A decade of opportunity ahead for a UK accountancy profession that’s at a turning point

A decade of opportunity for Generation Z accountancy professionals and their employers is predicted by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants) in a new report published today Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the future of accountancy.

Gathering the views of 9,000 18 to 25-year olds globally – including 310 across the UK – the report throws fresh light on the aspirations and fears of this up-and-coming generation of young professionals, while also offering employment advice for them and employers alike.

This is a generation concerned about the future – 56% are worried about future career prospects, 48% about their own wellbeing and mental health, and 42% about the global economy and recessions.

The report also reveals that the profession is missing opportunities to attract more young people to its ranks.

UK Gen Z question the motives of the business world – just 26% say businesses are currently pulling their weight in fighting climate change; 37% agree business leaders have integrity and do what they say and 38% say business prioritise and take good care of employees. However, 60% also believe that business has a positive impact on wider society.

Lloyd Powell, head of ACCA Wales, explains: “Our findings present both challenges and opportunities for the accountancy profession and business here in Wales but also globally. And that’s because Gen Z demand more accountability from the leaders of the organisations in which they work, and they also have high expectations of their work–life balance and how employee welfare is managed.”

Other findings show:

  • UK Generation Z is keen to get ahead – 87% say they’re ambitious, but not as ambitious as those in Ireland (93%) and India (91%) – the two highest percentages; 85% also value flexibility and work life balance, and 82% value purpose and meaning in a job.
  • As expected, they’re also tech savvy – 90% say they’re very comfortable with technology and pick up new tech fast, and the same amount say technology will enable finance professionals to focus on high-value-added activity.
  • For those already working as accountants, 66% were drawn to it because of long term career prospects, and the 56% for the opportunities to secure a professional qualification.
  • And for those looking to become accountants, 41% are attracted to it as it offers the opportunity to be part of an established and accredited profession. Career portability also matters for UK respondents looking to start a career in finance and accounting with 45% saying this mattered. And 45% are also interested in the subject matter.

Lloyd Powell concludes: “Gen Z will bring their talent and tech know-how to the profession and change it, pursuing careers with purpose and doing jobs that make a difference. We very much see this as a message of opportunity and positivity as we work towards to achievement in 2030 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

To help Gen Z navigate the future, ACCA’s report recommends ways they can future proof their own careers, and realise their career dreams as work changes:

  1. Bring your tech know-how to the organisation: you’ll be greatly prized for doing this.
  2. Work your brand internally: make work engagements more personal to build deeper relationships in the workplace.
  3. Care for your health and build resilience

  4. Remember, it’s a team game: tech helps to build connections, and there are brilliant opportunities ahead to learn from others in the workplace.
  5. Disrupt yourself: think ‘sideways’ moves and be adaptable.
  6. Seek mentors, and find sponsors: actively seeking mentors and colleagues from different generations to provide you with essential support to help ‘fill in the blanks’ and give you vital knowledge and wisdom from years of experience is very valuable.
  7. Continuously learn: this is about being future proofed, about learning new knowledge, but also about being adaptable and proactive and having an open mindset to get new skills, to future proof your competence.
  8. Recognise the importance of the “early years”: The only person ultimately accountable for your career is yourself, and as a young person entering the workforce, its critical to recognise the importance of the ‘early years’ in work.
  9. Build life-long networks: keep connected and build a strong external network to expand learning opportunities and new career opportunities. Time invested in important personal relationships over the long term will always pay dividends.
  10. Pursue your dreams: the pandemic’s making many rethink careers and jobs in accountancy are changing, offering fantastic opportunities to contribute and make a difference. Pursue things that interest you, that provide purpose and career fulfilment. And even if you haven’t decided yet, finding something that interests you and at which you can become good at will reap benefits longer term.

The full report can be downloaded here: https://www.accaglobal.com/gb/en/professional-insights/pro-accountants-the-future/gen-z.html

About Lisa Baker, Editor 2357 Articles
Lisa Baker is the Editor of Always Finance, and writes about Business, Finance Technology and Healthcare. Lisa is also the owner of Need to See IT Publishing.