Another year has passed at lightning speed. Older? Definitely. Wiser? I hope so. It’s certainly been another unpredictable and challenging year in recruitment, but as it draws to a close, I have been reflecting on what I have learned and what the next twelve months could hold in the world of accountancy and finance.
There is no end in sight for the skills shortages that are driving an increase in outsourcing services overseas. Firms are also expanding their advisory offerings to provide businesses with greater management information, so they become much more than the traditional once-a-year annual audit and accounts service. Both areas of growth will heighten pressure to attract and retain talent and it could be a challenging time for businesses trying to keep salary demands under control.
Businesses that embrace people’s desire for a better work-life balance will fare well. According to ACCA, 83% of accountants would like to work remotely at least one day per week. In a candidate-driven market, embracing hybrid working and demonstrating that you can deliver on personal development plans will appeal to a wider talent pool.
Continuing to shape the future, technology already plays a big role in the accounting sector. Moving at a relentless pace, according to the ACCA, 63% of us would like more technology training. To stay relevant, businesses need to adopt a culture of technological innovation, which includes upskilling and valuing those skills in the recruitment process.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Employers will continue to place a greater emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in their recruitment strategies. With the benefits well documented, it is important to recognise the need for this in the accounting and finance sectors. A survey by Skills, Retention, and Attraction confirmed that 57% of UK businesses regard this as a strategic priority as it opens a wider candidate market and draws talent from all backgrounds.
Training and Skills
The ongoing impact of the pandemic and the training and skills gaps created means that while some professional roles will continue to call for college degrees, recruiters will be casting their net wider. Larger employers already target candidates in education, with entry-level recruits requiring lower salaries. Increasingly, it’s your talent rather than the pedigree of your institution or past employer that counts.
Relocate or Resign
For those not keen on hybrid working, 2024 will see a resurgence in the expectation that people head back into the office four or five days a week, meaning there are tough choices ahead. In the accounting profession, as a result, we expect to see more people choosing to move or simply resigning to find something closer to home that offers the flexibility they seek.
Set to become a significant part of the workforce, successful recruiters need to adapt to the distinct values, traits, and preferences of this generation. To attract and retain Gen-Z talent, companies need to leverage digital recruitment platforms, bring a focus to their social responsibility efforts, offer clear pathways for career progress and skill development, and provide a flexible working environment.
While I don’t profess to see the future clearly, I believe it will be bright for those who leverage technology, nurture inclusivity, and meet the needs and expectations of candidates and employees.
Embracing a better work-life balance and remote work preferences will widen your talent pool. Technological innovation remains key, with a strong call for more training in advancing technologies.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are rightly gaining prominence in recruitment strategies, and, with the evolving landscape moving toward valuing talent over institutional pedigree, Generation Z could be ready to take centre stage.
Despite the skills shortages driving outsourcing and the pressure to balance well-being with business demands, I remain optimistic in my outlook for 2024 as, however we see it, the journey will continue to be marked by challenges and buoyed by the resilience and adaptability of the accounting and finance industry.