Famous accountants to inspire you

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Could you be the next David Ross or John D Rockefeller?

“Who?” We hear you ask.

There are some very successful and famous people who’ve done a massive amount for business, and they all started out with an accountancy qualification.

John D Rockefeller

You may have heard of the Rockefeller Centre in New York, but you may not know that it’s named after James D Rockefeller. He made his fortune in the oil industry, and started out as a bookkeeper with a strong head for numbers.

He was an industrial colossus and an avid philanthropist, cementing his place as the richest man in US history. All from being a bookkeeper.

David Ross

You might not know the name, but you’ve more than likely heard of Carphone Warehouse. David Ross used £6,000 of his savings to set up the company with a school friend. But before becoming a billionaire, thanks to the mobile phone giant, he qualified as a chartered accountant.

Frank J Wilson

Al Capone’s gangster empire was vast and ever-increasing. It seemed like no one could touch him. However, one forensic accountant scoured more than two million financial records to finally bring Capone’s world crashing down around him. And that man was Frank J Wilson. He set the precedent for the significance of forensic accounting today.

Tony Fernandes

Born in Kuala Lumpur, Fernandes would grow up following his mum to Tupperware parties, lighting an entrepreneurial flame that never went out. After being sent to England for schooling, he went on to do an accounting degree.

He initially worked for Virgin Atlantic, then Warner Music, but left to pursue his dream of starting a no-frills airline. Which he did. He founded AirAsia and then started a hotel chain. He’s also involved in setting up an F1 team and stars on the Asian version of The Apprentice.

Bob Parsons

Heard of GoDaddy, the online registrar and web hosting company. Bob Parson set it up in 1997 after working in IT following his accountancy qualification. He then set up YAM Worldwide Inc, a private lending and investment company, specialising in commercial real-estate lending. His net worth is approximately £2.6billion. Not bad for an accountant!

Think you’ve got what it takes to go down in accountancy history? Feel free to check out our AAT and ACCA courses.