In our last blog, we looked at the ways in which the accountancy sector is changing. This time we’re going to look at the ways in which you can adapt to a changing industry to ensure that you excel in this competitive, but rewarding, profession.
Keep your CPD up to date
Keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the accountancy world is essential, both for your own career progression and to ensure that you offer your company or clients the highest levels of service.
CPD ensures that your technical skills, so important in this age of automation and technological advancement, are current, and a good CPD provider will ensure that you fully understand the challenges that the future will bring. It also allows you to keep up to date with current hot topics, such as changing legislation, both in the UK and worldwide, allowing you to respond in an informed and proactive manner.
If you’ve set your sights on management in the future, CPD will also help you build the skills you need to lead, offering you the ability to harness your own abilities to deal with both career related issues and those of the staff you’re responsible for, enhancing your employability and giving you an advantage in the job market.
Get tech savvy
Technology is moving at a remarkably rapid rate and you need to keep up, or risk being left behind. New technology, such as dedicated finance software, AI, automated systems and cloud computing, brings with it the opportunity for increased productivity, personal growth and career advancement but also a simpler, more efficient client communication, such as being able to take a real-time view of their accounts, and advise accordingly. It can also help in non-compliance issues, making identification and remedial action more effective.
If you haven’t been offered training in any of these systems yet, ask for it. Not only will it help you improve the way you work, offering added value to your clients, it will be a valuable addition to your skillset and prove to be an essential ingredient on your CV.
See the bigger picture
If you’re employed by a large firm, make it your business to understand the whole company, not just your role within it. An understanding of how your employer generates its profits, the wider industry in which it functions, its ethical stance and corporate values will enable you to question whether things can be done better, and offer you the opportunity to make suggestions about positive change.
If possible, also learn about the differing roles within your own department, and gain experience in as many areas as you can. Speak to your line manager about changing your role and your responsibilities when the opportunity arises in order to develop a wider appreciation of the variety of roles available within the organisation. This will not only help you develop your own ideas about how things can be improved, but will also demonstrate your adaptability and initiative. Never be afraid to innovate.
Networking and social media
It’s estimated that between 60-85% of roles are filled by networking, and some industry experts suggest that at least 70% of available roles are not even listed before they’re filled. It makes sense, therefore, to network as early on in your career as possible. Growing your network can benefit you in two ways; firstly, it can be advantageous when it comes to your own career and its future possibilities, and secondly, when you are in the position to recruit your own team.
Conferences, training courses and industry events have always been a great way to network, but today it’s social media that can give you an advantage over your competitors. LinkedIn, of course, is a vital resource for professionals in a wide variety of careers, offering members advice, tips, talking points and industry news, but it makes sense to have a professional online presence on other platforms too, separate from your personal accounts. Follow industry professionals and your peers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and don’t be afraid to join in the discussions and add your own, polite, points. Connect with people you admire, rather than just those who you think will be useful, and cultivate a polished persona that reflects your skills and your ambitions.
The soft skill shuffle
Soft skills are the ones that will oil the wheels in your professional life and add value to it, so they’re essential to the smooth functioning of any department or organisation. They include, but are not limited to, such things as:
Communication – it’s crucial that you can communicate effectively, not only with your colleagues but also in a wider sense – think presentations to potential clients, report writing and inter-departmental information. Explaining the story simply will enhance your employability and promotion potential.
Teamwork – nobody can work in splendid isolation, and good results rely on good teamwork. Try to develop the habit of collaboration, engendering an ethos of teamwork, and understand that your efforts are part of a common goal. Teamwork is not only essential to the organisation that you work for but also to you as an individual, playing a positive role in your own morale and increased productivity.
Problem solving – many accountants’ work now involves more than inputting figures on a spreadsheet, and focuses on providing advice to clients – each with their own unique and complex set of circumstances. The ability to problem solve, to think around the issue and arrive at a workable solution, requires experience but also mental agility, and is a skill which can set you apart from those who don’t possess it.
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.