Accounting Firms

Digital transformation and network of talent key for SMP’s

Digital transformation and access to a network of talent are at the core of any successful small and medium-sized accountancy practice (SMP), according to a new report from ACCA.

The trade body 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.

The key findings from the report show:

  • It found 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 was also said to be as important as the brand targeting clients. It found 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.

  • The report also points to the 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 has “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 was found to be “key” to retaining staff. The report advises building a “continuous learning and development culture” that engages and supports the workforce to adapt in line with business’ needs.

  • In addition, 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. 

ACCA’s report author and head of SME professional insights, Aleksandra Zaronina-Kirillova, said: “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.”

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