Digital transformation and access to a network of talent are at the core of any successful small and medium-sized accountancy practice (SMP), says a new report from ACCA. Talent also has the potential to completely evolve and transform the accountancy profession.
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has joined forces with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) to launch the report Careers in small medium-sized accountancy practices. The global report is based on case studies from over 60 SMP experts from 20 different countries and focuses on talent, attraction, development and retention within smaller accountancy firms.
Highlights from the report show:
- Skills and attitudes for SMPs: Adaptability and the readiness to engage in continuous learning, openness to sharing and readiness to take responsibility during the earlier career stages, comfort with technology, critical thinking and entrepreneurial mind-sets were all key for a successful career in SMPs.
- Brand targeting recruitment is as important as the brand targeting clients: Messaging for attracting new talent to SMPs needs to be clearly communicated, which is important for SMPs who do not have recruitment resources, where screening and interviewing can be time-consuming. SMPs have compelling stories to attract talent and the use of social media is proving to be a useful tool in recruitment.
- Evolution of recruitment techniques: Traditionally, some SMPs still use psychometric testing or profiling, while other SMPs are embracing innovative practices, such as asking candidates to submit videos of themselves instead of writing a covering letter and submitting resumes, which have proved to be valuable during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Talent development and retention: staff retention can be critical for the smaller accountancy firms. Opportunities to progress and being able to learn and develop new skills are key to retaining staff. Building a continuous learning and development culture that engages and supports the workforce to adapt in line with business’ needs is vital to SMPs.
- Post-Covid19 truths: 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. The pre-existing remote working culture has facilitated SMPs to the 100% virtual environment, which has been essential to most during the global lockdown. This will also have an impact on remote mentoring and on-boarding.
Alastair Barlow, a case study in the report and founder of London based SMP flinder, says:
‘Most firms work on marketing for the purpose of bringing in clients. But at the early stages, we realised the biggest challenge isn’t winning the clients – but bringing in the right people. Essentially, we said our key target is potential team members.
‘Recruitment was a challenge until the firm started marketing itself directly to candidates, exposing its working culture via social media channels, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube.’
ACCA’s report author and head of SME professional insights, Aleksandra Zaronina-Kirillova, says:
‘We have launched this report today 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.
‘Now more than ever SMPs need to show their wider contribution to society, and professionals are increasingly looking for more purposeful and meaningful careers, especially during the new Covid-19 era. SMPs are becoming even more a lifeline to small businesses. Purpose, and not just the pursuit of profit, is fundamental to all organisations and SMPs are no exception.’
Anthony Matis, General Manager, Strategic Engagement & Development for CA ANZ says:
‘Hearing first-hand from global SMP leaders and experts provides an opportunity for the accountancy profession to gain much-needed insight and map out a path forward following in their learned footsteps.
‘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.’