Any organisation run by the government and funded by tax-payers’ money can be classified as public sector. Many ICAEW members work in or with the public sector to deliver public priorities and strong public finances. ICAEW acts in the public interest to support strong financial leadership and better financial management across the public sector – featuring transparency, accountability, governance and ethics – to ensure that public money is spent wisely and that public finances are sustainable. Accountants are among the world’s most sought after professionals. In fact, accounting and finance ranks seventh on the list of roles that are hardest to fill globally, according to a survey by recruiter ManpowerGroup. Meanwhile, rapid societal and technological change is transforming both the employment landscape and what individuals expect from jobs, threatening to further exacerbate the talent shortage. In many parts of the world, public sector employers are simply unable to pay salaries that compete with those on offer in the private sector. What, then, is the public sector pulling power? Unmatched influence In the public sector finance professionals have a far-reaching social impact that cannot easily be replicated in the private sector. Finance professionals play a crucial role in delivering public services and ensuring that taxpayers’ money is used effectively. They need to have the same analytical and strategic skills as their private sector peers. The right mindset It is mindset, rather than technical expertise, which is probably the principal differentiator between finance professionals in public service and those who work in the private sector. In the private sector, you have the responsibility of helping the corporation to reach its goals and provide shareholders with the maximum return on their investment. In public finance, you have to deal with an entire country’s budget, and you are impacting the lives of many more people. You’re not just looking at shareholders’ returns. Another important difference is that public sector accountants often have to accommodate and manage the expectations of a very wide range of stakeholders. This requires an ability to communicate and collaborate effectively. Complex challenges Today public sector bodies around the world are navigating widespread technological disruption alongside a range of other challenges. These include severe budgetary constraints, extreme weather events arising from climate change, and demographic developments such as ageing populations. As a result, public sector finance professionals may have to deal with problems of far greater complexity and magnitude than those in the private sector. It is for this reason that public sector finance professionals need to be innovative. One example of how public sector finance professionals are becoming more innovative is through their use of outcome-based budgeting, by allocating money to the areas of government that achieve the best results and measuring these outcomes to make informed decisions in the future. Recruitment and retention Using the power of impact to attract people to work in the public sector is one thing; retaining them is another. There is always a risk that talented people will leave a public sector role if it doesn’t meet their expectations. The public sector is more likely to attract and retain talent if it offers clear career paths, an excellent working environment and the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. In certain jurisdictions, a further consideration is the security of tenure that a career in public finance can offer. This may compensate for lower pay and make it an appealing proposition for some people. Ultimately, the kind of people who are really suited to joining – and building their careers in – the public sector will not be motivated by money alone. They will be motivated by the desire to make a positive difference to their communities. Be part of the ICAEW Public Sector Community For accountants and finance professionals working in or with the public sector, this Community is the go-to for the key resources and guidance on the issues affecting practitioners like you. With a range of dynamic services, we provide valuable tools, resources and support tailored specifically to your sector. Membership is free and open to everyone, including non-ICAEW members. https://www.icaew.com/groups-and-networks/communities/public-sector
The impact of working remotely or as part of a hybrid team during the pandemic is having an effect on career progression and development. By being remote and by being put into positions now where we are connecting online and effectively spending lots of time remotely, we’re missing all that nuancing, all that non-verbal communication that gives context and depth to our conversations. 15% of our communication is verbal and 85% is body language. And often they’re the ways in which somebody can shine, in which you get spotted and you can really enhance your career. From behind a screen, it’s difficult to show your energy, discuss ideas and standout. Remote working for younger employees will be more difficult by the fact that they’re unable to learn from colleagues without that face-to-face guidance, coaching and mentoring, and it’s impacting generations differently. It is impacting generations differently. Particularly for the younger generations, you learn on the job by watching others through osmosis, by picking it up and running with the ball. And if you’re not around lots of other people in an actual team environment, all under the same roof, a lot of those cues, that learning on the job, absorbing and seeing what other people are doing, is going to be so much harder. So, they are going to potentially miss out. With the reduction in face-to-face visibility, it can understandably be very difficult to prove your value in your role to your team and to the wider organisation. So how can you successfully prove your worth? With a lot of the interaction in remote team working and meetings, you must treat the meetings the same as you would if you were in an organisation and walking into a big boardroom, and you need to go in there prepared, shine and have everything ready. It is about making this new online presence work for you. Arriving on time is important. Take a few minutes before you click on that start button to just settle yourself and bring your attention. Just because you’re all remote doesn’t mean you can’t connect, so take the same time and trouble to greet whoever’s in the room with your full attention as you would, if you were literally physically in the room with them, because people like people who are present and who engage with them. And everybody worries about the impression they’re making and that’s why many people go into meetings and they can’t remember the person’s name because they’re not present at that moment about when that person actually says, “Hello, I’m Helen”, and face to face you’d actually shake their hand. It’s the same. So be present, turn up, settle yourself, and really take time to greet the person there. Obviously, there are things about how you look, but one of the big issues is resisting the urge to multitask. Behave the way you would if you were sat around a board table, you arguably would not be checking your emails as it would not be very career-enhancing. Also multitasking is really draining, it really leads to screen fatigue because you’re having to turn up in a new way. And if you’re then multitasking and not even concentrating on what’s being said, you’re just pulling yourself in so many different directions. Do make the effort to look professional, don’t hide behind your avatar, be present and be visible. How to communicate success and progress on projects to maintain visibility whilst working remotely? How you “turn up” is telling more than anything about who you are and your attitude. Be engaging, bring ideas, don’t be afraid to have your voice. And if you don’t really feel that you’ve got something amazing to add, then questions are the answer. If you’re asking a question that shows you’re engaging, it shows you’re thinking about it, it shows you’re wanting to learn more. So, you don’t have to think that you have to turn up and be able to say something stunningly exciting because you maybe don’t truly understand what’s being discussed or you don’t have that much to add, but you can always help the person leading the meeting or the rest of the team by engaging them and being engaging. And questions are the way forward, and that is a way to shine, asking good questions. Virtual meetings are our primary form of communication at the moment, how is it impacting professional relationships and affecting career development? Leaders and managers need to be very aware of engaging their people in many different ways to bring out the best in them and if you’re somebody going up the career ladder, you need to be asking for all those points of interaction. So along with team meetings, have one-to-one meetings, have smaller groups have breakout meetings because different objectives within the business or within your own career path, aren’t always going to be met in the same way, just as within an organisation, you wouldn’t always go into the boardroom with thirty people to discuss a very specific, small part of a project or a small part of what your career enhancement is. You’d probably have a one-on-one meeting with your line manager or with a peer or with a mentor. Replicate all these good business practices. And it’s a two-way street. If you’re the one who wants to progress, speak up. Ask for a virtual coffee, making it a little less formal, and say,” I really feel that because of our present situation, I’m not really learning through osmosis or learning through being around people. How about we meet for a virtual coffee every other day, and maybe we can just talk about some issues that turn up within the business or how you would tackle things if you’d have been at my stage in my career?”. This might be that time that you’d come away with some gem, that a formal agenda or meeting wouldn’t do. It's about consciously engineering these meetings that maybe we took for granted. So, it’s consciously engineering some of the less formal, more nuanced, learning through osmosis nonverbal communication. It is not missing the nonverbal communication in those moments that give context and depth to everything you learn and all of that is important for career enhancement. How important is strong written verbal communication to succeed when working remotely? For example, is how you communicate via email and instant messaging platforms just as important as verbal communication? It is. What email lacks is the tonality of voice because it’s just words and I’m sure that you have probably sent emails and it’s caused offence for somebody who’s taken it the wrong way, and you absolutely didn’t mean to do that, or you’ve received them. You miss that nuance; you miss that context, and it can be very easy to get offended or to cause offence on emails. So, you must be very careful about not trying to be nuanced in email, or you must literally spell it out. To literally say, “I am really delighted with what we’re doing” – and never used the word ‘but’, it’s a ‘but’ free zone – “and I would just like to drill down a little bit more on the following five points. Why don’t we jump onto a virtual coffee and do that?” So, you can use that communication. Of course, emails are great, you’ve got a record of something and you keep on top of it because it’s written down. How can you go about sharing your career goals with your manager and that you would like to be considered for a promotion? With the playing field going through quite a bit of change, with economies across the world struggling and priorities possibly lying elsewhere for businesses and managers at the moment. You have to be realistic that you might be going to have a conversation with a line manager who has their hands tied at the moment because of all of this uncertainty and difficulty. Go with the grace of saying, “Look, I realise at the moment, this probably isn’t possible or I realise that at the moment we are not in an environment where me being promoted and having a pay rise is even tenable, and I do want to say that when we do return to some normality or when things do change, or even if this becomes our new normal, I’m ready, I’m absolutely raring to go. I feel I have all of this to offer. And I would love to have this conversation again in two to three months’ time. I am going to use that to even add more skills and make myself even more valuable to this organisation. Therefore, I was thinking could I be trained in x or could I be trained in y? Or could I have a virtual coffee with you? Or could I have a virtual coffee with your boss once a month?” It is about showing that you are an asset and you’re valuable, but you do understand the realities of the situation. For many a big part of feeling motivated and engaged at work is the positive reinforcements that you receive throughout the day Absolutely, it’s hard to always be totally self-motivated on your own. Extroverts within an organisation get energy from being around others and can find it quite difficult because they lose that sense of connection. Whereas introverts typically need that time alone to build energy, to face the group situation. And neither preference is right or wrong, it’s just that some of us function in some way, some of us function in another way. Find all those ways to connect that you can, but the most important connection is your connection with yourself. A lot of well-performing people get burnt out because they are very busy being brilliant and connecting with everything, everybody and turning up, but there’s nothing left within them. Every day, more than ever, particularly because of the potentially draining nature of being in front of a screen or in online meetings repeatedly, connect with yourself. Ask, what makes me feel good about me? How do I fill up from the inside out? How do I nurture myself? How important is it to upskill to demonstrate your willingness to learn Using this lockdown time to learn and upskill, is a mindset. If you’re not commuting don’t just switch your commute for more work, use that time to work on you, to up-skill you. The skills that are going to take you to where you want to go. Now that might be within your organisation, or it might not be, it might be external to your organisation - always think about is what are my transferable skills. Again, this depends on your ultimate career path, your goals, and maybe the way your organisation treats you. Treat it as your trajectory and an opportunity. The other side of what seems to be difficult is what is my opportunity? Now is a crucial time to be building your personal brand too to maintain visibility. You must have consistency about who you are because you are your brand. It’s not just about how you look, be consistent and be professional. Dress, behave and look the way that you would like to be, maybe the level above where you are now. Keep your word about the little things and the big things. So, if you say you’re going to do something, do it absolutely before and ahead of time, or decline and explain why not. Turn up early, always let people know you’re the reliable one, be consistent in what you say and do. That is important, that creates a brand.
A financial controller is an important role within a business, but what is the role and what are they expected to do in it? ICAEW delves deeper in this financial controller guide. What is a Financial Controller? The financial controller (FC) is a vital and senior role in the accounting or finance department. Usually reporting to a finance director or chief financial officer, the financial controller has responsibility for the accounting operations of a business. What does a Financial Controller do? A financial controller oversees all accounting functions in a business. They make sure that all accounting records are appropriately kept and that every reported result complies with accounting standards and legislation. Part of their duties includes coordinating and managing the preparation of budget and financial forecasts, preparing monthly statements and other regular financial reports. It’s also a role where you must ensure your finance team operates with a robust control environment and being the go-to contact for all external auditors. As a senior role, FCs contribute to the financial strategy of a business and will be pivotal in the development of all internal control policies and procedures in the company. It’s possible that they may have responsibility for financial risk management and are expected to work alongside other senior leadership team members to create risk minimisation plans. They contribute to ensuring all financial systems are fit for purpose, are maintained, and can spot any potential areas for improvement. Key Financial Controller Responsibilities The primary responsibilities of a financial controller vary, but mostly include: Managing all day to day accounting operations - this usually includes Billing, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, General Ledger and Counsel, Cost Accounting, Inventory Accounting and Revenue Recognition. Coordinating the preparation of budget and financial forecasting and reporting any variances. Preparing and publishing all monthly financial statements. Creating reports (annual and monthly) which identifies results, trends and forecasts. Ensuring all transactions are recorded, filed and reported properly. Making sure reporting meets compliant standards with statutory law and financial regulations. Documenting business processes and accounting policies to maintain internal controls. Streamlining and improving all operations and accounting systems. Coordinating the management of cash flow, debt and debt collection. Supervising and managing financial department staff Overseeing the audit process and liaising with external personnel where required. Support the business with the financial strategy and decision-making processes Helping the CFO in presenting reports to board members, senior executives, and board members. Importance of a Financial Controller Financial controllers play a pivotal role in keeping a company’s financial reporting, financial planning, debt financing and budget management organised. They are one of the most important staff members in a business, as their skills allow the CFO and finance directors to focus on taking the business further. The FC also controls most of the reporting and financial optimisation of the company. Skills Required for the Job Financial controllers are expected to have incredible analytical, numerical and problem-solving skills and must be able to work to tight deadlines. An FC should have strong personal and communication skills alongside confident leadership and management skills. They should also show a strong business acumen, and the ability to influence people at all levels. Career Opportunities for a Financial Controller The financial controller position is a vital one within a company, no matter the sector or jurisdiction. Progression for an FC usually leads to becoming a finance director, chief financial officer (CFO) or even a chief executive officer (CEO), if they demonstrate good commercial awareness. Competencies of a Financial Controller There are high-level competencies required for the financial controller role: Audit and Assurance Must advise on and communicate effectively the role and scope of all audit and assurance engagements to stakeholders. Applies regulatory, legal, professional and ethical standards in relation to audit and assurance engagements. Plans and prepares for audit and assurance engagements. Performs audit and assurance engagements. Reviews and reports back on the findings of audit and assurance engagements. Guiding Operations Corporate and Business Reporting Prepares financial statements, corporate financial, and integrated reports for external stakeholders using appropriate technology. Leads decision making by analysing, evaluating and communicating financial performance and positions of entities. Prepares financial statements for groups of entities using appropriate accounting software. Monitors, evaluates and advises on accounting standards regulations, conceptual and financial reporting frameworks. Financial Management Monitors developments in global trade, markets, business practices and the current economic climate and suggests the improvements needed in the financial and risk management of a business. Advises on current business asset valuations, capital projects and investments through the right analytical qualitative and quantitative techniques. Can see, evaluate and advise on alternate sources of business finance and different ways of raising finance. Communicates and advises what impact financial decision making is having on developments in regulation, ethics and governance. Assesses and advises on the right strategies to manage business and organisational performance in relation to business and finance risk while communicating the impact effectively. Governance, Risk and Control Evaluates all internal structures and governance to protect the interests of stakeholders in the long term. Recommends the right strategies to ensure the organisation adheres to governance structures and applies best practice internal controls. Highlights and manages risk appropriately. Makes use of risk management strategies with the best interests of the company and its stakeholders in mind. Monitors and applies legislation, policies, and procedures relevant to the organisation. Leadership and Management Applies the right leadership strategies to deliver business objectives. Manages and motivates people to optimise performance and effectiveness. Collaborates and supports the company to achieve the latest objectives for an organisation, while using the appropriate digital resources. Is proactive and strategic in anticipating organisational needs while recognising the wider business environment. Management Accounting Uses development and performance management across the wider business and technological environment, as part of the strategic planning and implementation. Directs performance in the company through selecting and measuring financial and non-financial performance indicators. Collaborates on all tactical and organisational areas involved with budgeting, control, capital investments, resource management and people. Consults on design and use of the latest technology and information systems to evolve decision making and organisational performance. Strategy and Innovation Use business and commercial acumen awareness to deliver business objectives. Can suggest appropriate strategic options where sustainable plans and objectives can be developed. Evaluates, justifies, and puts strategic options in place. Uses various innovative methods to implement strategy and manage change. If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have the latest financial controller jobs which you can apply for online. New roles are posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear.
Get better sleep. Start a new workout routine. Practice mindfulness. As you make resolutions to improve your life, you might also find yourself setting some goals around your career, including exploring the employment market. But you can’t simply wish your way to a more fulfilling career. You have to work at it. To help you find a position in 2021 that matches your skills, experience and interests, start working toward these job search goals now: Goal #1: Update your CV and LinkedIn profile You can probably think of a million things you’d rather be doing than writing a CV. But you’ll do yourself a favour if you have an up-to-date document at your fingertips. One mistake people frequently make is to wait to revise their CV until they find a job opportunity that interests them. That prevents them from applying for the position right away. And by the time they have an updated version ready to submit, it may be too late. So, don’t delay. While you’re at it, review your LinkedIn profile and make sure it reflects your most recent professional accomplishments. Your profile is essentially your online CV, and many employers search for candidates on LinkedIn as part of their recruiting efforts. You want your profile to reflect the same information as your traditional CV. Another advantage of having a polished LinkedIn profile? Recruiters often use LinkedIn to identify passive job seekers. With a solid online profile, you’ll increase the likelihood that a recruiter will take a closer look at you. Goal #2: Strengthen your skill set To realise your job search goals, you need to be ready to compete for the roles you want, of course. And no matter your chosen industry or career, developing an in-demand skill or pursuing a certification can help you to stand out as a candidate. Pursuing professional development shows initiative and a commitment to learning, as well as an understanding of what it takes to excel in your field. It also makes it easier for you to answer the question that all hiring managers are likely to ask in one form or another: “How can you add value to the organisation?” Possessing certain abilities and credentials can also help you negotiate a higher salary. (Robert Half’s Salary Guide offers insight into how much more employers are willing to pay professionals with coveted skills and certifications for certain roles.) Goal #3: Prioritise job satisfaction It’s a good time to assess your job search goals — as well as your personal aspirations — and determine exactly what type of employment opportunity to seek. Many professionals are doing that as they look ahead to a new year — and leave a very disruptive one behind. Perhaps you’d like to work in a different industry, for example? Or take on a more fulfilling role with greater responsibility? Maybe you’re looking for a remote work opportunity that provides a flexible schedule? Formulate a clear idea of what you’re aiming for, so you can better focus your search for a new position. Goal #4: Audit your online presence You can assume all potential employers will review your LinkedIn profile (refer to Goal #1). But some will also look at other channels to see if they can form a more complete picture of you as a job candidate. Consider how you present yourself on social media and online forums. You may need to do some digital housecleaning. Make sure all information is current and accurate and presents you in the best possible light. If there’s anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see — photos from a vacation or your unfiltered thoughts about a politician or a sports team’s poor performance, for example — review your privacy settings. Goal #5: Expand your professional network Your professional network can play a critical role in your ability to achieve your job search goals. In lieu of in-person networking during the pandemic, look for virtual events hosted by professional or alumni organisations, or other groups relevant to your profession or industry. Also, reach out to new contacts on LinkedIn and ask trusted colleagues, mentors and friends for their recommendations. Be both strategic and genuine in your requests to make connections. And don’t stop nurturing ties with the professional contacts you already have. Goal #6: Be persistent Most employers today are taking great care to choose job candidates who are likely to thrive in their unique organisation. So, even if you’re a top candidate for a job, it may take weeks and several rounds of interviewing before you hear back about a final decision. Don’t get discouraged. But don’t just wait around for an employer to make up their mind. Stay in contact with the hiring manager. Continue networking. Keep applying to other jobs that interest you. And consider building a relationship with a recruiting professional. After all, nothing is certain until you’ve signed on the dotted line. Best of luck in realising your job search goals — and achieving all your other 2021 goals!
Like many ‘soft’ skills, the power of presence is something some seem to be born with and others need to work at. Some people walk into a room and immediately appear to own it. Others stand in a corner and wait to be approached. But why is having an impressive presence so important? And why are accountants often so bad at it? Scott Johnston of ‘Find Your Presence’ helps accountants and other professionals to project themselves with impressive personal presence. He explains it is because your personal presence impacts on all your conversations, presentations and interpersonal communications. As professionals we need: The power to pitch The power to negotiate To avoid overconfidence Pitching The way you pitch is influenced by your personal style, but everyone requires a balance in order to be compelling and impressive but not too pushy. Pitching requires using our emotions, eloquence and voice in each of the three types of pitch you are making, explains Johnston, even though they all have different end goals. Sales presentations have a structure and the aim is to impress your prospect, not just present information. Your pitch is to draw out the benefits for them rather than giving a potted history of your firm since 1066. In other words, you need to “sell not tell”. The ideal outcome is more business now. Sharing new ideas with your team is another form of pitching. This time the aim is to empathise rather than to impress. The outcome should be a stronger team that feels heard and understood. Networking is less formal than a sales pitch and needs to focus on relationship building rather than selling. Whether it is a 40-second introduction or a longer conversation, the aim is to “be heard, remembered, and referred” in order to improve your future sales funnel. Negotiating Scott believes negotiating is about your mindset as well as your skillset – something he learned as a barrister before he became a speaker and trainer. A two-sided negotiation should mean we are open to others’ ideas and they to ours, but this may not be so easy if one party comes across as too pushy or too socially anxious. Every human interaction has some form of negotiation, as we are always seeking to build relationships and rapport. These negotiations may consist of a quick chat or we may need to deploy all our negotiating skills. Deploying a “computer says no” attitude is not a negotiation and we need to consider the power of emotions whenever possible. We negotiate with other people’s emotions via words, body language, voice etc. There are very few win-lose scenarios in accountancy, so it should usually be possible to negotiate positively and aim for a win-win with clients, colleagues or commercial partners. When dealing with conflict the aim of the negotiation is to build bridges and move on. Overconfidence Whilst many accountants are reserved, or even shy, others may need to tone it down. This can stem from overcompensating due to feelings of insecurity, so we need to be self-aware. While being forthright might get results in the short-term, a less-abrasive approach will produce better long-term results. We need a mindset of awareness of ourselves and others. When speaking or writing, it is important to put ourselves into other people’s shoes. Often what we mean to say isn’t the message that is delivered. Tone it down and demonstrate your skill with confidence but without showing off. Show up – if we’re unprepared or underconfident Show off – can put people off Showtime – is when we work congenially with clients as an impressive professional. If you’re prone to overconfidence, it may be helpful to tone it down so it doesn’t offend or even hurt others. Aim to radiate a degree of warmth and approachability. You can be taken seriously without being overbearing. Have fun, let others speak up, and actively listen rather than just waiting to speak. As professionals we all need what Scott describes as Presencivity. Whether you feel as though you’re hiding and need to find your voice in order to begin presenting, or whether you have plateaued and need to develop an impressive personal presence that is both warm and professional so that everybody listens, this is a soft skill that we all need to develop.
As technology continues to transform the accountancy profession, ICAEW continues to seek and embrace the new opportunities it presents. Data is exploding. Over the past few years, the volume and depth of data that accounting and finance professionals have had to deal with have become vast. The growth of its importance has only accelerated in 2020, as we've all suddenly had to adapt to a remote and predominantly digital way of working. This trend was brought to the fore by Finance in a Digital World – launched back in 2018 – which explores the major disruptors to the profession and the impact they are having on the work we do and how we do it. Technological change is nothing new – we've all experienced it throughout our working lives. What is different now, however, is the amount of data and its availability to businesses of all sizes, and the technology and computing power that enables us to turn this raw data into useful information. The ability to accurately predict future trends is a priceless asset to any business. But it's not just about analysing the data; it's about using it intelligently to answer practical business questions and effectively communicating the findings back to the business to inform decision-making. We should not underestimate the skills required to take information and explain clearly and concisely to colleagues what it means and how to act upon it. The recent World Economic Forum' Future of Jobs' report underpins many of these beliefs, but what surprised me is the speed of change it predicts. It forecasts that the 'double-disruption' scenario of increasing automation in tandem with the COVID-19 recession will result in a significant shift in tasks, jobs and skills within the next five years. Audit and accountancy feature in the top four areas impacted. Data analytics and data science are listed as the biggest areas of growth. This is something our profession must take very seriously. Encouragingly, the massive take-up of our Data Analytics Community, launched last year, suggests many members recognise the very real need to adapt and upskill in this critical area. Today, I'm proud to announce that we are taking the next step with the launch of the ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programme. The programme has been developed specifically for finance professionals and explores data analytics as a process for answering business problems or questions rather than as a pure data exploratory exercise. Operating entirely online and developed in collaboration with ICAEW Partner in Learning, Kaplan Financial, this programme will upskill participants with the practical skills and understanding of data analytics you need to better support your business and clients by providing evidence-based, forward-looking insights and assurance that help decision making. With an already well-established knowledge base and skillset in business and finance paired with commercial acumen, I believe chartered accountants are perfectly positioned to adapt, thrive and lead in this area. Our new certificate programme will help you do just that. Find out more about the ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programme here.
Digital transformation in many organisations has accelerated this year. The need for accountants with data analytics skills has never been higher. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) recent Future of Jobs Report 2020 explores how automation, in tandem with the COVID-19 recession, is creating a ‘double-disruption’ scenario. The report forecasts a significant shift in tasks, jobs and skills within the next five years, with accounting and auditing being in the top four areas impacted, and data analytics and data science being the biggest area of growth. This trend is echoed in recent figures from accounting and finance recruitment firm Robert Half, which show one in three employers are redesigning roles in direct response to the pandemic, with the focus on digital, technical and soft skills. With the WEF’s view of significant change over such a short timeframe, never has the need to upskill been more urgent. For finance and accounting teams, this means a greater focus on business planning and analysis. This comes hand-in-hand with a digital ‘levelling up’ of businesses, with two in five leaders committing to fast-tracking digital transformation in the second half of the year, according to Robert Half. An EY survey came to similar conclusions: 57% of respondents said predictive and prescriptive analytics skills were critical. Historically, data analytics was the domain of other departments, such as marketing and IT, says Fraser Nicol, Partner, Business Technology Consulting for top 10 accounting and business advisory firm Azets. With the digital transformation agenda accelerating, the data available to support decision making is growing. “Finance functions first need to be able to use data in its own right to support good financial decision-making,” Nicol says. “Secondly, they need to be able to support the business case that’s being made by other bits of the business that want to use data analytics. That's why it's becoming more important now.” Skills gap However, the skills currently aren’t there to meet demand. According to consultancy firm McKinsey, only 18% of companies believe they have the skills necessary to gather and use insights effectively. Just 19% of companies are confident their data insights processes are improving the effectiveness of their sales. Nicol says there’s often a lack of knowledge around data and its potential. “Businesses have got more data available to them now than they had before. And most businesses don't know exactly what that data is or what it could enable them to do.” Data analytics managers within the finance function can help businesses utilise and use that data, which requires certain skills. “You have to be able to respond to the evidence critically and make your own decisions. Insight only comes from understanding your business and the significance of whatever the data is telling you,” says Nicol. “You have to link your data analytics very closely to your strategy and your business objectives, rather than allow it to drive them. That's why it's almost too important to be left to the data scientists.” Accountants as ‘data translators’ McKinsey talks about the importance of data translators: people able to take data sets, draw insights from that data and put those insights into actionable language that can then be applied across the organisation. “When the data are rendered into insights, business managers need to then translate them into messages and offers to be delivered to the marketplace.” This isn’t necessarily a new role to accountants, Nicol explains. Finance professionals have always been responsible for taking financial information and presenting it to others within the business. The difference is in the depth and range of data now available from non-traditional sources, possibly in areas of which accountants are unaware. “There's a challenge there to get that right. But there's also a massive opportunity to actually add a lot more value than you were previously adding because you can access much richer streams of data.” What you can do about it If you want to move yourself or your team into more of a data analytics role, there are several key skills you need to develop and consider, including technical (programming, statistics, business knowledge) and non-technical (problem-solving, communication, critical thinking). The collection and analysis of richer data also brings new ethical considerations for accountants to keep in mind. “It's not just about how you can quickly extract data, manipulate it and create outputs with it; you have to be able to think about the ethical side of it as well,” says Nicol. ICAEW, in partnership with training provider Kaplan and Azets, has created a Data Analytics Certificate Programme for members who want to improve their data analytics capabilities. The Analyst course teaches people the principles of data analytics as a process, including how to code and how to manipulate data, and the importance of creating engaging narrative and data visualisations back to the business to aid decision-making. It also covers the ethics of data analytics. The Management course is for those who are seeking to understand how to develop an effective data analytics function within their organisation and covers areas including data strategy and governance, forecasting and risk management, and influencing through storytelling and visualisation. Experts are predicting that digitisation will bring automation to traditional accountancy roles, Nicol explains. However, the need for finance professionals who can interpret data and can enable decision making based on their data-driven insights is only going to grow. “The world is changing, business is changing, accountants need to change too.” The ICAEW Data Analytics Certificate Programme will be available from 1 December 2020. For more information or to register your interest click here. If you want to excel in data analytics and succeed in this insight-driven era join the Data Analytics Community for free.
If finding a new job or getting a promotion is on your New Year’s resolution list, take a look at our expert tips on moving your accounting or finance career up a gear in 2021 and find out how ICAEW Jobs can support your search. COVID-19 has caused untold upheaval to the jobs market and many, including accountants, have found themselves out of work and looking for a new role. It has also made many of us reassess our priorities and look closely at what we really want to be spending our time doing. But what’s the best way to go about finding a new job during a pandemic? Simon Gray, ICAEW Chartered Accountant, former recruiter and author of Super Secrets of Successful Executive Job Search shares his 2021 job tips and insights with us. Is it a good time to be looking for a new accounting job? With so many out of work, you may be wondering whether looking for a new accounting job right now is a good idea. Speaking at ICAEW’s Financial Controller’s update in December, Gray said: “Now is always the best time. Organisations are always on the lookout for skilled and talented people.” Helen Jones, Head of ICAEW Jobs, confirms that the number of roles being advertised on the ICAEW Jobs board is now back up to pre-COVID levels. She says: “I've seen an increase in candidates recently, which shows people are starting to look for jobs again. There are actually huge opportunities at the moment and in the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of new roles become available.” How to stand out from the crowd With each accountancy and finance job vacancy often attracting hundreds of applicants, finding ways to stand out has never been more important. Gray says: “The way you stand out is not through your CV. Standing out means doing something different to everyone else. Think hard about the sector or organisation you’d like to work in and think about the value you can add. Then approach senior decision-makers within those organisations (through LinkedIn or even a letter) and engage in a conversation about how you can help their organisation. That could lead to an opportunity now or at least make you memorable for the future.” When you are applying for an advertised vacancy, Gray explains you can improve your chances of making the shortlist by following up with a phone call, even just to check the CV has been received. Or, better still, request an informal call with one of the interviewers ahead of the selection process. He says: “No one else is likely to have done that. It immediately puts you in a position to do two things: to stand out as being proactive and to get intelligence as to information you might need for the interview process.” How to secure a promotion Maintaining an understanding of what’s going on across your organisation can be tough when you’re operating remotely but remaining visible and maintaining your awareness of business activity can benefit you greatly. ICAEW member Amy Griffith, Business Finance Partner at British Council, who has worked remotely in many of her past finance roles says: “It’s about getting exposure to senior management. It’s also important to demonstrate strategic insight: to show people you’re operating at the level above where you’re currently working. It’s not about talking the most in meetings, it’s about listening and providing those insights.” Griffith also recommends joining online events and networking opportunities to stay visible when working remotely. How can ICAEW Jobs help with your accounting job search? ICAEW Jobs provides support for job hunters and ICAEW members looking to develop their finance careers. The site features a members-only job board with around 500 live jobs, from entry-level roles to senior positions. You can register to receive tailored job alerts and join the 38,000 members who have already uploaded their CV. ICAEW Jobs also hosts a blog and can help you arrange career coaching through CABA. Later this month, ICAEW Jobs is launching a course of lunchtime sessions to support members searching for their next role. Helen Jones adds: “ICAEW Jobs is about your entire career journey. If you want to become manager, we’ll help you find the training you should be taking now so that when that role comes up, you’re ready. It’s about working out what you want to do and finding a role where you can progress.” Further support Visit ICAEW Jobs and upload your CV. Watch Simon’s session at ICAEW’s Financial Controllers Update 2020 in December. Listen to Simon Gray’s podcasts supporting executive job search recorded with ICAEW.
Despite a record hike in the overall number of UK redundancies, specialist accountancy recruiters remain upbeat for the sector, predicting an upturn in demand over the coming 12 months and salary increases buoyed by ongoing skills shortages. The UK unemployment rate rose to 4.9% in the quarter to October and layoffs soared to a record 370,000 in the three months to October as the government scaled back its furlough scheme (before the decision was made to extend it). This brings the UK jobless total up to 1.7 million people, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Lee Owen, Director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, said it had been a tough year for all industries, and accountancy and finance were no exception. “However,” said Owen, “sentiment from our clients about the long-term prosperity of the sector is somewhat upbeat. Most are expecting their activity levels to increase or stay the same over the next 12 months and there is optimism about the health of the wider economy.” Owen said he expected employers to roll out targeted recruitment strategies over the next 12 months as they looked to fill skills gaps. “Aside from prerequisite technical skills, we’ve seen a real demand for professionals who are strong communicators, able to adopt change and good at problem-solving. Given these skills shortages, it’s unsurprising that many employers have increased salaries – a trend which will continue into the New Year.” According to the Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2021 Guide, 88% of employer respondents said they expect their organisation’s activity levels to increase or stay the same over the next 12 months. More than half - 54% - said they plan on recruiting staff over the next 12 months and three quarters said they had experienced skills shortages in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, 45% of employee respondents said they would be tempted to change role due to the salary or benefits on offer, with the same proportion feeling there is no scope for progression within their organisation. Hays says job seekers should remain open-minded and flexible about the direction of their careers. “The pandemic has caused surges in demand across sectors such as pharmaceuticals, technology and FMCG resulting in a ramping up of recruitment requirements over the course of the year,” Owen said. “Job seekers may wish to target those more buoyant sectors to uncover unexpected opportunities – which could be the ones to propel your career.” Continual investments in professional development will stand candidates in good stead, Owen added. “Those who are refreshing their skillset on an ongoing basis will be the ones who thrive in our changing world of work. Take advantage of any training opportunities offered by your employer, as well as looking at online courses, podcasts and reading in your own time.” Chris Hickey, UK CEO of Robert Walters, said macro factors such as Brexit being concluded, the newly elected US President starting his term, and COVID vaccines being administered, would provide a positive springboard for the rest of the year. The Robert Walters Salary Survey 2021, due to be published in January, anticipates pent-up recruitment demand across a number of sectors and the highest rates of salary inflation in four years since the Brexit vote was passed. “Senior professionals with expertise in restructuring and turnarounds will be in high demand as the UK initially emerges from its recessionary market,” Hickey says. “Experienced individuals that are able to communicate effectively to provide training and advice to more junior staff will also be highly valued as the markets begin to pick up and transition into a growth cycle.” Meanwhile, the market for CFOs and financial leadership roles witnessed a rebound in hiring activity from early summer - a trend set to continue into 2021, according to headhunter Odgers Berndtson. Duncan Hoggett, a partner in the CFO Practice, said the pivotal role finance had played in helping businesses navigate through the crisis had stood it in good stead. “Initially, this centred on securing liquidity, implementing furlough schemes and securing other government support. However, as the crisis has unfolded it has also accelerated a number of structural changes across a range of sectors. Finance will continue to play a critical role in helping businesses to transform and adapt. There’s a lot of companies looking for specific, senior-level finance capabilities to deliver turnarounds, support M&A activity or lead digital transformation programmes.” Accountants with the right mix of skills – particularly AI and Digital Transformation – will continue to be in demand. “We have no doubt finance professionals will play a lead role in the way businesses engage and deploy these exciting technologies,” Hoggett said. “Accountants should be accumulating these skills now so that they are able to thrive in the future jobs market.” Finance in a Digital World: a suite of online learning modules to support ICAEW members and students, develop awareness and build understanding of digital technologies and their impact on finance.
After the ups and downs of this year, we all deserve a well-earned break over Christmas. It’s important to take this time to relax, recharge and refresh for the upcoming year. However, the festive period is also a good time to evaluate your professional life and set a new direction for the year ahead. If a new job is on the horizon for you, then you need to take a proactive approach to job searching during at least some of your time off. Here is some guidance about what’s true and what isn’t when it comes to using the festive period to look for a new job. I need to completely switch off from work. Fiction. I’m certainly not denying that it’s important to switch off from work during the festive period. It has felt like a long year, which has left many of us wanting – and needing – to take this time to relax. However, you also deserve to have a successful career in the year ahead. My advice is therefore to turn down your work brain, rather than switching it off completely. Don’t ban yourself from reflecting on the year gone by. What parts of your work have you enjoyed? What have you achieved? What would you have done differently? Some reflection and consideration might illuminate new goals or a new direction for you to take your career in as we approach 2021. Job searching will ruin my Christmas plans. Fiction. Christmas mean that many of us are looking forward to spending time with our loved ones. There’s lots to do over the festive period in any case, so the last thing you want is to miss out on the fun because you’re looking for a new job. The reality is that you can do both. Set some time aside to search for jobs, even if it’s just a couple of hours here and there. Aim to harness your most productive times – like you would do in a normal day at work. Being disciplined and smart with your time is the key to getting a good end of year break while also investing time in your career. Lots of people will be wanting a new job in the New Year. Fact. As I mentioned, the New Year is a great time to set a new direction for your career and explore your options. Indeed, many professionals will be thinking this, which can make the New Year feel like a competitive time to be applying for jobs. But here’s where you can put yourself at an advantage: starting your job hunt over Christmas will give you a head start over others. Many will put off their job search until they get around to making it a New Year’s resolution, so get ahead of the competition by starting your job hunt now. Even if it’s just updating your CV and doing some research at this stage, beginning the process early will pay off when competition might heat up in the New Year. No one will look at my CV over Christmas. Fiction. It’s a fair enough assumption to make, seeing as business activity typically winds down towards the end of the year. However, this doesn’t mean that hiring completely stops. Recruiters and hiring managers will likely still be checking their emails over the Christmas break because of the nature of their job, so don’t worry about your CV sitting in someone’s inbox unread. What’s more, most recruiters and hiring managers will be feeling less busy over the next few weeks and therefore might be more receptive to any applications that come through. Putting your CV out there over the Christmas period might just make you stand out more and offer you the chance to grab the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager during a quiet period. A five-point plan for your festive job hunt Here are some steps to help you get starting with your job hunt: Ask yourself what you want from a new job. Think beyond salary and job title – what sort of employer do you want to work for? And what kind of company culture do you need to thrive? Start researching. Try recruitment websites, job boards and LinkedIn to get a sense of what’s out there and get inspired. Brush up your CV. Ensure it’s up to date and include some of the key words and phrases you’ve picked up when researching potential jobs. Network. Identify relevant contacts who could help you make your next step and reach out. Practice your interview skills. When you get that call inviting you to interview you want to be ready to impress. Hopefully separating fact from fiction when it comes to job hunting over Christmas goes to show that it can be a good time to explore your options. Balancing your break with some investment in your career will see you have a positive and successful start to the New Year.
You may have lost your training agreement or job as a result of the pandemic. Emotions like shock, upset and anger are all very normal in these circumstances and many people have to go through these emotions to get to a point of acceptance. Even people with the thickest skins find rejection difficult. When something important to you is taken away, it can be very hard. Seek out the people you know and whose opinions you trust. Talking your situation through will help you vent some of those emotions and will help you get to a place where you can plan for your new future with energy and positivity. It is important to recognise that organisations are still hiring. Some companies and sectors have prospered throughout the pandemic and they show no sign of slowing down their recruitment plans. Many others, of course, have been impacted and redundancies are increasing, especially many government job protection schemes come to an end. But while many organisations are downsizing, they are also rethinking and reorganising. They are planning for the ‘new normal’ and, for many, that means looking at bringing in new talent to do new and different things. So how do you find and land a new job? Here are our 3 top tips: 1. Treat your job search like a job itself Most jobs have tasks, routine and an overall objective. You know what you have to do, when it’s got to be done by and what you are seeking to achieve. Apply these same principles to your job search and you will have a plan. Your plan should start with the overall objective. Take some time to think about the skills and potential you have, the roles you want, the sectors and companies that are of interest. You can then start honing your CV, so it is focused on your end game. Then research employment agencies who specialise in the areas you are targeting. Register your CV and make contact with individual recruiters. Make your approach email personalised and engaging. Ensure you are looking at LinkedIn and relevant job boards. Above all, you should be networking. In the current climate, this will help you make quicker progress. Once you have your plan, set yourself daily and weekly goals. This will help to keep you motivated and energised. 2. Make sure you stand out It is true that there are roles out there. But it is also true that there will be increased competition for every role so you must stand out. Now is the time to think about your personal brand. Spend some time thinking about everything you’ve done. Everything thing you’ve learnt and all the silks you’ve developed. And then think about what you stand for. What are your values? All of this comes together to form your personal brand. Authenticity is a key ingredient of any successful brand. Do not try to be someone else. You are who you are. Find ways of articulating who you are and what you stand for. Be genuine and you will be more confident, more believable, and more credible. Your profile and activity on LinkedIn needs to stand out so recruiters find you and think you are a strong candidate. Make new connections, share content, comment on posts and publish your own posts. During online events contribute to the debate, ask questions and have a view. All of this will build your profile and make you more visible. 3. Tailor every application This can help differentiate you from the competition. Recruiters spend minutes, sometimes seconds, scanning CVs and applications. Look closely at the advert and, if you have it, the role profile. What are they specifically looking for? What are the key priorities of the role and essential requirements in the person spec? Make sure your CV or application highlight your achievements, experience and skills that match. That might mean amending your personal profile, changing the order of the bullet points under each role, describing an achievement in a little more detail. Ultimately, you want the recruiter to immediately see you are a good fit and put your CV on the “yes to interview” pile. And don’t forget that before a human being has seen your CV or application, a recruitment system will probably have scanned it first. This is where key words play a critical role. Again, look closely at the advert or role profile. What are the most important aspects and make sure you weave those words or phrases into your CV. For example, you may talk about Account Management whilst the employer may refer to Client Partner. Tailor your CV accordingly. This will all take time but the effort that will pay off. CABA provides free lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff, and their close family members We provide a range of career development support including career coaching, CV and LinkedIn reviews, contact us today to find out more. https://www.caba.org.uk/
Redundancy can be a stressful and upsetting time for everyone. Even if you’ve seen it coming, it’s often a shock. You may feel anger, disbelief, embarrassment, anxiety, guilt, or that you've been unfairly treated. It's important not to deny these feelings, as they are perfectly normal. They can manifest themselves in different ways such as tension, lethargy, irritability, anxiety and a change in eating habits. If you’ve recently lost your job, or are worried about being made redundant, here are 5 top tips to help you prepare yourself for your next chapter. 1. Talk about your situation For many people, work is more than just an income. It offers status, a daily routine and a sense of purpose, together with an interesting and challenging activity. For some, their social life can also revolve around work colleagues. This is a lot to lose. If you’re stressed or in despair, it’s so important to talk about how your feel with other people, such as your colleagues, family and friends. Sharing your thoughts and feeling with others will allow you to process your emotions and come to terms with what’s happened. As research professor Dr Brené Brown says, shame cannot survive empathy. So, by leaning on the support from those around you, and allowing them to be there for you, you’re bound to feel a sense of release. 2. Establish a new routine People who’ve been made redundant say they find it helpful to establish a regular daily routine. This often means getting up as if you’re going to work, getting dressed and focusing on finding new paid employment. Having some structure to your day will help keep you positive and enable you to keep track of what you've done today and what you need to do tomorrow. For some ideas on how to bring some structure to your day, check out our coping with redundancy guide which contains some handy tips. 3. Don’t take it personally Redundancies are rarely, if ever, personal. But sometimes it’s hard not to take it that way. As someone who’s being made redundant, you might feel undervalued and overlooked, which can affect the way you view yourself as a professional. A diminished sense of self-worth can have a big impact on how you tackle the next stage, as you may feel like you’re not good or skilled enough to apply for positions at a similar or higher level. This is why it’s so important to practice self-compassion as this will help you to re-build your confidence. Reminding yourself of all you’ve achieved so far and remembering that you’ve got plenty of moves left to play. Don’t leave it too long before you start looking at what’s next - whether that’s applying for your next job, or, if finances allow, taking some time out to think about how you might use this as an opportunity to realign yourself with your life goals. 4. Re-invent yourself When we’re young and still in school, we sometimes feel as if the whole world is open to us and that we can pursue any profession. This feeling of possibility tends to lessen the older we get as the number of financial and personal obligations we have grows. However, don’t forget that it’s never too late to re-invent yourself. No matter what age you are, redundancy can actually be an opportunity for you to take a positive step forwards in your career, whether this means applying for a similar role but for a company that better aligns with your values, or going down a completely different path and exploring another sector completely. For those wondering what their next move is, we offer career and personal and professional coaching services as well as personal and professional development courses. Contact us today to find out more. 5. Tend to your financial wellbeing Losing a job can do terrible things to our financial wellbeing. You might be worried about how you’re going to pay your bills this month or if you’ll have enough money to look after your family. These feelings often weigh heavy on us, making us feel caged in and like we are running out of options. Much of this is down to feeling like you don’t have any ownership of your future. Remember, financial wellbeing is about control - control over your day-to-day decisions and long-term goals. While you may feel like you’re at a loss of what to do when you’ve been made redundant, there are ways of regaining a sense of agency. The first thing to do is to take stock of your finances and create a budget. One you’ve got a better idea of what you’ve got coming in and out of your accounts, it’s easier to make rational decisions that will positively impact your situation. You should also look into what help is out there for you, as there are many support services in place for people who are experiencing financial difficulties. CABA offers a range of financial services to its members and their families, including financial assistance, debt management advice and benefits counsel. The importance of perspective Staying hopeful is all about perspective. It may seem devastating and scary right now, but it will pass and things will get better. And remember, you don’t have to struggle alone. Contact CABA today. CABA provides free lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff, and their close family members. If you’re worried about the impact of the pandemic on you and your family, find out how CABA can support you.