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How to progress in accountancy in 2021

Accountants continue to play a key role during Covid-19. If you’re considering how to progress your career in 2021, take a moment to acknowledge the unique challenges and opportunities this backdrop presents. In a global survey undertaken by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), nine out of ten respondents said that the pandemic has altered working life, with many noting that things will look very different for accountancy in the future. Therefore, consider taking the following points on board.

Stay visible while working from home.

Seventy-eight per cent of finance professionals have adapted to working at home successfully during the pandemic. That’s according to a report from KPMG and the Financial Services Commission. For many, remote working is a new experience, so think about how you can stay visible to improve your career prospects. Don’t shy away from joining team meetings or scheduling one-on-one video calls with colleagues. Instead, work hard to fully participate in discussions, creating opportunities for you to listen and share your expertise.

Step up to tackle challenges.

Businesses have needed to move fast in the past year to keep up to date with new monetary incentives and policies. A survey from Accountancy Manager highlights the wide range of services clients have accessed recently, from furlough claims and loan applications, to emotional support during financial hardship. Fortunately, there is a silver lining, as this is your chance to shine – demonstrating how well you cope under pressure. Why not prove your leadership qualities by making positive suggestions to strengthen client relationships and adapt internal processes for the better?

Keep track of key industry changes.

In a survey of 1,000 UK finance professionals, undertaken last year, 62 per cent said there was a “significant skills gap” within the industry. CVs which show strong evidence of strategic thinking, financial forecasting, and the ability to use technological software are likely to be in high demand for the future. Covid-19 has accelerated change in many different sectors – not least accountancy. It is thought that one in three employers plan to redesign job roles in response to the continued impact of the pandemic. To further your career, it is important to have your finger on the pulse, stay up to date with the latest tech and make sure you continue to have the right skillset.

Develop your own roadmap.

Accountancy remains a highly varied profession. With a well-recognised qualification behind you, there is the chance to specialise in many different areas from auditing to tax, fund accounting or corporate finance – to name a few. In addition, career pathways are becoming increasingly diverse. In a report written last year, the ACCA (Association of Chartered Accountants) puts this down to the fact that organisational structures are now “more fluid” and don’t necessarily follow traditional hierarchies. If you’ve identified a dream role, don’t let your perceptions of a traditional career trajectory limit you.

It can be hard to think about career progression, and the possibility of changing roles during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, don’t let this hold you back. In a recent survey of 3,100 recruiters and HR professionals, 65 per cent said they were planning to hire in 2021. If you’re unsure of how to make your next career move, try seeking advice from a colleague, mentor, or recruitment agency to help you achieve this.