History of Accounting in UK |Practice Accountancy Training Courses

History of Accounting in UK


Accounting is documenting financial transactions together with processing, arranging, retrieving, summarizing and presenting the results in different records and analyzes. Agencies, collectors and tax collection firms give the final reports. It is a crucial aspect requires by all the business organizations to carry out valuable decision making and cost planning.

History of accounting in UK

The UK has been a big business centre for centuries, so it should come as no surprise that we have a long accounting history as a nation. Nevertheless, it is for consideration exactly when accountancy first reached these shores.

Romans-First accountants in the UK

Romans were among the first in the UK to create accurate records. Their record of financial documents dates back to 23AD that is much older than any other economic history discovered by archaeologists in the United Kingdom. They kept documentation for payments, supplies and other financial data that was found at Vindolanda fort, located just south of Hadrian’s Wall. The researchers at the fort found essential measurements of their daily cash incomes and resources. Similarly, traders, holders of large estates and those engaged in large-scale trade also held some accounts.

Double-entry bookkeeping

Luca Pacioli published the first book on double-entry bookkeeping from Italy in 1494. Technical knowledge has spread rapidly. In 1553, James Peele published this book. It was a 27-page treatise which was mainly used by the merchants to solve mathematical problems. The printed book contained the symbols of plus and minus for the first time. It coincided with a trade boom that turned Britain into a vast trading country, thereby rapidly spreading demand for skilled bookkeepers and accountants.

Development of joint-stock companies

Many joint-stock companies have started to develop in 1600 that provides accounting data for wider audiences. Moreover, investors without first-hand knowledge of their activities relied on accounts to provide the necessary information. This development also results in the separation of accounting systems for internal (i.e. management accounting) and external (i.e. financial accounting) purposes. Moreover, it also increases the need for auditors to approve foreign accounts independently.

First accounting firm in the UK

Many of the early accountants were purposely moved towards large cities such as Liverpool and London because they realized that these places would have the highest demand for accounting in the future. Moreover, the first accounting company was set up in the naval town of Bristol in 1789.

Formalization of Modern Professional Accounting

Processes existed informally for many years with bookkeepers offering their services without any influence over how successful they were at work. After a series of financial scandals and bankruptcies that took place in the 1840s, things began to change.

The government began to legislate at that time to formalize how companies were set up and ultimately ended up if they were running out of funds. It opened the door for accountants to organize themselves and start modifying their method of working. Consequently, a group of accountants from London, Liverpool and several other cities came together in 1872 and established the Society of Accountants in England. It has expanded the economic activity, and England became the hub of global trade with its naval power.

Furthermore, the Institute of Chartered Accountants was established in England and Wales when Queen Victoria issued a Royal Charter in 1880. Professional conduct guidelines have been developed along with a disciplinary process to implement these standards. Soon this team has allowed the members to use the professional designations like Fellow Chartered Accountant and Associate Chartered Accountant for an eligible member of an accountant's team.

Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution began in Britain and brought the production of transport and technological innovations together with rapid economic growth, which made it the “financial centre of the world”. With the growth of limited liability and large-scale manufacturing and logistics, demand has risen for more technically skilled accountants able to handle the increasingly complex world of international high-speed transactions and figures including depreciation. When companies have grown in popularity, the demand for professional accountancy rose, and the profession rapidly became an integral part of the financial and business system.

Accountants in 20th-century Wars

Most accountants serve in the world wars voluntarily by offering various accounting services for costing and managing war supplies and working on financial committees.

Present accounting scope in the UK

Today, a large number of universities and training organizations are providing accounts and finance qualifications. The accounting profession in the United Kingdom has a vast range as it is a preferred place to perform financial operations. It is due to the presence of highly competitive reputable industries in the country that is providing a large number of opportunities. It clearly shows the high demand for this field in the UK that paves a way to progress and future success of the country.

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