Financial Accounting Skills Gap - Part 3

Part 3 of our articles focuses on the thoughts of some of our regions best private sector finance leaders, to understand what's creating the increased demand for strong technical accountants within the Yorkshire region.

Jul 20, 2021
CFO News Article

Our last two posts have covered the growing demand for technically strong accountants (click here) and some perspectives from candidates who have specialised in these roles after their careers in practice.(click here) We have been speaking to our network to understand what is driving the increased demand from a private sector perspective.

·       A far more through and detailed statutory reporting and audit process.

·       Growing importance of ESG reporting in the annual financial statements.

·       Early-stage planning for the probable introduction of UK SOX from 2023.

·       Reduced availability of secondees from the audit firms to navigate busy periods.

 

Nigel Hebron is CFO at Natures Way Foods – an experienced finance leader with over 10 years as FD at Hays Travel, Vion Food Group and Intersnack Group GmbH

Statutory accounts take so much longer now than they did 10years’ ago. It is becoming increasingly harder to see what the benefit is -  “They are much more complex than they need to be, and for whose benefit?

We are under increasingly tight resource pressure, which just becomes an added cost. There is a huge technical skills gap at the moment, as well as specific niche skills.

I have just moved to my role and it is based in a new location for me (Chichester). It is really challenging to recruit – there is a poor local talent pool, but from what I hear that is the case across most of the UK. It is especially frustrating because I know that the opportunities will provide a really positive challenge to many candidates and give them a real boost for their long-term career aspirations.

 

Lindsey Hall is Deputy Group Financial Controller at MJ Gleeson plc, having trained with KPMG and some time in the financial controls team at Boots

Gleeson plc has always placed enormous value on the financial accounting function and the security, data and systems have allowed the business to build its ambition quickly and confidently.

The breadth of technical accounting has grown so much over recent years;

-       ESG(Environmental, Social and Governance) reporting is becoming more important and sits within the financial reporting responsibilities.

-       The Corporate Governance Code has changed and brought increased reporting requirements.

-       As a result, annual reports are growing in size each year.

-       Audit requirements increase year-on-year as the audit firms face increasing pressure, which gets passed down as additional work for finance teams.

-       This is before we even consider the potential impact of UK SOX in the next couple of years!

 

 During my time at Gleeson plc, the team responsible for financial reporting has grown from 2 to 5

UK businesses need more accountants to remain in financial accounting and meet these positive challenges

 

 David Wilson is Group Financial Controller at Keepmoat Homes – a former Senior Manager from PwC, with over 10 years’ experience in Group financial accounting and controlling roles.

 There is a considerably larger workload for our group finance function than there has been in the past. Some of this increase is down to the ongoing growth of the Keepmoat business. More is attributable to the increasing depth of scrutiny on financial reporting and new guidelines.

We plan to use a mix of interim and advisory resource in the short term and ultimately recruit a strong technical candidate to “own” our external financial reporting and support the business on the wider requirements of ESG and the preparation for UK Sox.  Not just a technical doer but someone who will be proactive in keeping the business ahead of the curve on upcoming requirements so we are well prepared with time to refine our reporting processes and outputs both for efficient compliance but also to ensure alignment with the Group’s strategy.

 

 Every plc and private company of a certain size has felt the weight of pressure of financial reporting increasing over the past few years. Some are in favour of the changes and see both the need and the justification, others do not. Every client we have spoken to expects this trend to increase and have some big plans to make to ensure that their finance function can meet the demand. Reading these comments make it easy to understand why our business has been instructed on so many financial accounting roles.

Before we complete our research and present our advice to employers, we will bring you the thoughts of some of the Partners of our national firms, based across the Yorkshire region.

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