Over the last year we’ve all faced greater changes than most of us have ever experienced in our lives before, leaving the future uncertain and many people asking questions about how we move forward. We’ve adapted because we’ve had to, not only globally but personally and professionally. So, with these changes in mind, how is accountancy - the fundamental building block of any business - facing the future?
It can be an overused buzzword, yet is increasingly important from a business perspective. Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (https://www.wbcsd.org/) is advocating for change from the bottom line up.
In a speech he gave at The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Forum, Bakker argued that corporate accounting must be aware of and transparent about how a company makes its money, not just focus on the money that it has made, and that social capital and natural capital needs a far greater emphasis.
Bakker suggests that sustainability must be integrated into the profession, not just left to the sustainability department, and warns that by omitting such goals businesses or economies may be overwhelmed by the risk profiles facing them. Already, measures are being taken by organisations such as the TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures), established by the Financial Stability Board and the IFRS (The International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation) are implementing procedures and recommendations which integrate sustainability into financial decisions, eventually moving towards an international mandatory framework.
Ultimately, Bakker argues, the responsibility will fall on the younger generation of accountancy professionals, those aged between 25 and 40. This age group, he suggests, can be pivotal in shaping the rules, creating a greater understanding of ‘true pricing’ and ‘true costing’ and into capital markets leading to more informed decisions about the challenges we all face.
What you need to grow your role
In today’s competitive and fast-moving job market, how can you make sure your skills help you grow your role?
Critical thinking: the discipline of self-analysis, self-assessment and self-correcting thinking is becoming increasingly more important in the discipline of accountancy, which is becoming much more than just ‘number crunching’. Today’s newly-qualified accountants are expected to enhance their decision making by making use of data analysis to inform the wider implications of the financial information they produce.
Communication skills: ‘soft skills’ such as effective communication are difficult to define, even harder to learn, but essential for career progression. Communication can be verbal or written, and can involve presentations, reports or contributing to meetings. It’s essential that you can convey the complex information at your fingertips to others within your organisation as well as to clients – what may seem simple to you can be impenetrable to someone else so take the time to brush up on this vital skill.
Digital upskilling: With many younger people within accountancy now classed as ‘digital natives’ (i.e. having grown up surrounded by and innately aware of how to use technology) the expectation is that they will adapt to new processes and systems instinctively. However, if you’re not trained in how the latest robotic process automation (RPA), for example, can assist you in your role, there’s a chance you may fall behind. Make sure you’ve got the skills to get ahead.
Tech leads the way
Many of us have relied heavily on technology over the last 16 months – working from home has introduced us to the need for robust and ergonomic hardware (monitors, desktop computers and keyboards), quality accessories (noise cancelling headphones, webcams or microphones) and video conferencing software (Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Chat). However, many leading financial organisations have also realised the need for technology to help us out of the pandemic and into economic recovery.
These investments have worked in two ways for business. Firstly, back-office platforms have allowed businesses to function during the most challenging time for business that we’ve faced in recent history – colleagues have been able to work from home, continuing their vital work and reducing the impact felt by customers or clients. Secondly, investing in customer-facing technology (the unseen interface between the customer and the organisation, which allows the user experience to run smoothly) has allowed continued high levels of customer service and has attracted new customers or increased sales.
Increased investments in things such as Cloud systems and technology which offers software as a service were already happening before the Covid-19 pandemic and businesses that did invest, that made a virtue of resilience and agility, found themselves best placed to both survive and thrive in these unprecedented times.
Need help or advice on how to stay ahead in your accountancy role, or looking for the best talent on the market? Get in touch with us - we can help.