Gen Z and the Future of Accountancy

The Future of Accountancy will be written, and ensured, by Generation Z – that most connected and digitally native of workforce demographics. The young professionals entering the workforce now, it’s safe to say, have done so on the back of an unprecedented decade of disruption, technical innovation, global movements of influence and trade and widening inequality.

Despite accountancy, auditing and the wider financial sector being one of the most stable and desired of career paths, employers in the sector need to be aware of the attitudinal and cultural differences, and expectations, inherent in Gen Z. This is especially important for hiring, and how employers assess Gen Z’s ideas around career progress, skills development and working culture. Your position as an attractive employer will hinge on understanding why younger workers view “opportunity” in this way.

Recently the ACCA, together with the International Federation of Accountants, released a report titled “Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the Future of Accountancy”. The report was an exhaustive, global study on the hiring and development of Gen Z workers, employer branding and advice for young professionals.

We have dived into some of the headline figures drawn from this report to highlight just what these generational expectations are, and what they mean for our innovative and growing industry.

64% expect to have multiple careers in different disciplines in the future:

  • Portfolio careers are nothing new, but such a majority figure indicates a completely game changing approach to career development. As we’ll see with other points, Gen Z workers value speed of development as much as the development itself, and want to generate a varied skill set. Employers therefore have to be aware that multiple “lateral” moves between companies or certain arms of finance are not a sign of a wayward career path, but a planned route by a young professional focused on wider skills development.

57% say they are worried about the impact of technology on their own job opportunities in future:

  • Many industries have felt the cold hand of technical redundancy over the last year, and while the worst of the pandemic is behind us, Gen Z workers are critically aware of the speed of technical innovation, which has only been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the rapid upscaling of the digital space, “As they have come of age, (Gen Z professionals) have witnessed technology being adopted at scale and replacing jobs”.

47% think the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills is the key attraction factor for accountancy:

  • This is one of the most positive points from the report: accountancy is seen as a trusted career path that gives Gen Z workers the chance to build more than just linear job progression: it’s a vehicle for skills development (and therefore employability) to aid the building of their entire career.

58% of respondents cite job security as a key concern:

  • The flip side of the above positivity is the majority of respondents stipulating insecure job prospects and well-being as primary, negative, issues. In fact, this report found more introspective wellbeing issues – such as mental health – ranked a lot higher than more societal, wider issues, such as climate change. However, this could be because the last 18 months has been dominated by the pandemic. Nevertheless, the report recipients highlighted a decade of economic disruption, capped off by COVID-19, as bellwethers for a disrupted career path.

60% expect to move role within two years, and cite speed of career progression as a very important facet of work:

  • Tacking neatly alongside the rise of career portfolios, the speed of progression within roles is a timely reminder of a generation feeling like they face an insecure future. As the report says, “…almost 2/3 expect their next role to be a promotion and half are eyeing an external move. It seems they are quite happy to take their talents elsewhere if they believe their needs aren’t being met”.

The bottom line

Employers know workplaces are always in some degree of flux as they slowly adapt to changing norms. The double whammy of COVID-19, and Gen Z’s wholeheartedly open approach to career building, means that business leaders have to find new ways to attract and retain a generation of talented workers who are cautious, worldly, fast moving and dedicated to personal progression.

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Photo by Alex Motoc on Unsplash

02-06-2021

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