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The importance of continuous skills development in accountancy

25th January 2017

Accountant salaries in the UK and the US are expected to rise in 2017 as high demand in the sector for skilled professionals continues to rise. The current hiring climate has increased the need for multi-discipline accountants who can not only manage a wealth of regulatory changes, but also decipher how financial strategies will change. Workloads are likely to increase and expectations will be high. It is therefore key that accountants are able to access professional development opportunities and materials to develop their skillsets and remain confident in their current companies.

Stack of books

Acclimatising to upcoming industry change

New rules issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board from January 2017 will change the way almost every business should run and account for revenues. The aim behind many of these revenue changes are to enable companies to report proceeds sooner, but the benefits will only be felt if they are equipped with the skilled accountants on their side.

This is just one example of why accountants should continuously upskill every year. Accountants are expected to pass a series of examinations for their specific focus. This increases if they want to switch to a different area of expertise. Part of the role involves providing an effective and high quality service to initially win business contracts, then retain them by developing confidence, trust and skills.

Professional accountants must offer an effective and high quality service to win and retain business by maintaining trust and confidence amongst their clients. If you're familiar with the industry you'll already know that accountancy work isn't just about the numbers. Accountants often need to bridge a number of gaps in a business, serving as either contractors or permanent staff. With more firms looking to improve measurable performance in 2017, the hiring of skilled accountants on a project basis has also grown accordingly. Interim and permanent hiring climates are both buoyant following a string of significant events that has forced many to reassess their financial forecasts, and the skillsets they will need moving forward.

The hiring climate

CFOs need to evaluate and prepare for business and socioeconomic developments every year. Flexibility is key for achieving financial goals, so reluctance to change in the workplace will hinder success and waste time: a precious commodity within our sectors.

The current hiring climate is strong for accountants who can demonstrate that they can hit the ground running and develop professional and interpersonal skills quickly. Professional development is the second-most important remuneration and benefit factor for today's millennial accountants behind salary. This next generation are driving self-development opportunities in the workplace, as well as salary expectations at every level. Businesses who understand the basic needs of employees will ultimately retain their staff, but employee skills expectations are now greater, too.

Aptitude tests in the financial sector, for example, are now of paramount importance in the recruitment process. When competition and the weight of expectation are combined, other skillsets like management, analysis, delegation and presentation are given more gravitas.

Whether you're looking to switch to another subsector, improve your career options or simply meet the increasing demands within your current organisation, the importance of professional development in the accountancy sector cannot be underestimated.

Get in touch

We are excited to announce the introduction of Grafton Banks professional development sessions in 2017. We will be updating our site with more information in due course so please watch this space.

Our consultants have extensive knowledge and experience of the finance industry, enabling us to have a valid and relevant insight into the financial markets we service. Following decades of successful candidate placement in the accounting sector, we have developed a deep understanding of the importance of continuous professional development in a jobs market which is heavily reliant upon adaptable and flexible workers to manage annual change.

For an in-depth and confidential consultation about jobs and careers in finance please contact Nigel Jeyes on 01273 229499 or email Should you wish to contact us out of hours please call 07714 765482.

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