Despite the fantastic work that accountants and bookkeepers do, the industry has an image problem. There’s still an old-fashioned perception, with little understanding of how you support small businesses and the wider economy.
We know from our recent research – Five biggest hurdles hindering accountants – that recruitment is a key hurdle you face, and this misconception among the candidate pool isn’t helping.
Beyond the battle for talent, we know you face other challenges too. Our report found the biggest of these to be an uncertain regulatory landscape, the need for increased digital agility and demonstrating value to small businesses.
But against this backdrop, accountancy is evolving, with a new generation of professionals setting the pace. Now we’re celebrating accountants tackling these challenges, to show why perceptions of the industry should change.
Confronting the pain points
Accountants are having to adapt quickly, spurred into action by a variety of external forces, from Brexit to the shifting timings around Making Tax Digital (MTD).
While these challenges are pressing, many of you are going above and beyond to rise to them. In our report, we outline how they can be addressed, including asking for improved support from the Government. For example, by offering tax relief on staff training in the latest technologies, or writing off investments in digital tools, accountants can be empowered to make the most of the opportunities they bring.
While these hurdles paint the picture of an industry in flux, attracting new talent will be at the heart of the solution. To do this, we must ensure the perception of accounting matches the reality – an industry built on brilliant people offering invaluable support for the small business economy.
Changing the face of accountancy and bookkeeping
We want to celebrate accountants doing things a little differently – those who couldn’t be further away from outdated industry perceptions. We also want to highlight how the industry is changing, and what this means for new recruits.
For example, the emergence of the accountant-advisor, who can make a real impact on a small business owner’s success, requires different skills to what the stereotype might dictate. Many of you are realising that traditional educational backgrounds and strong numerical skills aren’t as crucial as they once were.
Take Alex Beattie, managing director at KRW Accountants, for example. In his spare time, Alex volunteers for the army reserves, helping him improve the interpersonal skills which are now crucial in accounting. Callum Tingle, managing director of Fresh Business Solutions, owns an axe throwing small business with his brother. He believes it’s this entrepreneurship that helps him be more creative.
Zahra Kassamali, an accountant at Jaffer & Co, gets to see both sides of the coin by managing six BnB’s across London. This dual role gives Zahra a greater understanding of her clients’ challenges. And Neil Criddle, founder and CEO of NDC, is a heavy metal DJ by night, which helps him bring more of his personality to the day job. Finally, Hillary Dyson, founder of Bridge Financials, is an opera singer, a passion which enables her to connect with people after a day in the office.
These are just some of the accountants challenging the inaccurate industry perception. It’s time to shine a spotlight on accountants and for people to take note.
More needs to be done to educate the next generation on the realities of being an accountant or bookkeeper, and the value you add to small businesses. You provide the insight, guidance and support business owners need to thrive.
Find out more about our report here, and if you want to learn more about recruitment challenges, solutions and more, check out our free-to-attend event, Xero Talks: Winning the battle for talent.