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An accountancy is a company that does accounting. Accountancy can also mean the profession of accounting.

You don’t often hear accounting companies calling themselves accountancies. What a ridiculous thing to say. Obviously, I have no idea what you hear frequently. For all I know, a lunatic accountant may be following you around everywhere and incessantly shouting in your ear, “Our firm is an accountancy.” If so, you have my sympathies. You might want to get a restraining order.

What I meant to say is that I rarely hear accounting companies calling themselves accountancies. And I believe that most other people rarely hear that either, although I have no empirical evidence to back up that statement.

I think the reason that only a few accounting firms refer to themselves as accountancies is that it sounds too haughty. In my mind, there’s a hierarchy of labels accounting firms attach to themselves depending on how snotty they want to sound. The following is what I believe that hierarchy to be:

  1. Accountancy
  2. Accounting firm
  3. Accounting company
  4. Accountants

Then, of course, there’s Fast Freddy’s Accounting is Us Company. Its mottos are, “what the taxman doesn’t know won’t hurt him” and “whatever it is, deduct it.” For tax and legal reasons, you are advised to visit its offices disguised as a plain, brown envelope. I’m not sure how you would label that sort of company. Maybe scumbag.

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