A good CV is vital when applying for a job, especially in recent years with the job sector becoming more competitive than ever. Many studies have shown that recruiters or employers won’t spend more than a couple of seconds looking at a CV, especially when there are numerous candidates for the same job. Creating a CV that will capture the attention of an employer or recruiter to help you get shortlisted and even get the job doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here are 5 useful tips on how to make your CV stand out from the crowd and highlight the skills or experience that will contribute positively towards you as a candidate. 1. Tailor your CV to the role Depending on the role you are applying for, customise your CV to highlight the skills, accomplishments and experience that are relevant. The clues are in the job description and company information, so read the details from start to finish and create a CV specifically for that role. You need to clearly demonstrate that you understand what is needed for the role and that you are the perfect fit. There is no perfect template as each sector requires emphasis on different aspects of your CV, such as career history or qualifications. Try to be as specific as possible and reflect the skills set and qualities they are looking for in a candidate. Present your skills in a similar order to the job description and make sure to remove any unnecessary areas. This means that you may have to alter and adjust your CV for each new job you apply for. 2. Include keywords in your CV Many employers or recruiters use keywords when looking for candidates. Keywords are often based on the job title, the job description and specific skills or qualifications needed for the role. Utilising keywords is even more important, if the employer is using an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to filter out candidates. You should identify and carefully pick up these specific words and phrases and use them within your CV to increase your chances of getting noticed by employers. When applying for an accounting or finance job in particular, it is important to include keywords that are relevant to your technical skills. These could be phrases such as ‘Management Accountant’, ‘Financial Planning’, ‘GAAP’, ‘SAP’ etc. Read also about how to present your transferable skills in your CV. Using keywords is a sure-fire way to make your CV stand out from the competition and unfortunately is often overlooked by candidates. 3. Emphasize actions and results rather than responsibilities When writing your CV, work history and experience sections, you need to ensure that you don’t just list your responsibilities. Emphasis should be given to results and you should always use real life examples and quantifiable data to back up your accomplishments. Use assertive and positive language, such as "developed", "organised" or "achieved". For example: "The work experience involved working in a team," or "This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people". When you get into the habit of writing about your achievements, rather than things you’ve been responsible for, it creates a sense of accomplishment and gives a positive context to your writing. 4. Sell yourself Your CV is your marketing tool and your opportunity to show off your skills and accomplishments to potential employers. You need to focus on the relevant skills you can bring to the role and the value you can add to a company, but you also need to convince them that your CV is worth reading. Make a first good impression with a good personal statement (a brief summary of your skills and accomplishments). This is an important part of your CV because it can grab an employer's attention straight away and help them understand if your experience and skills match the requirements for the role. When writing your CV make sure it reflects your personality and demonstrates the things that will make an employer consider you as a potential employee and not just another CV in the batch. In most cases the best way to make a CV stand out is to make yourself stand out! 5. Don’t forget the basics Presentation is key when putting together your CV. The layout should be clean and well-structured and should clearly outline all of the different sections including contact information, a brief personal statement, work experience, education and finally your skills. A CV should also be short, usually no more than two sides of A4 stressing achievements and strengths on the first page. Ensure you include references and keep your CV updated adding any new skills or experience. These include contact details, education and qualifications, career history and own interests. Keeping a CV up to date is crucial to building a level of trust with an employer and establishing you as a professional. If your CV contains out-of-date information, it may show a lack of attention to detail and can paint you in a bad light before you’ve even had a chance to engage with potential employers. Creating a CV that stands out requires a bit of extra work and can be time-consuming, but following the above CV tips will help you show off your accomplishments and skills in the best possible way. For further career advice and support, visit our career advice portal or contact us.
Today mentoring relationships are becoming more common amongst professional accountants. Many of them are looking for a mentor to help them develop their professional skills and achieve their career goals. This blog will explore the benefits of mentoring and explain how to get the most out of having a mentor. What is a mentor? A mentor is an industry expert with extensive knowledge and experience in your professional field who can guide, advise, motivate and support you to achieve your personal career goals. A mentor acts as a role model and shares his or her knowledge, experience, resources and useful information about the industry. A mentor is there to provide guidance and help you build a network of contacts, identify the right resources and set clear goals to progress your career. What is mentoring? Mentoring is a one-to-one relationship between you and a mentor. Sometimes this relationship may be a formal one organised through your employer, or it could be through a mentoring organisation or via your professional institute. Alternatively, it may be more of an informal relationship that you have arranged yourself through your own network. There are advantages and disadvantages of an internal/external mentor so you need to consider who the right person is to help you succeed and then ensure that your mentor has the time to commit to helping you. Sometimes a workplace mentor may have a specific remit to support you with such as helping you keep focused with studies and experience to qualify whereas general mentoring in its purest sense is about your long-term career. Mentoring can take place in a range of ways both in person or remotely using virtual meetings or social media platforms. What is the role of a mentor? A mentoring relationship will typically involve the mentor playing different roles to support you by offering you guidance, advice and suggestions from their own knowledge and experience. They could support you with advice around technical skills development in your early career, leadership skills or business skills as you progress further in your career. They can also act as a sounding board, someone to think through problems, issues and challenges with as well as someone who may challenge and push your thinking, motivating you and holding you accountable for any actions. Do I need a mentor? Having a mentor can have many benefits. Working with the right mentor can help you by allowing you to: Seek advice from an industry expert who has the knowledge and expertise to give guidance Explore your career options, path and future objectives with someone in the field Discover your areas of strength and areas of development through feedback Discuss ways to overcome any barriers to your success Gain different perspectives when thinking through issues Improve your confidence and performance in your role Access the mentors network of contacts that could be helpful to your future career Gain the support and advocacy of the mentor for future job roles Choosing a mentor It is important you have some choice in your mentor. You’ll want them to be someone you can be open with and trust with your personal objectives, thoughts and feelings around your career, as well as being someone who inspires you. When choosing a mentor, you should consider: Whether the person has the relevant knowledge and experience to advise you in your career Whether you hold the person in high regards, someone you admire or who you find inspirational Whether you feel comfortable with the person’s style and approach Whether you feel you will be able to be open and honest with the person Whether you feel the person will treat information with confidence Whether you think the person will be able to offer you feedback to help you learn and grow; Whether the person has some experience in mentoring others You should spend some time meeting together to assess your answers to these questions and ensure you make the right choice before entering into a long-term mentoring arrangement. For mentoring to be successful you need to enter into it with clear objectives around what you want to achieve from it together with personal motivation and commitment. Mentoring can be a short-term relationship with regular meetings to support you through a particular challenge or career transition or it could be a long-term relationship throughout your career journey with fewer meetings spread out over a longer period of time. This has to be mutually agreed between both parties and regularly reviewed. Your career takes different routes and you may naturally reach a point where you are ready to work with someone else or they may feel they have supported you so far and are ready to watch you fly on your own. How to get a mentor? ICAEW Academy offers a bespoke Coaching & Mentoring Programme that aims to empower you to take big steps to further your career. Every Coaching and Mentoring programme is tailored to your needs. For more information about mentoring, visit the ICAEW website. Written by: Meg Burton Meg has over 15 years' extensive experience of delivering and facilitating development training in corporate organisations working with leaders and managers at all levels in a wide range of businesses. Meg is a qualified learning and development professional, qualified MBTI practitioner and Executive Coach. Meg has a warm enthusiastic approach, a passion for learning and a desire to make a difference to individuals. How CABA can help Everything we do at CABA is underpinned by our commitment to provide lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, past and present ICAEW staff and their close families. All of our services are free, impartial and strictly confidential.
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 rank 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? Here are the main reasons why you should go after a public sector finance job. 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 the 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 finance 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 or want to follow a career in public sector finance, 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.
That’s it. They’ve had enough. Enough of the endless Teams calls. Enough of putting their career development on hold. Enough of feeling unsupported, overloaded, and overlooked by their employers. If the reports are true, record numbers of people around the world have come to the realisation that, for them, enough is enough and are considering voluntarily leaving their jobs. SEVEN REASONS WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE CONSIDERING LEAVING THEIR JOBS According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, 41 per cent of people are likely to consider leaving their jobs within the next year. That’s a very high number indeed. It’s been dubbed the “The Great Resignation” by organisational psychologist, Dr Anthony Klotz, and for good reason. As with the other ‘Greats’ we’ve witnessed across history, take “The Great Recession”, or “The Great Depression”, for instance, the impact could be monumental. Just think about the implications for a minute. If you’re a business leader, almost half of your entire workforce may, right now, be thinking about leaving you. Where does that put your growth plans? Your customers? Your bottom line? Just when you thought you could see light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel and get back to resurrecting your business, your greatest assets are leaving you. Before we dive into the reasons before this unprecedented movement of talent, it’s important to note that certain demographics of society appear to be more open to the idea of quitting than others. As explained in this Guardian piece, “Socioeconomic differences will shape who is quitting and why.” Blue collar workers: In this piece, Sandra Sucher, Harvard Business School professor and author of the forthcoming “The Power of Trust”, noted that low-wage workers are particularly motivated to change jobs with even marginally better offers. As explained in this BBC article, “Many retail and service workers are departing in favour of entry-level positions elsewhere – in warehouses or offices, for instance – that actually pay less, but offer more benefits, upward mobility and compassion. With employers across the board looking for new hires, many have found it’s easy to find another job and make the transition.” Gen Z: Microsoft’s research found that 54 per cent of Generation Z workers could be considering handing in their resignation, and pointed to the fact that “…Gen Z reported difficulties feeling engaged and excited about work, getting a word in during meetings, and bringing new ideas to the table.” Mid-career workers and managers: Research from people analytics firm, Visier, found that the cohort of employees aged between 30-45 years old saw large increases in resignations between August 2019 and August 2020, signalling that those who are more established in their careers are more likely to consider to switching jobs. Plus, as of December 2020, resignations among managers were 12 per cent higher than the previous year. So, what’s behind this predicted mass exodus of talent? What’s triggering people to want to leave their jobs in such vast numbers? 1. They finally feel confident searching for a new job According to Klotz, those people who had planned on leaving their jobs pre-pandemic but decided to hold off due to the instability caused by COVID-19, are now resuming their job searches with a new-found gusto. As a result, the backlog of resignations that have built up over the last 18 months are now beginning to clear. This is hardly surprising. With rising vaccination rates globally, and the gradual opening up of economies, we’re seeing a seismic shift in the job market and confidence returning almost everywhere in the world. This sentiment is echoed by Neil Carberry, chief executive at the UK-based the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), who said, “The jobs market is improving at the fastest pace we have ever seen, but it is still an unpredictable time.” In fact, our own UK & Ireland Salary Guide revealed that 63 per cent of employers are currently recruiting. There are more opportunities out there than there have been in a long time, so many feel now is the right time to finally make their move. But what else is at play? 2. They’ve been given the time and space to reflect on both their personal and professional lives If people weren’t already considering looking for a new role before the pandemic hit, then chances are that they are now. According to our recent LinkedIn poll of over 25k people, 74 per cent said that the pandemic has made them consider their job or career choices. Whether it’s feeling unsupported on a number of levels by their employers, or the fact that, as Klotz argues, we’ve all been forced to confront our own mortality in a way that we’ve never had to before, for many, the pandemic has afforded people the time and space to reflect on their working lives – something that many have never had the luxury of doing before. As explained in LinkedIn’s ‘Hello Monday’ podcast, lots of people have simply realised that life is too short to do a job they don’t love, for a company they don’t think cares about them. 3. They just don’t want to go back to the office…ever After 18 months of working from their own homes, where they are the ones in control, doing their jobs in a way that works best for them and enjoying the freedom to live their personal lives alongside their 9-5’s, some just don’t want to go back to the office. This, coupled with the fact that many have already relocated or are planning to in order to be closer to family or to achieve the lifestyle they’ve always dreamt of, the prospect of having to return to the office has been a big trigger to leave for many people. This is reflected by Microsoft’s research, which found that 46 per cent of people say they’re likely to move because they can work remotely now. But is returning to the office, at least part of the time, really going to be as bad in reality as what many have convinced themselves it will be in their own minds? Lots of people, including myself, feel they have re-discovered a newfound sense of connection with people that they have been lacking for over a year, just by going into the office a couple of days a week. In my mind, both our homes and our offices have a part to play in enabling us to lead fulfilling working lives, but I appreciate that not everyone feels that way. 4. They’re burned out We’ve seen the headlines – burnout right now is real and it’s rife. According to Microsoft’s survey: 37 per cent of the global workforce say their companies are asking too much of them at a time like this One in five think their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance 54 per cent feel overworked and 39 per cent feel exhausted The average Microsoft Teams user is sending 42 per cent more chats after hours, with 50 per cent of people responding to Teams chats within five minutes Microsoft argues that these frightening stats “…prove the intensity of the workday, and that what is expected of workers during this time has increased significantly.” I’d have to agree. It’s no wonder so many people are reconsidering their job options. Technology has been the Great Enabler for us all to continue to do our jobs and keep our economies and societies from total collapse over the last 18 months. Imagine if we had had to cope with a global pandemic just a few years ago without Teams and Zoom, no fast internet, no mobiles, no online banking/shopping/food delivery/Netflix/everything else that enables our lives today? If this had happened 20 years ago, I’m not sure how we would have kept working, so technology has been our saviour. But technology has also blurred the lines between work and private life and the level of burnout and exhaustion is unsustainable. 5. They want to hit ‘play’ on their career growth Everyone wants to feel that they are moving forward, that they are on the path to personal growth and success. The need to feel a sense of progress is an innately human one, but it’s a feeling many haven’t necessarily experienced for a long time. Many have put their own personal development on pause. Instead, they’ve been busy keeping the businesses they work for afloat. Upskilling for many has been off the radar, a secondary concern that can wait until tomorrow, the next month or even the next year. That mindset is starting to shift, with many reaching for the ‘play’ button again. High performing workers, according to research from Axios, are the most concerned about their career advancement in their current job, with 75 per cent of people saying the pandemic has made them question their skillsets. Unfortunately, many feel that to reach the next level and achieve their goals, they have no choice but to move jobs. To me, this is a wholly avoidable challenge and one that employers should be tackling head on. It’s well known that career progression is a crucial factor in employee engagement in an organisation. Without it, people who want to get on will go elsewhere and create value for someone else. And those that stay may well not be as engaged in your success as you hope or think. 6. They are motivated by financial reasons For those who have continued to work during the pandemic, their savings have probably increased. Without the commuting costs, the after-work drinks, the meals out or lunches in, most have actually managed to save money. This financial cushion has led many to feel more confident to make a move, or even to leave a job without having another lined up. For many, this financial freedom has given them more space to make the career decisions that are right for them. Secondly, thanks to sites like Glassdoor and salary.com, people now have more visibility than ever before into exactly what salary their own unique skillset and experience can command. And, when they do decide to move, particularly those working in tech and life sciences, they often realise a 15-20 per cent salary increase. These numbers can make a big difference to someone’s finances and I’m sure are a huge driver behind all the movement we’re seeing in the market. 7. They’ve realised they don’t actually like their jobs Without the welcome distractions and colleague camaraderie that comes with working in an office, many people have been left to just do their jobs at home. And, with all of the peripheral interactions and distractions stripped back, many have realised that they don’t actually enjoy the work they do, especially when they don’t have all the other softer stuff to break up their days. The reality of what they do has really hit them. On top of that, despite the constant Teams calls and chats, many are feeling disconnected from their teams, their managers and their organisations, as explained by Cassie Whitlock, head of human resources for BambooHR, “Many have lost a sense of connection to the workplace,” she says. “Even if they’re getting time with their manager, we discovered they’re having fewer interactions, and the quality of those interactions is diminished. They’re not having a feeling of genuine connection. They feel less seen, recognized, and appreciated.” As a result, there’s been a huge rise in people choosing to go it alone and set up their own solo ventures. According to the National Bureau of Economic Statistics, the pace of new business applications since mid-2020 has been the highest on record, and across the course of the pandemic there’s been a rise in side hustles. This is echoed by Microsoft’s research which found that 46 per cent of people are planning to make a major career pivot or transition. This blog was originally published on LinkedIn.
From chartered accountant in restructuring, turned business lender, to the CFO of ClearScore - Guy Buckley-Sharp exclusively unpicks his unconventional career path to lead the finance team at a household business. By his own definition, Guy Buckley-Sharp, CFO of financial wellbeing business, ClearScore, didn’t have the most traditional career path from financial controller to CFO. He diverted from this track to first experience the business world from a lender's point of view. In an exclusive Career Conversation with ICAEW Sharp reveals how this early career move was instrumental in grasping a solid understanding on how to secure investment when he was sitting on the other side of the desk as a CFO. Sharp was ACA trained by 2003 at Arthur Anderson in the corporate restructuring team before he then moved to a company called ETV Capital; a start-up in its own right where he was a Lender to venture capital backed businesses. “That gave me my first taste of the venture capital world, and the key experience I got out of my time there was seeing businesses from the perspective of an investor and putting capital at risk”, said Sharp. “I think that has informed my approach to business and has been very valuable as a CFO. You’re usually the equivalent to a ‘grey-haired doomsday guy’ who is always considering the downside. A background in debt certainly trained me for that.” He added: “Crucially, it also really built my network in the private equity and venture capital world. Through any of the companies I was dealing with, I would be dealing with their investors and you had to build relationships there.” From Lender to CFO Sharp then left in 2009 to do his first CFO role in a company called Borro, a collateral loaning company, which at the time had 12 people in Oxford. He actually came across this business through ETV as they were trying to do a deal with the business. Sharp didn’t get to do a deal, but he did get to know the CFO and got to know the business pretty well. “I spent four years there where we grew the team from 12 to over 60 people. Then I went from Summertown in Oxford to London as we grew the team and then we launched in the U.S. We nearly issued $100m of loans to individuals which equated to about 17,000 loans; lots of lending to people with high value assets.” He continued: “Importantly for me, and leveraging my background with ETV Capital, a lot of my role was raising finance for the business, and anyone going into an early-stage business looking at a CFO or finance role – liquidity and fund-raising capital, managing capital raising for these businesses is a massive part of the role.” Second CFO role At Borro the Sharp’s team raised a large amount of finance and had left the business in a good position, so he jumped out at that point and was brought into another business which was his second CFO role, a business called Gazoob which moved him from fintech into the educational technology space. In his own words, ‘this was a turnaround, this was literally four or five people with some money invested by an investor’. The day he joined is the day the CEO and Founder left; he was brought in to try and salvage something from this business. “I spent a couple years there and the turnaround wasn’t successful, we had raised some more money and tried to pivot the business. But interestingly in those two years I think I learnt as much from a turnaround salvaging business as I did in Borro”, he said. Becoming the first CFO at ClearScore Sharp had already met the team at ClearScore just as they had launched in July 2015 and in March 2016, he then joined the business when there were just 20 people there at the time and became their first CFO. Interestingly, some of the investors he had brought into Borro two moves back, were lead investors in ClearScore. This really consolidated the value of those relationships to Sharp and maintained those relationships wherever industry can take a person as it’s such a small place. ClearScore is an online marketplace for financial products, for example, Skyscanner for flights, ClearScore is the equivalent for credit cards. He added: “ClearScore Started in the UK, we now also have operations in South Africa and Australia. We also have 13 million people using us around the world. It has gone on quite a journey.” “We’re all at CFO school until we retire” Throughout Sharp’s success in his career, he remains grounded by the fact that he doesn’t have all the answers and that he is constantly learning. He stresses the importance of building lasting professional relationships to help each other keep moving forward in business. This constant learning makes him feel like he never left school. Sharp explained: “I have a mentor who was actually arranged through ICAEW and he is an extremely successful CFO and when we were doing our sessions, I once said to him that ‘I still feel like I’m at CFO school every time I turn up’. And he said, bearing in mind this is someone who has taken businesses public, ‘so do I, it's completely normal, we’re all at CFO school until we retire. Because the nature of the job is growing a business, sorting a problem out, fighting a fire and you never know what’s going to turn up’.” This doesn’t just apply to CFO’s; it’s said openly at ClearScore that they’re all finding their own way. If it was easy to do then every business would be a ClearScore. “You get some really bright and motivated people together and you try and solve the problems that are thrown at you every day. I didn’t have a finance network behind me at the time of using Borro, but there was scaffolding around me in terms of people working around me in the CEO, Founder and others. You’ve got to support each other and that’s the only way”, concluded Sharp. For more insight on: what to expect when working in a finance role at a start-up; what Sharp wishes he’d known before joining the exciting world of start-up; how the finance guys ‘the grey-haired doomsdayer’ build a good relationship with Founders and marketing team; and maintaining a work-life balance as well as your own sanity, watch the full Career Conversation between ICAEW and Guy Buckley-Sharp. If you are ready to take the next step in your career journey take a look at our job listings and other career advice.
ClearScore CFO, Guy Buckley-Sharp, shares expertise learned from his pathway to financial controller of a household business exclusively with ICAEW Insights Q&A. Guy Buckley-Sharp, CFO of financial wellbeing business, ClearScore, didn’t have the most conventional career path from financial controller to CFO. Sharp was ACA trained by 2003 at Arthur Anderson in the corporate restructuring team before diverting to lending at ETV Capital, a lender for venture capital backed businesses. Then Sharp took a leap from lending into the financial controlling world with Borro, a collateral loaning company he came across while working for ETV Capital. After growing the team at Borrow from 12 to 60 and breaking into the U.S market, he then joined Gazoob (a fintech in the educational technology space) as their CFO. Sharp’s next role would be the CFO of ClearScore, an online marketplace for financial products. He joined the business when there were just 20 people there at the time and became their first CFO. Along the journey from chartered accountant in restructuring, turned business lender, to the CFO of ClearScore, Sharp has gained invaluable career insight which he chose to share with ICAEW Insights. What is the biggest challenge as a CFO? “The biggest challenge is keeping up with the pace of growth. In terms of people, it’s shifting a company from 20 to 200 or 300 people, turning a company from a single jurisdiction to a multinational business. All these things create regulatory challenges, much greater financial complexity, much greater constraints on the business, treasury and liquidity. As they scale it’s a real challenge, but it’s also an attractive part of the role because you are given these challenges and it’s kind of a little bit what you’re there for.” How can the job affect you emotionally? “You’re going to work very closely with the CEO of this business if you’re taking on a CFO role. You’ve got to be able to work night and day. At ClearScore, the CEO and I have been through extreme emotional highs and lows. You’ve got to look at the character of that individual and the team around you to make sure you’re with the right people to be going into the trenches with. “There’s going to be loads of balls thrown at all of you, so you’ve got to think someone has your back and you can all stand shoulder to shoulder and take it. However, if you learn/earn enough over the next year or two then it would be worth taking that leap and continuing onto the next job, and that’s how I would look at it from a career perspective.” How do you pick the right CEO? “The successful CEO is generally extremely passionate, driven and hardworking, very ambitious, super optimistic and totally obsessed with the mission that they’ve created. They founded the business on it. That creates quite a lot of energy and drive, and you can see the CFO’s role as slightly the Ying to the Yang. “You’ve got to be a little more level-headed as you can’t have two fiery energetic people bouncing off each other because it probably doesn’t work as well. That is why I’ve worked so well with the CEOs that I’ve worked with.” How important is building a network? “I still work with people now from a legal and finance perspective, even if I don’t work with them contractually, I still speak to them and get advice from them. This includes people from 10/12 years ago when I started as a CFO under a different company. “Use that network as it's super helpful and no one knows the answers to everything. That network is important as it’s a very small world. No business is more important than you and the people around you because you’ll all be around longer than any of these businesses.” Was it a straight path to becoming a CFO? “The journey will never be linear, very often there will be days where you’re taking one step forward and two steps back, and there will be problems coming in that you have to deal with. Be prepared that it’s not going to just flow’ if you do have a straight journey then you’re very lucky." For more insight on: what to expect when working in a finance role at a start-up; what Sharp wishes he’d known before joining the exciting world of start-up; how the finance guys ‘the grey-haired doomesdayer’ build a good relationship with founders and marketing team; and maintaining a work-life balance as well as your own sanity, watch the full Career Conversation between ICAEW and Guy Buckley-Sharp If you are ready to take the next step in your career journey take a look at our job listings and other career advice.
What is a career plan? A comprehensive career plan ensures that you are in control of your career and are making calculated decisions. A career development plan is an ongoing process that requires an individual to perform a self-evaluation. This is done to create a strong and clearer career path. In order to make a career plan, you must first: Explore your passions and skills Map out your career aspirations Create a process to learn what is required in order to reach each goal Take control of your future career prospects Self-analysis Analysing yourself to find your development areas and strengths is crucial to create an effective career plan. Self-reflection is easy to forget when you are on the same grind day in and day out. When you begin to understand your values, passions, and abilities, you are better suited to create a career development plan that matches your lifestyle and aspirations. Research Through asking questions and shadowing the right people, you can get closer to finding your ideal clearer career path. It is in your best interest to start networking at work, events, online/physical forums and career fairs as they allow you to ask questions. Consider volunteering, and/or shadowing and taking extra responsibilties at your job. These steps will allow you to begin your career action plan, enabling you to reach a definitive decision of what you want and what you don't. If you're able to find yourself a mentor, don't let the opportunity pass. Goals After you've self-reflected and have a clearer idea of your options, you will be able to identify what career you want. To achieve this, you must set SMART, Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely goals. Write them down! They will stay in your head. Share them. Share them with a colleague or a friend. Share them with your manager, depending on your workplace; you may receive support in achieving these goals. Sharing your SMART goals will give you a sense of liability. Your career plan Combine your self-assessment, research, and goals to formulate a plan. Take a look at roles that are the next step up from yours and compare your current skill set to that of the role. Identify your development areas, weaknesses, and gaps in your skills and work out how to bridge the gap. You may be able to achieve this by attending courses. The plan is your career strategy; it's now time to action it. Remember to be proactive. Document everything you plan and tell those around you for motivation and again evoke that sense of liability. Remember to adapt your career plan as things change; your career is not written in stone, and neither is your plan. If your employers can assist you in achieving your career progression plan, it will be of significant help. However, this is a process that you can achieve through consistency, high-quality work, and thoughtful career planning. Whether you are looking for a new job, changing sectors or at the start of your career journey, the use of a career development plan will give you guidance to a constructive outcome. Plan for success. New roles are posted every day on ICAEW Jobs 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.
The role of the Non-Executive Director (‘NED’) can be both challenging and rewarding, but it is important to know what you are getting into. It is quite a step change from an employment role because you are only in the business part-time and it can be difficult to feel an integral part of the day-to-day activities of an organisation. However, the role itself is critical to a well-run company and boards are waking-up to the need to find the next generation NEDs. NEDs are appointed based on their knowledge and experience – they should bring to the board a range of different perspectives and provide an independent, broader view drawing on their previous roles and responsibilities. The ability to compare and benchmark the organisation’s approach to certain situations can act as a positive challenge to executive management’s thinking. Tips for preparing for a NED role “Boards’ need more diversity of thought” … “Boards’ need people who understand business” … “Boards’ need people who positively challenge the status quo” … Chartered accountants can respond positively to the statements above and have a head start on a number of other professionals given finance and risk are a key element of the NED role. The skills and attributes of a chartered accountant align well with the requirements of being a NED (strategy-led; financially literate; enquiring mind; communicator; listener). Chartered accountants should be stepping up to the plate to perform NED roles, especially with the input they can provide to audit, risk and remuneration committees. To help you chart a course there are 6 simple tips to consider on the road to becoming a NED. Start early, set your objectives and make a plan – What are your strengths and weaknesses? Plug any gaps with extra training or education, especially the new Board Development courses run by the ICAEW Academy (see below). Start with small steps – There are a range of NED-related roles in a variety of organisations such as schools, charities and sports bodies – what are your interests? – where can you gain some useful initial experience in a non-threatening environment. Re-write your CV – Look at your CV in the light of taking on a board-level role. You will need to revamp and re-shape the document to sell your ‘value’ – it will be a very different CV to a traditional employment model. This may link to point 1 above regarding highlighting any gaps and development areas. Get your current employer to sponsor you – Look to get on the ladder early and ask your employer to support you – it will help your development and bring new ideas back into the organisation. A number of organisations are building this into their talent Programmes. Raise your level of networking - NEDs must ‘network, network and network’. The trick to finding out about the right opportunities – and which ones are realistic – is to adopt a methodical approach targeting who can help you. Think about who you can approach to ask for help, especially reactivating past contacts and thinking more broadly about new ones. Find a mentor – Talk to a NED in your organisation, they might be able to help or talk to a membership body such as the Non-Executive Directors’ Association (‘NEDA’) to get some advice and find the right person for you. Boardroom diversity continues to be a hot topic, especially from an age, experience and new skills perspective. Younger executives in particular should be given the opportunity to take on external NED roles at an earlier stage and chartered accountants are well qualified to do this. ICAEW has a comprehensive selection of board readiness and corporate governance CPD training, most of which is run in partnership with NEDA. Further details can be found here: A practical training and certification programme - designed to provide current and aspiring NEDs with the knowledge and understanding to carry out their roles effectively. Louis Cooper is the CEO of the Non-Executive Directors’ Association, a freelance Governance and Risk Consultant and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. For more information on being a NED contact Louis via: email@example.com or visit www.nedaglobal.com
ICAEW’s Business and Management Faculty recently published new research into the many strategic roles of the CFO. The Faculty spoke to a wide range of interviewees and distilled the feedback into eight different strategic roles a CFO can take, explaining the relevance and importance of each. To understand the CFO’s relationship to strategy we talked to a wide range of interviewees who discussed the roles that the CFO plays in strategy. Clarifying these roles and how they can be combined to form a strategic leader is an important starting point for creating the role that best suits you and your organisation. This will depend on a range of drivers such as personal motivation, the skills of the management team and the type of strategy being pursued. Many CFOs commented that strategy is a team sport and some aspects of the role relate to the CFO’s collegiate responsibilities as a board member. The CFO cannot do everything and will need to focus on where they can add most value. Leader – with the CEO, take a lead role in strategic alignment Analyst – pull together the facts on financials, the competitive environment and strategic options Creator – contribute strategic ideas and create an environment where innovation flourishes Critical thinker – challenge strategic ideas and ensure rigorous evaluation Adjudicator – prioritise strategic initiatives and allocate resources Orchestrator – run the strategy process Implementor – turn the strategy into reality through financing, culture, budgets, KPIs and incentives Communicator – convince stakeholders to support the strategy; translate the strategy into financial terms Each of these roles is discussed in more detail below. What ideas do you have for helping members craft their strategic role? We would be delighted to update these resources based on your input. Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. CFO as leader As a leader, the CFO will have a vision of what sort of organisation he or she wants to help create. So while we are focussed on strategy within these resources, the CFO’s leadership role includes working with the CEO on vision, mission and purpose, which in many cases are precursors to developing an effective strategy. Ensuring the strategy, risk profile and organisational structure are aligned with these precursors is fundamental, as is fashioning an effective culture. We have found that leadership aspects of the CFOs role are highlighted in CFO comments we have collected such as, “the CFO needs to lift up the business to think longer term”, “the CFO needs to be outward looking”, and “customer focus is essential”. CFOs also pointed out that leadership is not the same as command and control. Effective CFOs consider how they can empower staff, create flexibility and an environment where new ideas can flourish and be implemented, free from needless bureaucracy. COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of agility when dealing with uncertainty and businesses will be keen to ensure such agility is maintained. The breadth of the CFO’s role can seem overwhelming, but this can be managed by building an effective team, working productively with other parts of the organisation, drawing on outside help when necessary, and carefully prioritising where to spend time and effort. The strategic roles we explore are designed to help CFOs and aspiring CFOs craft an appropriate role. It is not expected that CFOs will need to fulfil all of them, all of the time. As mentioned by many of the CFOs we spoke to, strategy is a “team sport” and different strategic roles will be more or less important at different times depending on circumstances. CFO as strategic analyst “Strategy is largely about understanding the market. Finance help with analysis, including competitive position, business cases, evaluating different ideas.” Perhaps the most accepted strategic role of the CFO is that of strategic analyst. Its importance should not be underestimated. Jim Collins, in the book Good to Great, emphasises the need to understand the brutal facts confronting an organisation if it is to be successful. The current and forecast financial circumstances of the organisation are among the most important facts. This was echoed by a CFO who stated, “the CFO is best placed to highlight the cold hard facts and ground things in reality”. But care is needed not to crowd out strategic thinking with too much time spent on detailed financial analysis and budgeting. Many of our interviewees were outward looking and involved in pulling together information covering all aspects of an organisation’s circumstances. Some found the PESTEL mnemonic useful to ensure their analysis covered the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal forces at play. Many also worked closely with marketing teams to decide upon which markets to be in and which to exit. One CFO stated, “The CFO is often better informed than others on competition and market trends”. Looking at the past and present has to be combined with analysis of what is on the horizon and assessment of the implications for an organisation’s strategy. In particular, strategic scenario planning, exploring the implications of key business drivers, trends and uncertainties, can reduce the risk of becoming too insular and too focused on one possible future. Notably, businesses have found short to medium term scenario planning an important tool in trying to weather the pandemic. Clearly, when broad strategic ideas become narrowed down, the CFO plays an important role in analysing specific initiatives and business cases. Where strategies are fast moving, emergent and opportunistic, ensuring new initiatives make strategic sense will be a constant requirement. CFO as creator “Finance should be there for ideas generation; they provide a diversity of views in the creative process and can do disruptive thinking.” There is no doubt that CFOs can contribute strategic ideas and shape strategy. One CFO we spoke to was integral to refocusing a construction business on its core competencies and disposing of a number of non-aligned subsidiaries. And many CFOs go on to become CEOs where strategy creation becomes a core task. The creator role is not just, or even mainly, about generating radical new ideas from scratch. It includes using the CFO’s overview of the business to see where successful initiatives can be used in other parts of the organisation. Equally important is playing a role in creating a culture and space where people can safely suggest and explore strategic ideas. One of our interviewees stated, “you need to ensure tentative ideas are captured and, even if they are not immediately useful, they may become important in the future”, and another in a similar vein, “you need to spot what’s interesting — let’s explore. Don’t let it get lost”. There are limits. One CFO in the manufacturing sector stated: “If you are relying on the CFO for creative product ideas that is not a good place to be…the CFO is not really cut out for knowing what the customer wants…you need someone with a passion and understanding of those things…imagination cannot come from finance you need wonderful engineers.” While it may be the case that the CFO is more likely to contribute creative product ideas in certain industries, such as financial services, it is also the case that CFOs are users of many products and may bring a useful customer perspective missed by those thinking about products day in, day out. And, strategic creativity goes beyond markets, products and services. It also includes how an organisation structures its business model and identifies acquisition targets. CFO as critical thinker “You need to prevent people going up blind alleys, challenge conclusions, ensure they are realistic and that you have truly got the skills and resources to implement.” Strategy is often about dealing with tensions, dilemmas and trade-offs, such as balancing long-term initiatives with short-term pressures. It is through critical thinking that CFOs help organisations manage these tensions. Critical thinking requires a CFO to be disciplined, clear, rational, open-minded and informed by evidence. As one CFO stated, “the CFO is the least emotional person in the room”, and, another, “the CFO is important to the quality of thinking”. Critical thinking is a part of many strategic roles. For example, as an analyst the CFO needs to choose from and synthesise an overwhelming volume of information to make it accessible, meaningful and useful for the board and executive teams. "The call I have to make is what assumptions and information I am taking responsibility for and what assumptions and information I need to highlight and discuss with the CEO”, stated one of our interviewees. The chief executives we spoke to mentioned the need to use critical thinking to tell truth to power and challenge strategic ideas. CFOs are well aware of this need, along with the need to earn the right to challenge and the high level of skill required to reduce the risk of conflict. One tip from a CFO was to use the question: “How can we build on that to achieve X?” The CFO influences others by leading by example when it comes to critical thinking, but one CFO felt she had to go beyond this and “push the executive team to be informed enough”. CFO as adjudicator “It's likely that only the CFO and the CEO understand all the strategic plans, so only they can prioritise and see where compromises are needed.” Making the most of limited resources is core to achieving competitive advantage. The CFO is often, like it or not, cast in the role of adjudicator. When there are conflicting views on which strategic projects to approve and where to put budget, the CFO will need to weigh up the options and come to a considered view. In particular, CFOs “need to stop time-wasting initiatives that do not align with the strategy”. Financial management is about creating value, not just about cash conservation and cost reduction, although the pandemic has brought these to the fore. Where possible, resources need to be made available for innovation and experimentation, to help ensure a business has a long-term future. As we discuss in our report on the nature of strategy, sometimes strategies are not developed through big, one-off decisions but emerge from a pattern of smaller, operational decisions. Whether or not the CFO and his or her team are directly involved in these decisions, the CFO will need to be conscious of the patterns emerging and ensure they are consistent with the long-term vision and mission of the organisation. For example, if the organisation is aiming to be a leading digital player, driving sales through the web and social media, the CFO may need to question the inconsistency of regularly hiring direct sales staff. How the adjudicator role plays out in practice will depend on the decision-making processes within the organisation. Are things largely driven by consensus? Does the CEO make the final call? How much delegated authority do managers have? Does the CFO have a right of veto? CFO as orchestrator “Here the CFO is leader of the strategic process.” Orchestrating the strategic process often falls to the CFO, particularly in the absence of a chief strategy officer. With a formal process this will cover the basics of setting out timelines, milestones, pulling together discussion papers and documenting decisions. In particular, “the CFO has to make sure the board has sufficient knowledge of strategy to make key decisions. A lot of preparation goes into getting the board agenda right.” One CFO argued that apart from financial knowledge, “CFOs know a little about a lot, others know a lot about their sphere. CFOs don’t know enough to make decisions, others are better placed. But the CFO should be skilled at getting the right people in the right place with the right information to make a decision.” With their overview of the business, CFOs are well placed to lead a cross disciplinary strategic team. While most people want greater involvement in strategy some CFOs pointed out that this is not always the case, with strategic discussions seen as pointless. One CFO told us that part of the orchestrator role was about “firing people up with it” and “scaring them [the executive committee] about the future and creating a sense of urgency”. Most of our interviewees were sceptical about using consultants for strategy formulation – “Strategy has to be owned by the company; we only use consultants for specific projects.” CFOs view strategy as an organisation’s core competence and were concerned that consultants would come up with generic strategies which cannot create competitive advantage. However, CFOs did realise that consultants could plug gaps in knowledge, such as around new markets and technologies, and also that they could be used to overcome political resistance to strategic change. As an orchestrator, the CFO will also need to consider whether the strategic process is right for the organisation. Is it too bureaucratic or too informal? Does it strike the right balance between planning and emergence? Overall, it is important for the CFO to develop a process which generates the right amount of time spent on strategy and makes the most of such time by preventing people from getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. CFO as implementor “The CFO can never walk away from strategy implementation.” The CFO’s role as strategy implementor relates to the adjudicator role in influencing priorities and where to direct resources. This is seen most prominently in the CFO’s role in leading the planning and budgeting process. Allocating budget and resource is usually a negotiation process but, “the CFO sets the boundaries of what can be achieved within financial constraints”. Moreover, the CFO and his or her team will play varying roles in the myriad of smaller decisions that will either support or detract from the organisations vision and strategy. Again, a CFO needs to know where they can add most value and where to get involved. This is particularly important when the strategy is more emergent in nature. There are a number of key processes which impact strategy implementation where the CFO plays a central role. Not least is the role the CFO plays in obtaining the financial flexibility to deliver the strategy using the most appropriate funding options. “Key for the CFO is creating the financial flexibility to weather financial storms and exploit opportunities – everything requires funding.” There is then the need to ensure that there is alignment between management information, objectives, key performance indicators and incentives with the strategy. Risk management systems also need to be aligned with the risk appetite implied by the strategy. Strategy implementation is not easy, therefore monitoring the progress of an organisation’s vision and strategy is essential to ensure corrective action can be taken if necessary. This is not just about whether the financials are on track and strategic milestones are being met. The CFO needs to have processes in place to monitor whether the environment is changing or competitors are making faster progress. If so, the CFO can initiate a strategic review before it is too late to respond. For more on the CFO as implementor see the Business and Management Faculty’s roundtable write-up “Key concerns for CFOs”. CFO as communicator “Whenever you talk to stakeholders it has a strategic angle...The CFO and CEO own the narrative and are in charge of the communication of it.” Convincing external and internal stakeholders to support an organisation’s strategy is essential; without their active support strategy implementation becomes impossible. This is perhaps most visible in the CFO’s role in investor relations. With an intimate knowledge of the strategy, the CFO can connect the strategy to the numbers and communicate it in a language that makes sense to investors. Some CFOs spoke of this in terms of being a “translator”. This is perhaps most important in communicating an organisation’s strategic approach to climate change. CFOs also emphasised communication with the board, including non-executive directors, and the internal communication of strategy. One stated: “Selling strategy to staff is underestimated…good CFOs are always doing this selling”. According to another, “the CFO needs to be part of selling strategy internally – again and again. We did mean it, we are going to do it. You have to get people truly in line.” However, there was a dissenting voice who said that, “cascading the strategy in an organisation is better done by the CEO and business heads”. Another translation aspect of communicating strategy is trying to ensure there is a mutual understanding of what strategy is. Our report on the nature of strategy discusses multiple definitions of strategy, none of which are right or wrong. But if people are not on the same page it can lead to confusion, wasted time and a failure to discuss key components of strategy. This is probably one of the key reasons for frequent stakeholder complaints about organisations not having a strategy. CFOs can take the lead in avoiding such issues. If you are ready to take the next step in your career journey take a look at our job listings and other career advice.
The term “hybrid working” is now firmly entrenched in the business lexicon, but as staff rush to tear up their season tickets to embrace the freedom of time split between working from home and the office, how can you be sure that even if you’re far from sight, you’re not far from mind when it comes to career opportunities? As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and we inch closer to working in the office, concern is rife that staff who are more visible to managers are more likely to be on the radar when it comes to promotion opportunities, career development and even earning potential. Analysis of data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that between 2013 and 2020, people who worked from home were on average 38% less likely to have received a bonus compared to those who never worked from home. They were also far less likely to be promoted or to receive training. The question is, how can you ensure that you’re doing a good job of being noticed by your manager when you can’t be seen? Although they should already have oversight of your tasks and responsibilities, there are several things you can do to ensure you’re on their radar. Be transparent about your schedule If you’re working remotely, you should actively keep in touch – even if it may feel like you’re overcommunicating. Routine is not only good for your productivity, but it helps your manager keep track of what you’re up to at work. “Being clear about when you are and aren’t available goes a long way to building credibility and trust,” says Lee Owen, a Director at recruiter Hays Accountancy & Finance. Schedule regular communication Whether it’s a weekly phone call, a chat over Zoom or Teams, or an emailed KPI report every fortnight, commit to regular one-to-one communication with your boss to discuss your work, achievements, and career goals. “They’ll be just as time-stretched as everyone else so rather than email every time you complete a task, remind them to schedule in face-to-face one-to-ones regularly so you can talk through progress and report on your successes,” add Susy Roberts, an executive coach and founder of people development consultancy Hunter Roberts. Seek advice and feedback Whenever you and your manager are working together, ensure you ask for their feedback. “This provides them with the opportunity to acknowledge your efforts and helps you maximise opportunities for growth,” Owen says. Take ownership and demonstrate commitment When you have the capacity, express interest in owning projects or leading your team through a new piece of work. Even if you can’t immediately find opportunities to step up, showing that you’re up for a challenge will make your manager more likely to consider you first when they do arise, Owen says. Embrace stretch development If you have capacity, ask to take on something new that might take you out of your comfort zone, or if you have ideas for new ways of doing things, suggest them. “Businesses are increasingly looking to develop and recruit people who thrive on change, so don’t be afraid to suggest new ways of working. Demonstrating a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset is critical,” Roberts says. Contribute positively in meetings It can be hard to be noticed on an online Zoom or Teams call. When you’re in meetings make sure you’re positively contributing so people can see your value. “If you find yourself repeatedly passed over or talked over, suggest a round-table format, where everyone gets the chance to talk in turn, or even offer to host the meeting yourself and set the agenda,” Roberts says. Alternate your communication channels All too often we default to the most efficient methods such as email, instant messaging systems like Slack, or even texting. “While these tools have their benefits, they limit your ability to pick up on non-verbal communication cues that come from one’s tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language — all of which can help you connect with your team,” warns Amanda Augustine, careers expert for TopCV. Consider picking up the phone or doing a quick video call to ask a question rather than shooting another email or Slack message. Make a wider contribution Consider volunteering to become a mentor to someone more junior so you’re making a wider contribution to the business. “Report back to your line manager with suggestions and insight – making sure to respect anything told to you in confidence - to show that you have emotional intelligence,” Roberts says. If you don’t have time to formally mentor someone, look out for people who are struggling and offer emotional support to them.” Share your success and thanks Feeling proud of a piece of work? Don’t be afraid to share it with your manager. It’s fine to send a casual instant message rather than an email, and perhaps frame your achievement by saying “thank you for your support with this” to acknowledge the role that they might have played in this success,” Owen says. People who do well have a habit of just getting on with things, particularly women, Roberts adds “so don’t be afraid to be vocal about your achievements. Other people will be, and they’ll be the people who are earmarked for progression.” For those working from home, whether out of choice or due to a whole host of reasons, which could include health or caring responsibilities, it’s important to know that there’s no need for you to overcompensate, says Jessica French, Development Manager at CABA, the wellbeing charity for chartered accountants. “Just because you aren’t physically in the office, that doesn’t mean you need to work twice as hard, or twice as long as your colleagues to show your commitment. Doing this you can run the risk of burnout, for fear of being forgotten or side stepped,” French warns. “Use the video platforms to assert your presence, and let your work speak for itself.”
There is plenty of advice for how to land a good job, but what about how to resign professionally? Whether you’re dissatisfied with your current position, have found something better or are simply ready for a change, resigning can be stressful. Yet, resigning professionally is paramount to keeping a good reputation in the accounting world. It might seem that resigning from your job would be as simple as giving proper notice, but it’s not that easy. Here are our tips for how to resign professionally. The resignation conversation is always awkward. But maintaining positive relationships with old colleagues can be really valuable down the road if you are looking for references or connections to other firms. Here are some tips on how to resign gracefully and on good terms. Follow the resignation rules of your company Before resigning, check your contract of employment or your employee manual for the expected notice period. This could be two weeks, a month or, in some cases, much more. It's a professional courtesy to honour these guidelines, while any applicable termination benefits may also depend on it. No matter how much your new employer is pushing you to start as soon as possible, you have both a contractual obligation and commitment to your current company to see out your contract. If you’re going to work for a competitor after resigning, check for any contractual boundaries that prohibit you from doing so. If you do decide to move forward despite this agreement, you may be asked to leave the premises of your current job immediately. Resign face-to-face While it might be awkward or even nerve-wracking, it's important that you resign with integrity and arrange for a face-to-face conversation with your employer. There is nothing worse than a resignation email without the chance for a frank and open conversation. As simple as it might be, this is the key on how to resign on good terms. There are, of course, jobs where resigning face-to-face is not so easy. For example, if working remotely or as a contractor, in which case we suggest arranging a video conference or telephone call. Be gracious During your resignation meeting, make sure to take the opportunity to thank your line manager and wider team for the experience and the opportunity you’ve had at your current job. Keep it positive Never gripe to co-workers about your dissatisfaction at work. Never bash your current job or bosses during an interview with a potential new employer. And never, ever, ever denigrate your current job on social media. Even after you’ve given your notice and moved on, refrain from public zealousness about how excited you are to get out of there. When asked why you are leaving, the ideal answer is “for a better opportunity.” If you don’t have another job lined up, you may have to be more honest, but always put a professional spin on it: “This isn’t the right environment for me” sounds a lot better than “I hate my co-workers!” Your resignation should be short and direct. Be confident about your decision to move on, yet appreciative of the opportunities you’ve had. And make sure word doesn’t get our beforehand. Maintain the status quo until your very last day While you’re thinking about handing in your notice, and even perhaps actively hunting for another job, maintain the status quo at work. Do your very best to ensure that your colleagues, replacement and clients are well equipped for when you leave. It’s easy to be swept up by the excitement of your new job and have a “last day of school” attitude but assisting in a smooth handover is the mark of a true professional. Start by highlighting any important pending tasks, transferring files and sharing knowledge with your co-workers while preparing to formally let clients know. Secure good recommendations Asking for a reference while you are still fresh in the mind of your employers will help you to secure more favourable responses. This is not only good practice for those still on the hunt but also if you have secured your next job. Prepare for an exit interview For some positions, an exit interview is a part of the resignation procedure. These are interviews often carried out by your line manager or member of the HR department. This should be treated as a normal interview, dressing nicely and preparing for questions in advance. Questions usually take the form of your time working for the company and how it could have been improved. It might be tempting to share everything that’s on your mind but remember to remain professional and to think about the positives of the role. Keep in touch Regardless of whether you are able to secure references, it’s good to stay in contact with all of your colleagues. As you move, don’t lose valuable contacts and continue to grow your network. You may decide to go full circle and work for the company that you once did, and having your previous manager in your favour is a great way to earn your place back. Additionally, your co-workers may be able to offer you opportunities as they grow within their careers. Knowing how to handle a job transition professionally is a valuable career skill. Unlike past decades, it’s common, and many believe prudent, to change jobs every five years or so in order to keep one’s experience fresh and one’s learning alive. ICAEW Academy offer high quality learning and leadership development solutions for all career stages, across a wide range of sectors. If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have the latest opportunities 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.
With major institutions like HSBC and Lloyds announcing large cuts to their office footprint, there has been renewed speculation across the financial world about the long-term future of the office. This is borne out by the latest research, which found 89 per cent of business leaders expect hybrid working between home and the office to remain a permanent feature, even after the pandemic is over. However, despite such a strong majority, the debate is far from settled, especially after the latest comments from David Solomon, chief executive at Goldman Sachs. Solomon called home working an ‘aberration’ that must be corrected ‘as soon as possible’, indicating that the working patterns across the financial world may be set to diverge sharply into two distinct camps. On the one hand, having people physically together can reinforce organisational culture and a spirit of collaboration but, on the other, allowing greater flexibility over location enables firms to broaden their talent pool and boost agility and productivity. When it comes to attracting and retaining the top talent, managing these issues can be tricky. A company’s approach to hybrid working – whether embracing or rejecting it – makes a big statement about corporate culture that can significantly affect the type of candidates’ managers can attract when trying to build a top performing team. But in a fiercely competitive market, what is the right balance to strike? Managing the move to remote working When discussing the need for financial professionals to return to the office as swiftly as possible, Solomon made no secret of his issues with remote working, speaking about his desire for Goldman to maintain its innovative and collaborative culture, as well as his concerns about the impact remote working has on training and development for junior staff. And Solomon isn’t alone – when asked about the problems of having a hybrid workforce, a survey of 1,500 executives were almost unanimous in citing these five key issues: Monitoring workloads Complicates hiring/onboarding new staff Maintaining culture Assessing employee wellbeing and mental health Hard to optimise engagement/collaboration Adapting to meet these challenges isn’t easy and businesses are having to make significant changes in how they operate, such as adjusting working hours and standard processes for remote employees or redesigning job descriptions and responsibilities to reflect workers capabilities. On top of this, nearly half (49 per cent) of remote-working employees are looking to switch to a four day working week to help cope with burnout which, if adopted broadly across the industry, would require major restructuring of teams and responsibilities for almost every firm. Yet despite the disruption that moving to a permanent hybrid model can cause, there are excellent reasons for banks to embrace the change. The first and most obvious is that it’s what employees are demanding, with an overwhelming 92 per cent saying they would like to either work from home full time or having the ability to choose on a daily or weekly basis – unsurprising when remote working has been shown to boost job satisfaction and productivity in the long run. This means that, for the vast majority of open roles, prospective candidates may be put off by a company which demands they be in the office five days a week. On top of this, adopting a hybrid approach enables firms to dramatically expand their potential talent pool for new hires as well as retaining key personnel who might otherwise leave. Best of both worlds It’s up to each financial institution to balance these trade-offs and find their own unique blend that enables them to retain their company culture while also attracting and retaining their best talent. However, there are several key steps that can help frame such discussions. The first is gaining visibility into how each role might be impacted by longer-term remote working – for example, our research has found that activities such as fund management, risk & compliance, or financial planning are among the easiest to be done remotely – and then analysing the impact of offering hybrid working solutions on the company as a whole. This means not only understanding how hybrid working might alter the organisational structure and culture, but what this means in comparison to competitors in the market. Then, once this is established, it’s about making sure that the right candidates are being targeted – not just in terms of professional skills but in terms of ethos and personality. There are good reasons why companies, such as Goldman Sachs, may choose not to allow remote working. However, this will inevitably limit the talent pool they are able to draw from compared to competitors. Therefore, they need to be partnering with experts who not only have access to find and access the best local talent, but who also understand the company culture and can find candidates who have the right personality to fit in from day one. Finally, it’s important to review these assumptions regularly as technology evolves, and job roles change. For instance, while financial advisors used to have to meet clients face to face for important security checks, today video conferencing has rendered a great deal of this face-to-face interaction optional. Financial institutions need to make sure they are keeping up with the latest trends and don’t fall into antiquated thinking about how certain jobs ‘should’ be done. The future of work - redefined With the fight against the pandemic far from over, it’s too soon to say what longer-term working patterns will look like in the aftermath of COVID-19, especially when it comes to the future of the office. Despite this uncertainty, financial executives need to decide where they stand on hybrid working (if they haven’t already). Making these decisions isn’t easy but, by ensuring they have a strong grasp of how each role will be impacted by remote working, and a good understanding of the ways in which the market is moving, it’s possible for the financial world to turn this disruption into a competitive advantage in the ongoing war for talent. If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have the flexible roles 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.