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Accountants more likely to suffer from stress

17th Sep 2010
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Feeling tense? The Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association offers tips for accountants struggling with stress.
More than eight out of ten accountants are suffering from stress related problems, according to new research from the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA).

In a recent poll commissioned by CABA, 82% of accountants said they suffered from stress, with 77% citing long working hours as a cause for concern. Meanwhile 71% said their work/life balance was poor. 

More than a quarter of accountants said they drink in excess of the recommended level, while an eight admitted to misusing drugs in the last year. The study also revealed that the suicide rate for female accountants is three times the average for other occupations.

 “Accountancy is a profession where long hours are common and excessive demands are frequently made by employers on staff. The current economic climate has not made this any situation any easier, with many feeling that their jobs are under threat,” said Kath Haines, chief executive at CABA.

The research was carried out ahead of National Stress Awareness Day, a national event organised by the International Stress Management Association which takes place on 3 November. CABA will be holding two regional workshops, one on time management to be held in Brighton and another on assertiveness which will take place in Manchester, designed to help accountants manage their stress related issues.

“Accountancy is a high pressure profession but employers need to ensure that they are monitoring their staff for signs of excessive stress. It makes no sense to pile more work onto someone who already cannot cope – in terms of both the impact on their work and their personal life,” said Haines.

Top ten stress busters

For those suffering with stress related issues, the CABA offers the following tips:

  1. Have a support network
  2. Make sure your diet is healthy
  3. Exercise
  4. Sleep well
  5. Practice deep breathing
  6. Improve your posture – release muscle tension
  7. Use relaxation techniques
  8. Reduce caffeine intake
  9. Reduce alcohol intake
  10. Review and reduce use of over the counter medication

Details about National Stress Awareness Day and advice on coping with stress and associated issues such as unemployment, debt, drink, drug and alcohol can be found at and

CABA holds a rolling programme of workshops designed to help accountants cope with stress. More details can be found at


Replies (6)

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By Albert Camus
18th Sep 2010 19:17


When I suffered a complete mental breakdown that culminated in me being sectioned and my business being taken over for free, a good friend of mine - who is also a CA - contacted CABA to see if they could help me in any way and was told that they could do nothing and offer no support. I subsequently tried myself upon my discharge and was met with a wail of indifference and silence. CABA - in my opinion - IS NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE.

Albert Camus

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By cymraeg_draig
19th Sep 2010 18:39

Work to live - dont live to work.

Like any profession accountants need to realise that they work to live, they do not live to work.

At the first sign of stress a decent employer (and there are very few around) should immediately recognise the signs and take steps to reduce the stress levels for that member of staff.  Being "stressed" does NOT mean they are inferior, unsuited, or "cant cope". It simply means that a combination (usually of work stress AND some private problems) have combined to push them to the point where they feel they cannot cope. 

Temporarily lightening their work load may help - BUt its important not to let them feel they are losing control of their work as that can add to the stress.  The LAST thing you should do is anything that makes them feel their job or their future is under threat, or, that they are in any way less well thought of. 

A quiet chat, nothing formal, just a chat by the coffee machine or whilst outside on a "cigarrette break" or whatever may give a clue of outside pressures. Maybe a relative is ill - in which case some instant holiday might be an idea - or maybe it's some money worry, in which case guaranteeing a bank loan, or even lending them money yourselvf, might be the answer (you need to know and trust your staff to do this).

Usually its something simple and easily resolved that is causing the problem. 

We've had people stressed because of car troubles - answer - lend them a company car.

We've had people stressed because of financial problems - answer - we've sorted them out lower mortgage payment, bank loans etc.

We've had people stressed by work - answer - reschedule their duties to something they are happy with.

We've had people worried about exams - answer - study leave and mentoring.

Sorting out stress is usually not a great problem - recognising it and catching it before it becomes a serious problem is the key.  The problem is that the vast majority of managers and business owners dont recognise signs of stress because they dont mix with their staff, if they do mix their staff feel they are unaproachable, and because they dont know their staff as individuals and people they dont recognise changes in behaviour or attitude.



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By User deleted
20th Sep 2010 15:59

CABA are unable to discuss individual cases, due to confidentiality issues. However, we can say that our stress support services, introduced around two years ago in response to the needs of chartered accountants, have helped hundreds of people both through courses and individual support. For more information on how CABA may be able to help you, please telephone: 01788 556366 or visit Please note that CABA are unable to provide technical business support.

Peggy Jenkins, Head of Operations, CABA

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By Albert Camus
20th Sep 2010 20:06


My problems started in May 2008, came to a head in Sept 2008, were formally diagnosed in Jan 2009. My friend contacted you in March 2009 and I contacted you in May 2009. This is within the last two years in which your scheme has been running. I was told, directly and indirectly through my friend, that CABA could not help me in any way. My experience remains unaltered by your comments.

Albert Camus

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By sluglet
30th Sep 2010 12:30

Only a quarter???

"...More than a quarter of accountants said they drink in excess of the recommended level... "

Only a quarter??? Can't help thinking a lot of the remaining 75% are being less than honest! 

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By lukecurtis
07th Nov 2017 13:15

I am CGMA through CIMA, I have just established a tool aimed at professionals in need of support please visit

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