Does Accountancy Still Offer A Safe Career Post Covid-19?

 

Does accountancy still offer a safe career post Covid-19?

Covid-19 has pushed many businesses and industries into crisis mode. As ever, in such situations the accountancy industry tends to thrive.

But will accountancy still provide a stable career choice in the months and years to come?

When the going gets tough, the clamour for jobs gets going.

For example in August this year, an advert for a trainee accountant’s job based in London appeared on job website CV-Library. Pre Covid, such an advert would only have handful of responses. Yet, the advertisement elicited a staggering 3,272 applicants!

It’s a trend evident across a number of sectors. Firms that previously struggled to recruit quality candidates pre-pandemic are now inundated with applications, with a great proportion looking for a career change. This leaves the recruiter with the additional challenge of assessing applications at volume within an acceptable time frame. Examining body, AAT, recently noted an uptake in ‘career changers’ applying to study. This should hardly seem surprising maybe given that one in four employees aged 16-34 are currently considering a new career as the economic impact of coronavirus pandemic bites.

In addition, new research commissioned by AAT shows that the accountancy and finance sector is seen as the third most stable profession – only rivalled by health, pharmaceuticals and teaching.

Whilst the rise in applications is partly down to the growing numbers of professional workers who have been made redundant, it also hints at a wider truth: during times of crisis, accountancy is seen as a stable, desirable profession.

As in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, accountants will be in demand to help companies restructure, identify unnecessary spends and navigate complex tax laws. With rising unemployment in the UK, accountancy looks set to ride out the Covid-19 induced recession relatively unscathed. Those already in the industry can also expect their workload to increase with the requirement to assist companies with the Brexit transition period, plus rapidly-changing tax and audit regulation.

But what are your chances of landing an accountancy job this year? Are there any sectors of the profession that will grow? And is it a good idea to move jobs within accountancy if you’re working in the industry already?

In the immediate future, accountants will be busy, as companies dealing with the financial havoc caused by the Covid-19 will be calling upon their help. One area of current high demand is within insolvency practice - set to become increasingly important over the next few years. This is perhaps no surprise given that the finances and revenue streams of many firms have been decimated by coronavirus, meaning they’ll be looking to cut costs and consolidate resources.

At present, many SMEs are prioritising cash flow and looking to strip any needless spending from their P&L statement - accountants skilled in cost-cutting will also be busy. There could be opportunities for tax experts who can deal with the tax issues triggered by government loans, as well as advisers with high EQ who can reassure anxious clients about their businesses.

As it has been noted by organisations across the board, during lockdown, the way in which employees adapted to working from home has triggered a cultural shift, with many firms now reviewing their flexible working practices.

When the financial crisis eventually fades, some of the other ‘threat’ issues to accountancy prior to the pandemic will come to the fore again - notably automation/technological disruption, cryptocurrencies and the rise of data-driven jobs.

Accountancy jobs won’t disappear, they will evolve.

Automation should relieve accountants of mundane admin tasks, leaving them with more time to focus on parts of their job that machines can’t do - advising clients, problem-solving and interpreting data - allowing the company can make strategic decisions.

Businesses increasingly depend upon data to forecast sales, strengthen internal audit and target consumers. For accountants, a crash-course in data isn’t a bad idea. This is alongside developing perhaps upgrading communication skills when perhaps translating information for the benefit of the board.

It is predicted that for the next few years many organisations will embark upon digital transformations to make themselves more efficient. This is good news for tech-savvy accountants.

Training and skill upgrades will be needed to move ahead in the digital age.

Any mid-level accountants seeking a career change, should perhaps consider upskilling in areas such as management/leadership or maybe look at specialised training to demonstrate the balance skill set needed to drive a business forward.

Increased workloads for accountancy practices.

It is also envisaged that there will be more openings at public practices and chartered accountancy firms due to clients needing increased help/advice dealing with the economic chaos unleashed by Covid-19 (not to mention post-Brexit uncertainty too).It is worth noting that chartered accountancy firms have always been candidate-short and job-rich ,so they’ll continue recruiting. This is an obvious entry level for young job-seekers/student accountants/career changers, because ‘do-ers’ are the powerhouses of public practice firms and it’s hard to find them.

With the government’s furloughing scheme complicating payroll runs at many companies, many smaller practices have recently needed extra payroll specialists on board.

The past year has also seen a rash of new businesses established by people who have either been made redundant or re-evaluated their careers while working from home during lockdown – potential new clients for the small ,local, accountancy practices

When considering applying for industry (in-house) roles, it’s worth thinking about what sectors are likely to flourish (or not) over the next few years.

Pharmaceuticals, (private) healthcare, food/beverage and FCMG/fast-moving consumer goods will have more opportunities for accountants as a result of the pandemic.

Sectors predicted to suffer in the next few years include travel and retail.

Accountants working within the public sector have been at the epicentre of the Covid-19 crisis, helping channel the enormous sums of cash currently flowing through the NHS, education and local authorities.

This busy workload looks set to continue. The government spending on coronavirus measures has seen public sector debt soar to £2 trillion, meaning cost-cutting is set to follow.

The funding shortfall caused by Covid-19 has left one in ten British charities facing bankruptcy, according to Pro Bono Economics. This shortfall could see the sector reaching out to accountants who can help them restructure as a commercial organisation would.

As the corporate world develops a growing ethical consciousness, the government has mooted that ‘green collar jobs’ could swell to 2m by 2030. So, auditors should reflect the financial risks of climate crisis such as carbon emissions in their accounts, this could create new accountancy roles too.

Accountants specialising in change consultancy will also be needed. When Covid-19 hit, many companies didn’t have technology set up for their people working remotely or pivoting from physical to digital-only. These firms will be putting in new systems, which could see more work for those accountants working in business change and systems implementation.

In conclusion, accountancy still offers a safe career option, but also an ever changing world of dynamic opportunities and possibilities.

 

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