Recently we reported on the digital strategy challenges faced by the financial sector. The latest addition to the Southerly family, Joe, comes from a background developing content in the accountancy sector. Here he describes how accountancy as an industry is also dealing with a recruitment content marketing challenge to attract the next generation of accountants.
Accountancy has, for numerous decades, been a profession regarded far and wide as being boring, fusty and dry. However, those labels are being steadily washed away, for accountancy is a sector in transition. The long-established stereotype of accountants being number-loving hermits is fading fast, and those within the sector now require an updated set of skills – public speaking, technical nous and the ability to advise on long-term strategy, for example, are becoming more essential than ever before. Competition to reach and recruit this new wave of accountants is fierce; firms are having to adapt their content strategy to find some very niche personas, while simultaneously appealing to a set of individuals whose skills and services are very much in demand.
Recruitment marketing has become an incredibly valuable tool
To attract the new wave of accountancy talent, recruitment marketing has become an incredibly valuable tool. Graduates hoping to get their foot in the door at accountancy firms are fully aware of the role’s progression, and the content used to entice them must accurately reflect the abilities required of a new recruit.
Put simply, content marketing’s task is to convey accountancy in its 21st century guise, and to appeal to the people that will continue to drive the profession forward.
How we once were
Traditionally, accountancy has been a profession immune, and somewhat resistant, to wholescale or significant change.
For decades the role of an accountant has been to work with businesses on a routine basis to balance the books and find ways of utilising various tax efficiencies. For many a year the role of the accountant has been as consistent as it has been necessary, but those days are coming to an abrupt end.
The accountants of the future will need to be personable, proactive and technologically proficient
The accountancy sector is currently in the midst of a monumental shift in both attitude and working practices. Compliance, once the heart and soul of an accountant’s workday routine, is starting to take a back seat, while the provision of business advice and assistance when it comes to long-term strategy implementation is quickly becoming the profession’s bread and butter.
Sophisticated computer software, with particular reference to cloud services such as Xero and Quickbooks, can number crunch just as effectively as a human, while they also provide the added benefits of being cheaper and quicker; the traditional role of the accountant is being usurped; those within the sector are being forced to expand their offering in order to remain relevant and the companies that wish to recruit them must first demonstrate that they too have stepped things up a gear.
Savvy and sexy
Advancements in technology have by no means made accountancy a redundant vocation, but they have necessitated a revision of what the term ‘accountant’ actually means. And this has caused a recruitment content issue.
Many specialists that would previously have been called accountants are now referring to themselves as ‘business advisers’ or ‘business consultants’ so as to distance themselves from a job title that no longer reflects their professional function.
The shift away from sifting through piles of receipts and towards offering counsel is fundamentally altering not only what it means to be an accountant, but what skills are required to flourish in the role.
Maths, though eminently useful, is no longer the be-all and end-all. Instead, computer literacy, having an in-depth knowledge of business trends, and being able to astutely forecast future developments and innovations are assets that are becoming increasingly sought after by employers and clients alike.
Prior to the economic crash of 2008 many businesses were somewhat complacent when it came to their spending habits; where once they would readily hire a business consultant, accountant and financial adviser, they are now looking for savvy individuals with the ability to fulfil all three roles, and accountants are the ones stepping in to take advantage.
Accountancy’s reputation has been somewhat tarnished by being branded a boring profession, though that status is likely to change dramatically in the next few years. The accountants of the future will not be those wanting to hide away in a corner and work in solitary confinement, but those with verve and vigour, dynamism and drive. The time of the stuffy accountant has ended, and the reign of those pushing to make the profession sexy has begun.
Reaching the right people
With evolution comes change; the accountants of the future will need to be personable, proactive and technologically proficient, attributes not necessarily needed by those of years gone by. The accountancy landscape is altering; a role primarily favoured by introverts is becoming one that will soon be dominated by extroverts, and recruiters will be forced to travel down different routes to find the correct candidates.
Many students with ambitions of becoming accountants are now studying additional IT modules in university to make themselves a more attractive proposition once they graduate, while others are prioritising the need to become more skilled with regard to speaking to large audiences.
Recruiters will need to mirror accountancy’s progression if they are to ensure employers end up with members of staff that can match the expanding demands required to succeed in the role.
Though the sector is going through a period of unprecedented transformation, there is one fundamental that will never disappear; accountants must be able to provide clients with tangible value that will save or earn them money. However, the ways in which accountants are able to provide those financial benefits has become increasingly diverse. Excellent and highly targeted recruitment marketing can unearth the next generation of financial professionals.