doesn’t go for profanity in the office, but isn’t afraid to let off steam once the clients are out of earshot: “I imagine I’d very quickly go insane if I had to deal with some of the [clients] I do on a day to day basis without the occasional swear.”

DJKL begged to differ: “When working with staff in the office all swearing ought to be forbidden; it could certainly make some staff I have worked with uncomfortable.”

Mike_uk_1983, however, thought the question depended on the person involved: “You may have a client who swears every other word themselves and they may feel more comfortable if their accountant also swears, whereas other clients may be more offended by it. You have to know your client.”

What do you think about swearing in the workplace? Is it a harmless way to vent your frustrations, or a step on the slippery slope towards unprofessionalism?

Replies (26)

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By SteveHa
25th Nov 2020 19:13

Well *** me, who have *** *** thought it.

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By Paul D Utherone
29th Nov 2020 13:37

:D

Only ****ing came here to say too ****ing right we do you ****s

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
26th Nov 2020 09:49

Well I was dragged up in deepest Essex where swearing is just really punctuation and emphasis.

Everytime Rishi stands up in front of a camera I do have a Pavlovian response constructed mainly of words you would not say in front of the queen.

Remember, dont say fuckorbugger in front of the clients

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Quack
By Constantly Confused
26th Nov 2020 10:24

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/practice/general-practice/accountant-con...

I do enjoy bringing this story up :)

I had the pleasure of speaking to the accountant in question once and Googled him afterwards as I couldn't believe he was a real person. Suffice to say his reputation was well deserved!

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By Dib
26th Nov 2020 12:53

As I said at the time, that is just friendly banter in Sheffield!

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By mkowl
27th Nov 2020 09:48

As I often say you can take the accountant out of Sheffield but you can't take Sheffield out the accountant

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By AndrewV12
27th Nov 2020 12:12

That says more about Sheffield than it does the UK. :)

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By rememberscarborough
26th Nov 2020 15:12

Please!! Having worked in the construction and recruitment industries for many years I can tell you anything accountants come out with are tame in the extreme. When you're told where to go with anatomical precession as well as a spattering of brand new words then you know you've been sworn at!!

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By Mr J Andrews
27th Nov 2020 09:54

I've often found that the use of bad or foul language is down to the speaker's inability to make proper use of the Queen's English . Particularly rife nowadays amongst comedians on TV panel shows whereby the inclusion of a four letter word now and again makes them think the otherwise unfunny gag will attract higher canned laughter.
I recall a Board meeting back in the 20th century in which a certain lady used al least ten expletives in putting her point across. This was her usual style. Come my turn , I used at least twelve - some with a far higher disgusting content ; and hitherto unheard of from me. The parenthetical point was made but not minuted .

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By johnjenkins
27th Nov 2020 10:10

Have you ever listened to youg kids playing the xbox or play station with their mates online?

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By legerman
27th Nov 2020 15:57

johnjenkins wrote:

Have you ever listened to youg kids playing the xbox or play station with their mates online?

I'm going back 20 years but I always ensured that my 11/12 year old son was not subjected to hearing me or my wife swear.

Imagine my horror arriving home one day and hearing the following words come from his bedroom, where he was playing Fifa on his Playstation.

"You f****g b****d Rooney, what the f**k do you think you're doing you useless f****r. A loud hoy from myself and I got the reply "ooops sorry dad"

Up to that day I never knew he swore.

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By towat
27th Nov 2020 10:14

B*****ks they've obviously never been to a WI meeting.

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
27th Nov 2020 10:33

Did the survey include members of the Cabinet?

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By flightdeck
27th Nov 2020 10:35

Some while ago we had an American team working with us. They loved everything British particularly language - cockney rhyming, our many accents, our array slang words (try explaining 'bloke' - they think it must be a slight in some subtle, unfathomable way) but most of all they loved our swear words but believed they did more swearing than the Brits. To be fair to them we had been holding back a bit (they were a client team) and it was only something like Wednesday so no guards had yet been dropped.

So we challenged them - you say one, we say one, first one to run out loses. We started when the drinks started, maybe 7pm with words being exchanged at the rate of semi-automatic gunfire. They did quite well but their words were pretty tame really and they quickly tailed off after around an hour. By that time we were starting to warming up and no-one had even gone to the really bad word section. It was a spirited attack by them but, of course, completely doomed from the start. At midnight we broke out big guns that would have made squaddies blink.

They may have better teeth but we Brits have history writ large in our language.

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By AndrewV12
27th Nov 2020 12:15

I always thought Americans preferred 'Oh my Gooouussssh' or 'Do-do' than swearing.

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By AndrewV12
27th Nov 2020 12:17

MMmmm is the rudest word in Britain the same rudest word in the USA.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
27th Nov 2020 11:21

For those of you looking to expand your breadth and depth of swearing, may I highly recommend some CPD reading.

http://viz.co.uk/2018/09/07/40th-anniversary-edition-profanisaurus/

Before studying this in some detail, I never knew there were so many words for, the male or female form, acts of an adult nature, or routine bodily functions.

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
27th Nov 2020 17:13

Haha there is even a board game of it! I wonder if they'll do an, ahem, "Accountants Edition"?

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By snickersinatwix
27th Nov 2020 12:14

I assume this survey was done after the introduction of furlough and the monthly changes to the system (or in November's case, three changes...)

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By Ian McTernan CTA
27th Nov 2020 13:06

accounting, banking and finance

So they lumped in banking and finance and shortened it to 'accounting' for the purposes of the survey....

Everyone knows accountants never swear, it's those %*%&^% bankers and )*&^%&%^ finance people who use all the expletives!

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By LemonJelly
27th Nov 2020 13:11

Thankfuck for that. I thought it was just me.

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By Philip Dykes
27th Nov 2020 14:42

Yes agree ...........Accountants who swear to clients or in other meetings with professionals should be barred from the profession.

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By North East Accountant
27th Nov 2020 15:18

Well we have had the big F word this year...... Furlough.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
27th Nov 2020 15:52

Must admit when I found out we were going to be in tier 3 with no pubs open for December, I used about 50% of my swear allowance in 3 or 4 sentences. [***].

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
27th Nov 2020 17:16

Accountants with Tourettes would make a great Channel 5 program, they could put it on after On Benefits and Proud.

As an aside, do you think Naked Attraction has had an accountant on yet?

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By Caber Feidh
27th Nov 2020 22:34

Perhaps accountants have the most reason to swear. For many years I have been reading the "Any answers" requests for advice on how to deal with PITA clients.

You have my sympathy. I am a chartered engineer and I spent almost all of my career in the scientific civil service where those I worked with were invariably polite, even when expressing extreme annoyance (not with me).

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