Top 10 reasons to celebrate being an accountant

09 November 2015
  • More than half (52%) of FTSE 100 CEOs have a background in finance
  • The vast majority (88%) of financial services executives believe there are more varied career paths available in finance than five years ago
  • Two thirds (64%) of UK finance chiefs say there are more opportunities for women to advance through the ranks in finance and accounting than 10 years ago

London, 9 November 2015 – Finance professionals celebrating International Accounting Day on 10 November this year have every reason to feel optimistic about their prospects for future career success, according to research1 published in 2015 by leading specialist recruitment consultancy, Robert Half UK.  

Phil Sheridan, Managing Director of Robert Half UK, commented: “Finance and accounting continues to be an attractive and rewarding professional career. The industry is continually adjusting and creating new and varied career paths for qualified accountants and better opportunities for both men and women to reach senior positions in the companies they work for. Looking back over the year, we’ve identified 10 good reasons why finance continues to be a stimulating and rewarding career choice and why International Accounting Day is a cause for celebration.”

Robert Half offers 10 reasons why it's good to be an accountant:

1. Shoot for the stars

Our FTSE 100 CEO tracker published in April 2015 showed that over half had a finance background, while 27% were Chartered Accountants.  Choosing a career in finance is by far the quickest route to a senior board role.

2. Breaking the glass ceiling

Two thirds (64%) of UK finance chiefs say there are more opportunities for women to advance through the ranks in finance and accounting than 10 years ago, while 81% of finance directors believe a finance background will help women move into the top spot of chief executive.

3. Aren’t all bean counters and math nerds

While there are plenty of examples of people who trained as accountants but did not take it up as their full-time career (including such luminaries as Sir Mick Jagger and Eddie Izzard) there are some who used their finance training as the basis of success in other fields. Notable examples include author John Grisham and master saxophonist Kenny G, while financial blockbuster JP Morgan began his career as an accountant back in 1857.

4. The only way is up

Salaries for finance and accounting roles are predicted to grow by approximately 4.0% for senior positions in 2016, well ahead of inflation and general annual salary rises reported by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), according to Robert Half’s annual Salary Guide. These higher rises reflect the ongoing need for finance professionals who can add value through business partnering and providing strategic insight for the business, not just fiscal control. 

5. Shortages drive demand

The majority of finance chiefs (92%) say that they find it difficult to source talented professionals, while 87% are concerned about losing their top performers to other job opportunities.  Strong candidates are in a great position to plot their next move, whether that’s a fresh role, increase in remuneration or extension of their current responsibilities.

6. Softer skills rule

Finance professionals cite strong leadership skills as the top attribute that contributes to the success of finance and accounting professionals (60%), strong technical skills (47%) and effective communication (33%) follow behind.  Finance provides a great opportunity to develop a much broader set of skills than in the past.

7. Choices, choices

The majority (88%) of financial services executives believe there are more varied career paths available for skilled finance professionals compared with five years ago. There is no longer only one way to progress beyond qualifying stage and plenty of opportunities to do things differently such as work for a FinTech start-up, or a new online bank.

8. Technology-driven change

Almost half (48%) of finance leaders believe that increased reliance on technology to do business is the main reason for the increase in available career paths.  New opportunities are being created both by the digitisation of the finance function and the move by non-traditional players into financial services.  The nexus of technology and finance means that trained accountants will be at the forefront of exciting business change

9. Flexibility built-in

One of the main benefits that finance professionals look for from employers is the chance to work on a flexible basis.  The good news is that six in 10 (59%) UK finance leaders say they are more reliant on contract or temporary resources at a management or C-suite level than 12 months ago, creating plenty of opportunities.

10. Opportunities outside London

The majority of financial services company leaders (89%) believe there would be a benefit in operating one or more business functions outside the capital, with over a third (37%) saying that access to a broader talent pool would be the greatest benefit to transferring operations to the regions.

International Accounting Day is the professional holiday of all accountants, and is also frequently referred to as International Accountant's Day. Even though many countries have designated some local date for praising accountants, 10 November is the date that unites all people in the profession. This day goes back in history to year 1494, when book titled "Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita" (Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion) was published in Venice. This was the first book that contained essay on double-entry bookkeeping and provided a base for other works on mercantile accounting.

 -ENDS -

Notes to editors

1 The annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 200 interviews with finance executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location for companies across the UK and worldwide.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.