Future accountants ‘not team players’

Accountants will need to become more opinionated and develop greater data and risk analysis skills if they want their careers to progress in future, while cultivating listening skills and being a team player are set to be less important, according to research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)

A YouGov poll of 1,000 senior decision makers across all industries about what they saw as key characteristics for employees over the next 15 years.

While 80% saw communication skills as key at the moment, this fell to 68% in 2033. There was a similar dip in expected requirements for problem-solving, down from 79% to 65%.

Respondents felt some of today’s skills would continue to be important in the future, although less critical than they are now, such as being adaptable (75%/68%) and being proactive (66%/59%)

However, strongest demand will be for staff able to be a data analyser (36% currently; 46% in future), able to design (16%/20%), offering advice in a consultancy capacity (14%/16%) and strategic thinking (51%/52%), along with characteristics such as being innovative (47%/54%) and fearlessness (11%/18%).

Mark Farrar, chief executive, AAT said: ‘The rise in importance of skills such as being a consultant and strategic thinking shouldn’t come as a huge surprise when we look at recent office evolution.

‘Automation has removed more mundane manual tasks, freeing them up to concentrate on the more interesting and added value areas of accountancy such as the production of management information and trend analysis.’

AAT said the survey showed other skills will decline in importance due partly to the rise of artificial intelligence and flexible working leading to less employees actually being needed in the office.

They include working well in a team (78% currently; 60% in future), listening (76%/58%) and behaving ethically (56%/51%), which AAT cited as a concern. 

Farrar said: ‘It’s disappointing to see the rate at which managers feel that teamwork may diminish in the future, which can probably be attributed to the rise of automation leading to employers working more flexibly and having less “team” interaction.’

 The Future Accountant is here

Report by Pat Sweet

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