Smaller firms offer transformed career path for accountancy professionals

The pandemic and need to adopt flexible, agile work are creating ‘great’ opportunities for accountants in small and medium practices

A new study from ACCA and CA ANZ has revealed small and medium practices (SMPs) could be the accountancy talent powerhouses of the future as they embrace digital transformation, flexible business models and agile working practices. Such changes will have a considerable impact on skills and career paths of the SMP community, the study predicts.

The study, Careers in Small and Medium-sized Accountancy Practices, a joint report from ACCA and CA ANZ, is based upon interviews with more than 60 SMP leaders from 20 countries. It highlights changes in skills and attitudes, evolving recruitment techniques and branding, talent development and retention as well as the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

It concludes that SMP managers need to be prepared to challenge traditional approaches and innovate in order to attract and retain talent, but equally that those who embrace transformation in all its guises will find rewarding careers in an SMP environment.

Anthony Matis, general manager of strategic engagement and development for CA ANZ, said: ‘While some may think smaller means lesser, when it comes to accounting firms, they couldn’t be more wrong. These firms are buzzing with talent, innovation and tailored expertise that delivers results for their clients’ time and time again.’

The report argues that the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised the importance of business agility. A majority of SMPs with a strong digital core have been able to quickly adapt in a changed world, while the pre-existing remote working culture has allowed SMPs to fully adopt a virtual environment, which has been essential to most during the global lockdown. However, this will also have had an impact on remote mentoring and on-boarding.

But the report states that practices now have the opportunity to use the momentum and strengthen their positioning as attractive employers for various talent groups. According to the report, during the lockdown, candidate video profiles accompanying traditional CVs and video interviews have become a usual component of SMPs’ recruitment processes.

Aleksandra Zaronina-Kirillova ACCA’s head of SME professional insights, said the association had launched the report not only to provide a practical insight for SMP employers to attract, develop and retain talent, ‘but also to show students and accountancy professionals that a smaller accountancy firm could be their next career destination and provide exciting opportunities for their professional development’.

The ACCA/CA ANZ report: Careers in small & medium-sized accountancy practices

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