According to the latest research published by global job board CareersinAudit.com, a large number of accountants (40%) are concerned that automation and technology will render their jobs obsolete in the coming future. This figure rises to 50% in the newer generation of accountants aged between 18 and 30, who are more savvy with the technological advances that could be in the pipeline for their career duration.
The research also revealed that 80% of accountants believe that their overall role purpose has changed significantly in the last 5-10 years, with 40% admitting that they feel they could be left behind in this changing job scope as they are lacking the skills required for the new responsibilities that accountants are now expected to perform.
What does this mean for the Accountancy industry?
Entitled ‘Feeling the Career Fear?’, the research was conducted amongst 1,431 accountants in August 2016 and explored the levels of fear felt by accountants in various areas of their careers, including;
- The dreaded job interview process
- Moving from industry to practice (and vice versa)
- The ever-changing role of the accountant
- The threat of technology and automation on day-to-day jobs
- Running one’s own business
- …and, of course, Brexit.
Many professionals no longer feel that working as an accountant for a company is a career for life, with 51% of respondents indicating that they will look to set up their own business in the future, either still within the profession as an independent accountant or in a different industry entirely. This percentage jumps up to 62% amongst the younger age bracket of 18-30 year olds who, growing up with the Dragons Den and surrounded by many successful web and app businesses, could be seen as more entrepreneurial and higher risk-takers. Six in ten accountants with entrepreneurial sights said they were planning to set up their own business within the next five years.
With many reporting concerns about the future of the role of the accountant in general and how safe their roles are in the face of possible automation advances, surprisingly, less than a fifth of accountants reported feeling concerned about the impact of Brexit on their role.
Other highlights of the research included:
- A third of all accountants fear the interview process (41% amongst accountants aged between 18-30). A fifth of these accountants fear the process so much that it stops them from applying for jobs.
- Three in ten accountants dread going to networking events – some so much that they pretend to be sick and others admitting they feel uncomfortable and awkward in social settings.
- Six in ten accountants would like to make a career change and swap to either industry or practice. However nearly half (43%) admitted that issues are holding them back from making the move including the economic climate, lacking the right skills and fearing the change would not pan out as they envisaged.
- Four in ten accountants are currently looking for a new job – with more than a third (35%) stating their reason is to work abroad.
- Western Europe continues to be the top destination to work abroad, with North America becoming increasingly popular year on year. This year saw Australia and New Zealand climb to the third most popular career hotspot.
Simon Wright, Operations Director, CareersinAudit.com comments:
“Skills, skills and more skills are what today’s accountants need more than ever before. Whether it’s fear of one’s role in the profession, going for interviews, networking or moving across to practice or industry, accountants cannot be paralysed by fear and instead need to embrace change.
“Compared to even five years ago, today’s accountant needs to be armed with a much broader range of skills including management, business advisory, technology and new business development skills.
“Now is the time for accountants to take control and ask their bosses for relevant training or get enrolled on courses to fill their skills deficit. If bosses are unwilling to help, then accountants should consider investing time and money outside their workplace or strike now and move to another company who will provide better career development support.”
The information provided from this survey on the general feeling amongst accountants and their plans for career changes is valuable for in-house recruiters to keep in mind when looking for professionals to join their companies. If recruiters can address some of the common fears of potential candidates in their job advertising or during the recruitment process they will attract more applications and those eventually hired will feel more satisfied and secure in their role with the company moving forward.
To read the full report on the 2016 annual survey by CareersinAudit.com and its findings, please click here.