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The accounting skills most in demand

Candidates who are skilled at understanding data and how it works for a business partner will have plenty of options.

Accounting job and income prospects are good across the board, but recruiting experts indicate that individuals with up-to-date experience in data collecting and analysis are in high demand.

“We are now in a situation where the reporting and regulatory side is becoming more and more automated,” says David Cawley, regional director of recruiting company HAYS in Sydney. Candidates who are well qualified in understanding data and how it works for a business partner have a lot of options.”

As data-driven commercial decisions invade every facet of business enterprise, accounting is increasingly following the motto that it acts as a business partner and consultant.

“In five years, the talents we consider as cutting edge now – blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning – will be taken for granted,” Cawley predicts.

“Things are evolving at a breakneck pace.” Approximately 5% of jobs will be lost, and about 60% of jobs will lose about 30% of their work [due to automation] – so it’s all about figuring out how to replace that void with productive activity.”

Strong demand for accountants in public practice

The need for accountants in professional services and public practice is strong, according to Benjamin Jotkowitz, director of accounting recruitment specialist Benelux.

“Typically, candidates need three to five years of experience in commercial services.” They don’t have enough experience if they have less than that, and they have too much experience if they have more,” he says.

Staff for external audits, as well as professionals with tax and self-managed super fund knowledge, are in high demand, “but it’s seasonal.”

Candidates should look to professional services and public practice, according to Cawley.

“Nowhere is a corporate relationship more relevant and important than in public practise, especially in rural and suburban areas, where smaller communities necessitate higher levels of trust.”

“This is where practices set up MYOB and other procedures so that clients can manage their own finances.” So it boils down to collaborating with businesses to boost income,” he says.

Accountants: what are you worth?

According to Hays’ 2018/19 Salary Guide, professional accountants are in high demand. Business analysts and management accountants with project management experience, prominent data finance specialists, and those who can assist in the transition of accounting to a more digitised and automated future are among the most in-demand.

According to the report, 65 per cent of companies will give accountancy personnel a pay boost of less than 3% in their next review, based on a survey of 3000 organisations and 2.3 million employees in Australia and New Zealand.

People with proven talents who are willing to migrate into the small-to-medium enterprise sector and smaller start-ups based on disruptive technologies, on the other hand, are experiencing rises of more than 6%, according to Cawley.

He believes that anyone with a solid accounting education who is willing to work in a team to map out directions will be successful in one of these businesses.

Financial controllers and credit control, which secure a company’s cash flow, are also in high demand.

Payroll services are in high demand.

“It’s frequently an area where people don’t regard it as a great career opportunity, and it’s generally older people that hold roles,” Cawley adds, “but we have significant skill shortages in payroll.”

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Flexible work in accounting

Employers are also looking at flexible work practices as a retention incentive during periods of significant change, according to Cawley.

Flex work is “huge,” he says, but it’s also “a balancing act for many executives who need face time to be effective.”

Candidates come from the Big Four firms, where they were recruited as graduates, according to Moskowitz.

“They’re searching for a better work-life balance after around four years and are pleased to be placed in a mid-tier organisation,” he says.

In the current climate, more well-rounded applicants are more valued, and “employers are searching for candidates with Australian experience who understand the culture in which they are working.” We’ve discovered that international candidates don’t farewell.”

While data is an important driver of business operations, Moskowitz is optimistic about its ultimate realisation.

“A CFO can’t be automated,” he says.

Five hiring trends in the accounting and finance profession

Three recruiting specialists have identified the top accountancy and financial skillsets that businesses are looking for in 2018 – and they claim that IT professionals are in high demand.

2018 is an ideal year to seek for accounting and finance jobs. According to Andrew Brushfield, Victoria and Western Australia director at recruitment agency Robert Half, a robust economy is fueling a hunger for hiring across the country.

“Accounting is an excellent field to enter. It makes no difference whether corporations disclose figures that are red or black, large or small; they must nonetheless submit statistics. The good news is that many businesses are expanding.”

Three recruitment specialists spoke with INTHEBLACK about the trends they expect to see in 2018.

Finance skills in demand


“There’s always a scarcity of skilled accountants, both inside the profession and in industry,” says Benelux director Benjamin Jotkowitz.

So, what are the most in-demand roles?

“It’s difficult to locate candidates with three to five years of business services expertise,” he says. “It’s difficult to find senior auditors and audit managers in the auditing field.”

“We’ve never seen such a high demand for analytical and commercial accountants,” adds Brushfield.

“Businesses want more from their finance and accounting departments. That ‘more’ is typically greater commercial information… bringing the back and front offices together, being aware of pricing as well as commercial and operational trends.”

Many companies are hiring for these positions on a contract basis. “In the previous year, we’ve doubled our temp book,” says John Meehan, associate director of financial services at Robert Walters. Temporary positions allow small businesses to better manage their personnel while also allowing large corporations to recruit without running into headcount concerns.

“It’s easier to secure approval for a contractor because the annual budget isn’t affected.”

The evolving CFO role

CFOs were expected to do more than money in 2018.

“Clients want all-around with a wide range of experience — someone who can do a lot more,” Moskowitz says.

HR, IT, and strategy are now all part of a CFO’s remit.

“In addition, organisations are searching for candidates who are more hands-on.”

According to Meehan, CFOs require excellent stakeholder abilities such as leadership, communication, and business collaboration.

“When organisations hire a CFO or head of finance, they want someone who can increase revenue.” They’re looking for someone who can assist the company make more money, which hasn’t always been the case.”

Employers seeking IT skills

In 2018, all three of INTHEBLACK’s experts emphasised the necessity of IT skills for accountants and finance professionals.

According to Moskowitz, “technical accounting skills are a given.” As businesses migrate to cloud-based technologies, employers are increasingly looking for specific IT systems skills.

Employers are looking for people with excellent data and modelling abilities as well as Excel skills, according to Meehan, who explains that they want “someone who can look at enormous sets of data, pull reports that add value, and present them to the business.”

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“The barrier between accounting and technology is blurring,” Brushfield says. To get the most out of CRM [customer relationship management] systems used by accounting operations and “offer the commercial intelligence that sales divisions within organisations expect,” candidates must have strong IT capabilities.

Work-life balance for finance professionals

Work-life balance was a deal-breaker in 2018. Employers who provide benefits such as health and wellness programmes, the ability to start and leave early, and the ability to work from home are prioritised by candidates.

“Companies are providing personal trainers every week or an additional level of health checks and diet and fitness information sessions,” says Brushfield.

“Most firms recognise that if they offer work-life balance, they have a higher chance of retaining their top employees.”

However, not all employers follow through on their promises. “Many claim they’re going to do a number of things,” Moskowitz adds. “They’re going to give work-life balance, or a job share, or a start early or a pick-up the kids early.” “However, it does not necessarily translate into reality.”

Attracting millennial employees

Younger workers are leading the charge for a better work-life balance.

“Millennials are attracted by the softer stuff that firms offer: work from home, benefits, reading clubs, and sports clubs,” Meehan adds. “That is unimportant to the elder generation.”

Recruiters have had to adapt the way they talk to candidates as a result of this transformation. “Now they want to know what the company offers and what the benefits are.” It’s not even about money,” adds Meehan, who believes millennials aren’t motivated by money.

“It’s the extra benefits that the companies provide that they’re after.”

According to Moskowitz, a common millennial refrain is “what’s in it for me?”

“They shop around for other employment; there isn’t always a lot of loyalty.” “Those candidates move every two to three years – you don’t see them stay for more than five years,” he says.

“It’s not that these candidates are unhappy in their jobs; it’s just that ‘I’ve served my two years,’ and now it’s time to move on.”

This restlessness may be fueled in part by the desire of the younger generation to perform more stimulating job.

“They want to meet the CEO, compete with the senior business team, and work with the sales teams,” Meehan says. “Rather than sitting in a corner creating reports, they want to be exposed to the business.”

The top 8 issues facing accounting practices today

To provide accurate advice to their clients, practitioners must stay up to date on any tax changes.

The modern accounting business faces numerous obstacles, including constant changes in the tax system, acquiring and maintaining people, and recognising the influence of technology on your operation. Here are eight of the most pressing concerns facing public servants.

1. Keeping up with tax changes

The necessity for public practise accountants to stay current is higher than ever because the tax system is constantly changing.

According to Robyn Jacobson, a senior tax trainer at TaxBanter Pty Ltd., the changes can have a significant impact on a large number of taxpayers. This is the case regardless of whether the changes are intended to stimulate particular subsectors of the economy, help particular taxpayers, close loopholes, or directly raise more money.

At the CPA Australia Public Practice Conferences in May and June of 2018, Jacobson presented a talk on the most significant shifts that occurred over the course of the previous year.

Jacobson continues by saying, “The majority of the tax policy I’m witnessing right now is a response to groupings of noncompliant individuals.”

It’s possible that only a few employees in a certain industry are breaking the regulations, but the government will nonetheless investigate the whole sector even if it’s just a few of violators. According to an old proverb, “It’s like using a sledgehammer to burst open a walnut.” [Citation needed]

“Under certain conditions, only a small number of persons are engaging in illegal activity; yet, the government continues to enforce integrity measures that affect everyone.”

According to Jacobson, a number of the measures are “extremely sophisticated,” making it more probable that taxpayers and advisers may make errors that were not intentionally made.

According to her, in order to provide appropriate counselling to their customers, practises “must be aware of all of these developments.”


2. Being aware of crackdowns on work-related spending

Work-related expense (WRE) claims are also being scrutinised by the Australian Taxation Office. The WRE gap (the difference between what you can claim and what is claimed) is anticipated to be bigger than the A$2.5 billion corporate tax deficit, according to Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan.

Overclaiming is considerably more problematic, according to Jacobson, when an agent is responsible for preparing the return.

It is essential to be aware that in order to deduct a cost, you must have actually paid for it; there is no deduction that is automatically applied to your return.

According to Jacobson’s line of reasoning, “the lesson is that nothing stays the same – tax changes are unavoidable.”

“Once a month, I go out to clients’ locations and talk to them about the enhancements, and there’s always more to talk about once the next month rolls around.”

3. Meeting the deadline without committing suicide

Client service is the lifeblood of public practise accounting firms.

A practise that does not place a high priority on providing excellent customer service will not be around for very long. In the past, there was a period of time between client deadlines during which practitioners had the opportunity to rest and prepare for the subsequent task. These days, however, practitioners are required to rush from one stringent deadline to the next.

“Deadlines are crushing individuals with wonderful technical talents, and they’re burning out,” says Alena Bennett, a leadership specialist from “Deadlines are crushing people with excellent technical talents, and they’re burning out.”

“It is not due to the fact that they are becoming less skilled at what they do over time. Rather, it’s because they haven’t had the opportunity to observe how excellent technical ability may be complemented with leadership traits.”

Why is there virtually no downtime at all these days?

According to Bennett, a certified public accountant, “the number of changes in the market is increasing, which suggests that the volume of work is also increasing.”

Obviously, the staff’s perspectives on work and the proper balance between work and life have evolved. In the past, everyone would stay until the job was finished, but these days, it is more common for people to depart at 5.15 p.m.

Bennett argues that this means the partners are responsible for completing the assignment on their own.

4. Gaining the support of customers for new technology

Bennett says that public practitioners have a responsibility to be abreast of continuing regulatory developments so that they can properly counsel their customers.

“As technological advancements continue to occur, practises are confronted with new challenges, such as identifying the appropriate investment, effectively adopting new technological solutions, and securing client buy-in.”

5. Building or keeping up your accounting firm

So, what exactly is the response? How can a business that is continuously under pressure maintain not just its current level of operations but also continue to expand? When you have to rush from one job to the next, it might be difficult to find the time to invent new ideas or surprise customers with improved delivery and more personalised communication.

Bennett offers advice on the following four topics:

  1. Make sure you’re on the right track. Your practise must adapt to the changing landscape. Non-essential tasks should be delegated or eliminated.
  2. Consider how the adjustments in #1 might affect the kind and frequency of your client encounters, as well as how you spend the rest of your time. Streamline your processes.
  3. Make sure your clients and employees are aware of how the changes in your practise will affect them. Have fruitful discussions (see below).
  4. Keep in mind that any actions you do in steps 1–3 must be consistent with your practise philosophy. Now is a fantastic moment to revisit your practise philosophy if you don’t have one yet or haven’t done so in a while.

6. Considering the tiny adjustments you can make

“My challenge to those who hear my speeches is to go back to work the next day and do one thing differently,” says Bennett. “My hope is that you’ll find my talks to be entertaining and thought-provoking.”

“It might be as easy as talking to customers or employees in a different way, or it might be as simple as examining the repercussions of your actions and behaviour,” the speaker said. What are some things that you may try that would be different now that you are aware of it?

According to Bennett, even minor advancements that motivate others can lead to greater clarity and, as a consequence, an enhanced capacity for decision-making, both of which contribute to the overall growth of the organisation. It’s all about turning a negative cycle into a positive one, which is beneficial to everyone.

7. Improving your communication abilities

When Ondina (who now just goes by her first name), the director and personal presence specialist of Ondina Studio, first started working in the corporate world 21 years ago, she was plagued with “worst professional conversation habits.”

It wasn’t until six or seven years later that she had the epiphany that something needed to be different. Due to the rapid growth of her company, she was having an increasingly difficult time keeping track of all of her employees.

According to the words of one successful entrepreneur, “people get into company because they have remarkable skills in their chosen area.”

Ondina explains.

“When people do that, it doesn’t always mean that they have other skills that are important for running a business, particularly when it comes to managing people.”

According to her, the quality of the talks that take place in the office determines the quality of the relationships, which in turn influences the quality of the business.

“We all expect our workers to come in and accomplish the job,” she explains.

Because of how busy everyone is, we only have a very limited amount of time to have conversations. The satisfaction of their shareholders and the maximisation of earnings are primary concerns for many of the executives I’ve encountered.

“As we move forwards in the process, appropriate contacts with staff, which are essential in order to make these things happen, get pushed to the back burner.”

From active listening to self-awareness and knowing how one’s emotions may effect the discussion, Ondina breaks it down into easily consumable pieces that can be put back together to make meaningful change in the workplace. These pieces include tone of voice and conscious intent.

According to her, the most fundamental truth is that effective communication involves more than just the exchange of words.

“I help people understand and be conscious of how they come across, how they develop relationships, what their body language indicates, and what tales they tell other people,” she continues. “I help people understand and be conscious of how they form relationships.”

“By thinking, you bring about a physical sensation, and it is this emotion that determines how you behave.” The higher quality of your thinking will be reflected in the quality of your actions. What kinds of routines do you follow in your daily life? What is it that you are known for in the community? What are the thoughts that other people have about you? If you can get a comprehensive understanding of these ideas, you will see a significant increase in your strength.

8. Considering the long term

Accounting businesses need to take the initiative if they want to be competitive in the talent acquisition market. Because the industry is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, small and medium-sized practises will need to shift their strategies in order to attract and keep the next generation of practitioners.

It may be challenging for smaller companies to compete successfully against larger organisations that have more resources. Smaller businesses can still make use of a number of important recruitment tactics, such as highlighting the benefits of working for a small or medium practise and cultivating prominent brand awareness in order to establish a reputation for the company as an appealing place to find employment. These are just two examples.

Then there is the problem of planning for the next generation.

As a component of a transition plan for retirement, the sale of a public accounting practise should be supervised by an accountant, who is the most qualified candidate for the job. Excellent knowledge of finances and the corporate world. Knowledge of the art of negotiation that is invaluable. Strong interpersonal skills.

According to Bentley’s The Voice of Australian Business Survey, accounting firms are among the 43 percent of small businesses that do not have a sufficient succession plan in place. This is despite the fact that accountants are typically adept at advising their clients.

The process of selling a public practise has been increasingly challenging over the past ten years; hence, the final result will be significantly influenced by meticulous planning and careful examination of all available options.

To assist accountants in preparing for a potential sale, CPA Australia includes a toolkit for succession planning on its website. Within this toolbox, CPA Australia emphasises the need of presenting a firm as an appealing investment opportunity and developing its practise profile.

This should include information on the company’s history, team structure, vision, and competitive advantages, as well as details on all services and products offered to clients, as well as any referral sources; an analysis of the company’s client base; a rundown on the company’s marketing plans; and an overview of the company’s human resources and technology strengths.

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