Financial Accounting Skills Gap - Part 4

In Part 4 of our Financial Accounting Skills Gap articles we hear some interesting views from two of the leading figures in the Audit & Advisory sector within the Yorkshire region.

July 29, 2021
CFO News Article

 Over the past month, we have brought three different articles highlighting the growing demand for technically strong accountants (click here), perspectives from candidates who have specialised in these roles after their careers in practice (click here) and some perspectives from finance leaders in the private sector (click here).

This article will look at some of the views from some of the leading figures in the Audit & Advisory sector;

• In March 2021, the government (BEIS) published their consultation on reforms aimed at “Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance”. The reforms affect the auditors and companies – especially plcs and PIEs (public interest entities). This is potentially heading towards an implementation of UK SOx from 2023.

• UK SOx will make all directors accountable for reporting responsibilities with a lengthy list of new controls

• Extra responsibilities around ESG reporting

• Considerable levels of financial restructuring that are responding to observations from the pandemic and in anticipation of new regulations.

We spoke with two partners within large professional services firms to explain the potential changes for businesses if / when SOx is confirmed;

The FRC can currently only take enforcement action against members of professional bodies (usually the auditors), the consultation proposes that company directors will be in scope for action from the FRC

If the UK adopts their own version of US Sarbanes-Oxley rules over financial reporting and controls, there could be a major material impact on companies. US SOx significantly increased the workloads of directors and finance teams.

Although these regulations are not currently in existence, we are preparing for them and are advising our clients to do the same thing.

Shaun Mullins is an Audit & Advisory Partner at Mazars in Leeds

We are unsurprised to hear of the significant demand for technically strong accountants in private sector companies at the moment. Our business consulting team are working with an increased number of clients to upskill existing staff and redesign organisational structures to provide more solid and timely financial support.

Automation of processes continues to accelerate at pace. Smart companies are investing now to support their teams and ensure that they are future-proofed for the increasing regulations.

Covid-19 has put a major strain on a lot of businesses. Finance departments are not immune and the stretch has exposed weaknesses in controls and ability against a backdrop of more regulations and scrutiny.

Automation, upskilling teams and recruiting where there are skills gaps represent the blend of solutions we are seeing.


Emma Davies is Partner for Financial Accounting Advisory Services at Grant Thornton in Sheffield

There is huge demand on the services of our team that are the same factors that are accounting for the recruitment drive for strong technical accountants in the private sector.

M&A transactions have risen significantly with the expected future change to Entrepreneurs’ Relief. Businesses that are in “acquisitive” or “becoming a target” mode have increased expectations to ensure that their financial reporting and controls are robust.

The pandemic has led to some clients having back-to-back audits, where remote working has posed too much of a challenge in 2020. Our team have been called in to support more contentious issues and just to relieve the pressure on finance departments that are stretched.

There has been a clear catalyst to automation over the past year – objectives being to ensure that businesses can meet the future demands of change that they are likely to experience.

UK SOx and ESG are increasingly creating more workload. The expected reporting aspects around ESG will challenge finance teams in the future , who will need  a  different skillset. Planning for this and implementing processes to capture the right information  early will provide significant comfort to many businesses.

. Our firm and the finance teams of our clients  are heavily investing in skilled accountants to ensure that current workloads and increasing demands can be met, and to do this they need  to ensure they are attracting the best people, providing opportunities for development upskilling them. Employers in the private sector will not just need to review their teams and process, but also their employer value propositions and recruitment strategies to ensure they can meet the demands of the future.


Our last post will be published on Tuesday 3rd August and will provide a summary of our four articles and our opinion and advice to all employers on how to address the technical accounting skills gap



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