Page 1

NQ magazine January 2020

P20

THE VOICE OF ALL NQs Contact us

email: graham@pqmagazine.com twitter: @pqmagazine facebook: @pqmags call: 020 7216 6444

A FINTECH FUTURE How accountants can harness the power of new technology

ALL THE NEWS YOU NEED

P11

YOUR CAREER

and a whole lot more Pages 4 and 6

SAVING THE PLANET

18

THE ART OF EFFECTIVE JOB HUNTING NQ Magazine January 2020

YOUR CIMA CAREER

WE NEED CLIMATE CHANGE Hugh Martin ACCOUNTING AND WE NEED explains how you IT NOW, SAYS PROFESSOR can advance your RICHARD MURPHY career now you are P12

qualified

Page 18

SALARY CHECKER

Are you getting paid what you should be? We’ve got all the numbers Page 8

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MEET A CIMA-QUALIFIED ACCOUNTANT WHO’S WORKING FOR A BETTER WORLD P16


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COMMENT

NQ magazine EDITOR’S COMMENTS

Show me the money… With the help of Hays Accountancy & Finance we take a look at the salary and benefits an NQ can expect to get in their pay packet each month (see page 8). The average for those working in SMEs in 2020 we are told is £40,636, and this goes up to £42,917 if you work for a larger organisation. We also give you the chance to look five years ahead. The pay of someone working for a large company in London is a very healthy £76,000 – something to look forward to! In this issue we also discover why we need climate change accounting. Professor Richard Murphy recently starred at our one-day conference with LSBU entitled ‘Accountancy will save the planet’ – and he’s not a happy bunny. He rightly points out that there is no other issue more important in accounting. Read what he has to say on page 12. There’s a great piece on how you can use volunteering to work in areas that can really change people’s lives. The AfID could be the answer for you if you want to radically change yourself in 2020 (see page 16). If not then, take in Hugh Martin’s piece on how you can advance your career now you have finally become an NQ (page 11). Finally, we delve into Sage’s CFO 3.0 digital transformation beyond financial management. It explains that the role of the CFO has changed forever. The primary role of finance leaders is no longer in financial reporting. CFOs are now polymaths, driving strategy and making technology decisions that affect the whole organsiation Oh, and don’t forget to enter the PQ awards– we are looking for an NQ of the Year and it could be you. All we need is 250 words on why you or a colleague should win. The deadline for entries is Friday 10 January. Graham Hambly, NQ Editor (graham@pqmagazine.com)

NUMBER CRUNCHING

17%

The number of women who hold partner level roles in the larger accountancy firms P4

£4,300

The amount swindled by an accountant from his internet girlfriend P6

75%

The percentage of NQs who say they are satisfied with their job P8

£76,000

The average salary after five years qualified, working in London for a large organisation P10

£16 trillion

Value of world’s financial assets at risk from climate change P12

9/10

CFOs believe their financial role has expanded and shifted ‘significantly’ P22


NEWS

Rapid action needed now on diversity

GREEN CORNER ‘ACT NOW TO SAVE THE PLANET’

The accountancy profession needs to take rapid action to address the diversity gap at senior levels, says the Financial Reporting Council. The vast majority of partner level roles remain in the hands of the ‘pale and male’, and the FRC believes the profession is now lagging behind the rest of business when it comes to the diversity of senior management. There is concern, too, that just one in three UK audit and accountancy firms collect Sir Jon Thompson diversity data on their workforce. The FRC emphasised it was also ‘ironic’ that accountancy firms are advising large corporations on their diversity and inclusion strategies but are not doing enough to maximize their own pipeline of future talent and promote women, BAME and disabled employees to the top level of management. The latest stats from the FRC show women make up 46% of manager level roles at audit and accountancy firms, but just 17% of women rise to partner level roles. A similar trend can be seen at smaller firms with less than 200 employees, where 52% of manager level roles are held by women, but just 11% of women hold partner level roles. The FRC said it was encouraging that the industry has a strong pipeline of future talent with women making up 37% of professional body membership, up from 35% in 2014. The FRC’s CEO, Sir Jon Thompson, stressed: “The business case for improved diversity has been made and now it’s time for the audit and accountancy profession to take further positive action.”

Accountants can help to save the planet but they can’t do it on their own, says Professor Richard Murphy (see page 12). A star turn at the recent ‘Accountants will save the planet’ conference, Murphy said we need consistent accountancy rules that force companies around the world to become net zero carbon compliant. That way, he explained, we can force companies to save the planet, too. For Murphy, accountants will then become the biggest agents of change to help transform the world economy. But we have to change the rules of accountancy. He pointed out that right now there isn’t a single proposal to bring climate change onto the balance sheet of any company. “That is shocking, we have to recognise we are living in a climate crisis,” said Murphy. Currently, what we have is soft voluntary standards. Only by introducing compulsory standards and law changes will we engender real change, he suggested.

Going concern revised

● Check out more wise words from Murphy in our video interview – see https://vimeo.com/377541943

Auditors will need to “more robustly challenge management’s assessment of going concern”, says a revised going concern standard. That means thoroughly testing the adequacy of the supporting evidence, evaluating the risk of management bias, and making greater use of the viability statement. The Financial Reporting Council also wanted to see improved transparency with a new reporting requirement for the auditor of public interest entities to provide a clear, positive conclusion on whether management’s assessment is appropriate, and to set out the work they have done in this respect. Finally, the FRC says there should be a stand back requirement to consider all the evidence obtained, whether corroborative or contradictory, when the auditor draws their conclusions on going concern. FRC’s former CEO Stephen Haddrill, explained: “Our own enforcement work has demonstrated a need to strengthen existing Going Concern standards.”

The voice of reason

Cyber scammers have managed to part a top UK energy executive to part with £200,000 of his company’s money. They did it using artificial intelligence that mimicked his boss’s voice! The criminals managed to trick the unnamed executive into transferring money to a Hungarian bank, following a phone call that appeared to come from his boss at the German parent company. This is the first reported case of the use deep fake technology. The scam only broke down when the executive received a third call from the fake boss, while he was on the phone to the real one! Head of strategy at Europol’s cybercrime HQ, Philipp Amann, said that similar frauds may have happened but gone undetected. 4

JOB OF THE MONTH Studio 104 is looking for a commercial accountant to join its London team. You will be working from its Waterloo studio and must live within commutable distance. The salary range is £35,000 to £38,000 depending on experience. You also get 25 days holiday plus bank holidays. The candidate needs a minimum of 3-5 years’ experience in a commercial or finance role. You should be a PQ, studying towards a professional finance qualification (ACA, ACCA or CIMA), and it will help to have a ‘cando’ attitude. Some 50% of your time will be on finance operations and 50% on commercial activities. To apply submit your CV and covering letter to Sheetal Shah at sheetal@ studio-104.com. NQ Magazine January 2020


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NEWS

Is the time right for a new audit qualification? Anyone who signs off on the financial health of a UK company should have to sit a new professional audit qualification, after they have passed their accountancy qualification. That is what Sir Donald Brydon said in the latest independent report on improving the quality and effectiveness of audit. Sir Donald said it was a “startling discovery to me that there was not an audit profession as a standalone entity.” He went on to explain that the qualities you need to be an auditor are quite different to those you need to be an accountant! So, who should have this audit qualification? Well, Sir Donald said anyone with responsibility for looking into a company’s accounts and then signing them off as safe would be included. This includes cyber-security professionals and those assessing the company’s environmental footprint. He believes that a new regulator should train and approve this new class of auditors. In a BBC Radio 4 Today interview he stressed he didn’t want any changes to increase the cost of audit. He also stressed that current auditors have not lost their moral compass…that’s good to hear!

One lying accountant

A chartered accountant who lied to his internet girlfriend, telling her that he was dying of stomach cancer so he could swindle her out of £4,300, has been convicted of fraud. Badal Arun Hindocha told Tina Mistry he needed money because he had missed work to attend hospital appointments, messaging her: “If I don’t solve this problem, I’m dead.” After he received the money he tried to break contact with Mistry, but was caught when he went back onto the same internet dating website where they first met! The defendant admitted fraud at Croydon Crown Court and was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months. Hindocha was also ordered to pay Mistry £6,000 in compensation. Defence lawyer Imran Khan said that the money had been used to install a downstairs toilet at his disabled parents’ home.

New digital bank targeted Bo, a new digital bank set up by the Royal Bank of Scotland, became an instant target for fraudsters, according to reports in The Times. Featuring a bright yellow Visa card and a mobile app, some 30% of applications received by Bo in its first two weeks were fraudulent. The figure underscores the scale of the challenge faced by banks in the digital age as they try to counter money laundering and cybercrime. Bo CEO Mark Bailie revealed that criminals who wanted accounts for money laundering had been blocked. He said it was “interesting how keen the criminals are to get hold of bank accounts…” and that it happens with all big banks. The new bank has entirely separate technology systems to the rest of RBS, and is run from London. 6

Become our NQ of the Year

We have given you a little bit more time to get your nominations in for the PQ magazine awards 2020. You now have until Friday 10 January to get those entries to us – that’s your new ‘D-Day’! Isn’t it time your CV got something that helped you stand out from the crowd? Or maybe there’s someone at your office who needs some real recognition as our NQ of the Year. The current ‘champion’ is Grant Thornton’s CIPFA-qualified Sophie Medwell (pictured). Our independent judges will look at every entry before deciding on the shortlist. Remember, all we need is 250 words for now. Go to www.pqmagazine.com to download the nomination form.

Code of ethics refresh CIMA has ‘refreshed’ its Code of Ethics to help “finance professional deals with the ethics and independence challenges in the modern digital world”. Updates includes new material emphasising the importance of capturing and understanding relevant facts and circumstances when exercising professional judgement. There are also revised provisions on offering and accepting inducements, including gifts, hospitality and entertainment. CIMA’s Andrew Harding explained management accountants have a responsibility to act ethically, foster ethical management processes, and have a duty to act in the public interest. He stressed the revised code is now more transparent about when CIMA will take action to enforce breaches. The revised code comes into force on 1 January 2020. For more information about the updated CIMA Code of Ethics and access resources, go to https://www.cimaglobal.com/Professional/Ethics NQ Magazine January 2020


SALARY SURVEY

What are you worth? Karen Young, Director of Hays Accountancy & Finance, comments on the findings of the company’s latest salary survey for NQs

8

O

ur findings reveal high job and salary satisfaction levels for newly qualified accountants (NQs), and many are positive about the outlook on their careers in the year ahead. However, there are some clear areas for employers to focus on in order to mitigate uncertainty among employees caused by an everchanging economic landscape. Work-life balance is of great importance to NQs. There has been a significant uptake in the number of employees making use of flexible working options and encouragingly two thirds (66%) now rate their work-life balance positively. If effectively promoted in job adverts and communications to the current workforce, this may prove to be a valuable tool for attraction and retention for employers in what is set to be once again a competitive hiring landscape over the next 12 months. NQs are more positive about their career prospects this year but over a third (36%) still say they are uncertain. Developing career plans with NQs and promoting career progression opportunities ought to be a key focus for employers in the year ahead to mitigate uncertainty among NQs and make their organisation appealing to finance career movers. While the average salary increase over the last year for NQs was below the UK average, salaries for some roles increased over 2% and a high proportion in this cohort say they are satisfied with their pay. Additionally, more finance employers said they raised salaries over the past 12 months than those across the UK did overall, and over three quarters (78%) said salaries are likely to increase again this year. According to our survey, some skills gaps have eased slightly over the last 12 months and slightly more employers feel that they have the talent required to achieve their business objectives. However competition still lingers, so leveraging employer brand to attract new candidates and focusing on building a pipeline of future talent to ensure you build the skills your organisation needs should be high on the agenda for employers in the near future. And remember, work-life balance and a visible career path are key for NQ talent when they take a decision to stay or leave. NQ Magazine January 2020


SALARY SURVEY KEY FINDINGS FROM EMPLOYEES:

Newly Qualified Accountancy

Salary and benefits ● Over the past 12 months, 70% of NQs received a pay rise and for more than a quarter (29%) this was of over 5%. 71% expect their salaries to increase again over the next 12 months. ● Over three quarters (76%) are satisfied with their salaries, which is higher than the 61% UK average. ● For those still dissatisfied with their salaries, the reasons cited for this were that it doesn’t reflect experience/expertise and it doesn’t reflect individual performance (both 60%). ● Transparency around salaries and how pay levels are set is important for three quarters (75%) of NQs, with 43% saying it is very important. ● When it comes to benefits, the most important to NQs when considering a new role is over 28 days paid annual leave (60%), followed by pension provision above the legal minimum (54%) and health insurance or private medical cover (47%).

Career sentiment ● Three quarters (75%) say they are satisfied with their jobs, which is in line with the UK average of 74%. ● 59% feel positive about their career prospects this year, higher than the 54% who felt positive last year. Despite this, over a third (36%) say they feel uncertain. ● NQs are slightly more positive about their progression as 60% agree that there is scope for career progression within their organisation compared to 57% who said this last year.

Employee mobility ● Just over a third (35%) of NQs say they moved jobs in the last 12 months, which is lower than the 52% who in last year’s survey said they anticipated to move within this time. 41% said they considered leaving their organisation or changing roles. ● Of those who left their jobs, the top reason was that the role wasn’t challenging enough (16%), followed by a poor work-life balance (13%). ● The first half of the year ahead may see higher employee mobility as 34% of NQs say they anticipate moving jobs in the next six months. A further 18% say they anticipate moving in the latter half of the year. ● For 22% of NQs, the main reason for wanting to leave their current role is lack of future opportunities. Interestingly this was ahead of salary and/or benefits package (20%) and the work itself (14%).

NQ Magazine January 2020

Newly Qualified SME

Large organisation

2019

2020

2019

2020

East Midlands

£36,000

£37,000

£40,000

£40,000

East of England

£45,000

£45,000

£45,000

£48,000

London

£50,000

£50,000

£50,000

£50,000

North East England

£38,000

£38,000

£40,000

£40,000

North West England

-

-

£42,000

£42,000

Northern Ireland

£33,500

£34,000

£33,500

£35,000

Scotland

£37,000

£37,000

£40,000

£40,000

South East England

£48,000

£50,000

£49,000

£55,000

South West

£42,000

£43,000

£43,000

£45,000

Wales

£35,000

£35,000

£38,000

£38,000

West Midlands

£40,000

£40,000

£42,000

£42,000

Yorkshire and the Humber

£38,000

£38,000

£40,000

£40,000

Average

£40,227

£40,636

£41,875

£42,917

2019-2020 % increase

1%

2.5%

Recently Qualified (up to 2 years) SME

Large organisation

2019

2020

2019

2020

East Midlands

£42,000

£44,000

£45,000

£45,000

East of England

-

-

£47,000

£48,000

London

£50,000

£52,500

£56,000

£56,000

North East England

£40,000

£40,000

£45,000

£45,000

North West England

£45,000

£45,000

£47,000

£47,000

Northern Ireland

£37,000

£38,000

£38,500

£40,000

Scotland

£40,000

£42,000

£42,000

£43,000

South East England

£50,000

£53,000

£56,000

£60,000

South West

£45,000

£46,000

£45,000

£48,000

Wales

£40,000

£40,000

£43,000

£43,000

West Midlands

£42,000

£43,000

£45,000

£45,000

Yorkshire and the Humber

£40,000

£40,000

£45,000

£45,000

Average

£42,818

£43,955

£46,208

£47,083

2019-2020 % increase

2.7%

1.9%

9


SALARY SURVEY Work-life balance ● NQs report a positive work-life balance, as two thirds (66%) rate their work-life balance as either good or very good. This is higher than the UK average of 57% and last year’s figure of 62%. ● 76% of NQs say they use flexible working options in their current role, which is an uptake from last year where 67% said they use flexible working options in the year prior. ● Aside from salary, work-life balance is the most important factor for 38% when considering a new role. KEY FINDINGS FROM FINANCE EMPLOYERS:

Salaries & business activity ● Salaries rose 1.6% for NQs over the last 12 months, which is just below the 1.8% that salaries increased across all roles in the UK. ● 81% of finance employers said they raised salaries over the past 12 months, higher than the UK average (76%). 78% also said their employees’ salaries are likely to increase over the next 12 months. ● 96% of accountancy and finance employers expect their organisation’s activity level to increase or stay the same in the year ahead, higher than last year’s 94%.

2-4 Years’ PQE SME

Large organisation

2019

2020

2019

2020

East Midlands

£45,000

£45,000

£50,000

£50,000

East of England

£50,000

£50,000

£55,000

£55,000

London

£55,000

£60,000

£65,000

£65,000

North East England

£47,000

£47,000

£50,000

£50,000

North West England

£47,000

£50,000

£60,000

£65,000

Northern Ireland

£41,000

£44,000

£44,000

£45,000

Scotland

£45,000

£46,000

£48,000

£48,000

South East England

£55,000

£55,000

£65,000

£66,000

South West

£48,000

£50,000

£55,000

£55,000

Wales

£44,000

£45,000

£48,000

£48,000

West Midlands

£45,000

£47,000

£50,000

£55,000

Yorkshire and the Humber

£45,000

£45,000

£50,000

£50,000

Average

£47,250

£48,667

£53,333

£54,333

2019-2020 % increase

3%

1.9%

5+ Years’ PQE

Hiring and skills

SME

● 40% of accountancy and finance employers plan on recruiting permanent staff this year and 20% plan to recruit temporary, contract or interim staff. ● Skills shortages have eased over the last year, as only two thirds (63%) say they have experienced some form of shortages over the past 12 months, compared to 89% who said they had last year. ● Furthermore over three quarters (77%) now say their organisation has the talent needed to achieve current objectives, up from 72% who said they did last year. ● For the shortages that remain, half (50%) said they are caused by competition for roles and job opportunities, followed by fewer people entering the job market in the industry (28%).

Large organisation

2019

2020

2019

2020

East Midlands

£62,000

£65,000

£70,000

£70,000

East of England

£68,000

£68,000

£70,000

£70,000

London

£70,000

£70,000

£76,000

£76,000

North East England

£60,000

£60,000

£65,000

£65,000

North West England

£70,000

£75,000

£70,000

£75,000

Northern Ireland

£50,000

£50,000

£52,000

£55,000

Scotland

£57,000

£58,000

£64,000

£64,000

South East England

£68,000

£68,000

£76,000

£76,000

South West

£60,000

£60,000

£78,000

£80,000

Wales

£55,000

£55,000

£65,000

£65,000

West Midlands

£62,000

£64,000

£70,000

£70,000

Yorkshire and the Humber

£60,000

£60,000

£67,000

£67,000

Average

£61,833

£62,750

£68,583

£69,417

2019-2020 % increase

1.5%

1.2%

About the research The salary data has been compiled using information gathered during 2019 from Hays offices across the UK. It is based on job listings, job offers and candidate registrations. The recruiting trends and benefits data is based on a survey conducted in June and July 2019. The survey was completed by over 31,500 employees and employers from organisations of all sizes and sectors. The above findings are based on responses from 1,875 accountancy and finance employers and 594 qualified accountants. 10

NQ Magazine January 2020


A CIMA CAREER

‘I’m a CIMA qualified – now what?’ Hugh Martin explains how you can advance your career now you’ve finally become an NQ accountant

Y

ou have finally made it through… all the late nights, double expressos and piles of notes are behind you. It all seems like such a relief, but now that you are qualified, what do you do next? In many ways, becoming fully qualified can become a bit of anti-climax when you go to the office the next day and carry out the same duties you did when you were part qualified. Nobody fully prepares you for life after the exams, so here are some of my recommendations on what to do next. The first course of action is knowing your worth and asking for a pay rise. The market for qualified CIMA professionals is booming and you need to be paid what you are worth in this current market. Take some notes of what newly qualified accounting jobs are offering in your local area so you have an idea of what the market rate is and then negotiate from there. Some companies might take time to adjust your salary (up to a year can be normal) and that is OK, but don’t let time drag on, if you are not getting the salary you deserve, it might be time to consider new opportunities. A job isn’t always about the salary. One major aspect of being fully qualified is that you have been verified as a competent finance professional by a reputable body. If you are still doing the same duties you were doing as a part-

NQ Magazine January 2020

CIMA qualified accountants outside of the UK and it is a fantastic opportunity to see more of the world and experience a different culture to the one you are used to. Why not give it a go? Finally, CPD is something that is often talked about in a negative light in many offices I’ve worked in. It doesn’t have to be something to dread, CIMA and other accounting bodies offer many interesting courses that will increase your skills in the workplace whilst fulfilling your CPD requirements. I’ve found that just because the CIMA exams are over, that doesn’t give you an excuse to put the feet up. It’s a fast-growing, but competitive market out there and you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd if you NQ want to rise to the top. ● Hugh Martin is MD of

qualified accountant six months to a year later, you need to question if you are growing in your career or staying stagnant. There’s nothing wrong with staying in a place you are comfortable in, but if you want to move up the ranks it might be time to have a discussion with your manager about progression. Being CIMA qualified opens many doors outside of the UK. What isn’t often talked about when you become fully qualified, is the opportunity to work abroad. There are many countries that actively hire

Belfast-based consultancy Lankill Group. Hugh was a world comendee for the Operational case study and scored the highest result in Ireland, finishing CIMA in the shortest window possible by passing four exams in four months with grades above 70% (including the case study). He scored 99% in one CIMA exam and was 24 when he became fully qualified.

11


THE ENVIRONMENT

We need clim account

Richard Murphy argues that sustainable cost accounting is vital if we are to tackle the global climate emergency

I

t is very welcome that Mark Carney has, as director of the Bank of England, acknowledged that $20 trillion (£16 trillion) of the world’s financial assets might be at risk from climate change. It is also good that he has said “disclosure by companies of the risks posed by climate change to their business was key to a smooth transition to a zerocarbon world as it enabled investors to back winners”. Despite this, however, the world’s accounting standards setters have not, as yet, tackled this issue. That task has instead fallen to the Mark Carney-led Bank of International Settlements-promoted Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), who have suggested “voluntary, consistent climate-related financial disclosures that would be useful to investors, lenders, and insurance underwriters in understanding material risks”. I direct the Corporate Accountability 12

Network (CAN), which thinks that this approach inadequate. That’s because this issue is too important to be considered outside the framework for financial accounting, which the TCFD necessarily does; too significant to be voluntary; and of interest to a much wider range of stakeholders than the TCFD approach addresses. Why the climate change reporting needs of civil society, regulators and governments are, for example, ignored by the TCFD, is incomprehensible to us. As a result the Corporate Accountability Network thinks that a different approach is required.

Sustainable cost accounting The Corporate Accountability Network suggests that we need a mandatory approach to climate change accounting. It calls this approach sustainable cost accounting (SCA). To achieve this goal sustainable cost accounting would have to be an accounting standard

that all large companies would, ideally, have to comply with, but it could be introduced by countries in isolation if they so wished. The essence of sustainable cost accounting is simple. It would require that every large business prepare a plan to show how it will manage the consequences of climate change. This plan would have to state how it might become net carbon-neutral by a specified date, both within its own business and within its supply chain. That plan would have to be specific as to what the business must do to achieve this goal, or alternatively state that this is not yet known. A precautionary principle would apply: in other words, the plan could only rely on those technologies now known to exist and that have been proven to work. In addition, the plan would have to show where the impact of the changes would arise geographically: it would be unacceptable to solve the NQ Magazine January 2020


THE ENVIRONMENT

mate change ting now

problem in some countries and not others, or to export carbon risk to developing countries. That plan would then have to be costed. The requirement of sustainable cost accounting would then be that the full cost of the change to being net-zero carbon emitter should be provided for in the accounts of the companies to which sustainable cost accounting would apply at the time that it was adopted, which could be by 2022 if sufficient urgency was applied to this task. If this provision resulted in a company being shown to be insolvent then the company would have then have to show how their solvency might be restored. This could, for example, be by raising new money for investment in the company, but they would have to convince their auditors that this was possible. We stress: we think that all the sustainable cost accounting data would require financial audit since the NQ Magazine January 2020

intention is to include it in financial statements. And, if a company could not show how it could fund the cost of the transition, or it could not estimate the cost of completing that process, or it concluded that it simply could not make the transition, then we suggested that it would have to be declared ‘carbon insolvent’. This would not mean that it was financially bankrupt. But it would make clear that the company was not going to survive into the era that we are going to have to live in. As a result an orderly winding up of its affairs would be required, and carbon insolvency administrators would have to be appointed to achieve that goal.

Benefits of sustainable cost accounting Sustainable cost accounting will achieve four goals. It will bring the biggest issue facing companies today into financial reporting. As such it

will make clear which businesses can and cannot survive into an era of sustainability. It will as a result redirect capital to those best able to use it. And by providing data geographically it will enable all the stakeholders of a business to plan their future relationships with the companies with which they engage. Sustainable cost accounting is the accounting for the climate crisis that we now need. There is no other issue more NQ important in accounting. â—? Richard Murphy FCA.

He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy, University of London; Visiting Professor, Anglia Ruskin University Global Sustainability Institute; Director, Corporate Accountability Network; CoFounder, The Green New Deal

13


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NQ Magazine January 2020


FURTHER QUALIFICATIONS

R

obert Gordon University’s (RGU) MSc Accounting & Finance Professional Top Up course is an exciting opportunity to enhance your professional accounting qualification with a Master’s degree from a globally recognised AACSB accredited Business School. This course is ideal for individuals who hold a professional accounting qualification from a recognised accounting body such as ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW, ICAS or other member of the GAA. A UK Master’s degree is highly regarded by employers and when accompanied by a professional qualification and relevant work experience, it can provide a vital competitive edge in the crowded jobs market. Your Master’s degree will distinguish you from other candidates and demonstrate your drive, determination and that you have the ability to commit to a higher level of study. The MSc Accounting & Finance Professional Top Up course at RGU will enhance your employability by improving your organisational and time management skills. In addition, you can also expect

NQ Magazine January 2020

to further develop your transferable skills in areas such as communication, project management, data analysis, critical thinking and problem solving. Through your professional accounting qualification, you have already demonstrated that you have the technical accounting and business knowledge required for a successful career, and this online Master’s programme focuses on developing your research and analytical skills through one Capstone module. The Capstone module is worth 60 credits (SCQF level 11) and encompasses training on research and analysis methods. You will chose an area of Accounting or Finance to research – an area that interests you – and a supervisor will be allocated to support you through this exciting research journey. You have to the flexibility to choose to complete either a traditional dissertation or a business consultancy project for your Capstone module. It is up to you which style of project and output is more relevant for you, your academic journey and your career. This course is fully online and you’re encouraged to engage with your supervisor and the course team as often as you need to using forums on the virtual learning environment, CampusMoodle and by email or Skype where this is available. This flexible mode of study works effectively with your current role as part of an accounting team, allowing you to balance work, study and family life. The online resources are designed to support you at all stages in your research journey. The initial stage of deciding on a topic can seem quite daunting, but you will be presented with a stepby-step toolkit to help you narrow down your areas of interest to the one you will research during the course of your studies. There are a variety of online resources designed to allow you to consider research design; how to construct a literature review and research questions; sampling techniques and qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Your supervisor will be able to support and guide you through all these steps and assist with academic and formal writing style. In just under a year, the MSc Accounting and Finance Professional Top Up programme will enable you to acquire and develop academic and communication skills. These skills are vital when you need to demonstrate to current and potential employers that you are able to investigate current issues and communicate your findings in a professional manner. This MSc will instantly give you a competitive advantage in your accounting career. The MSc Accounting and Finance Professional Top Up course is a fantastic opportunity to enhance your professional qualification. We hope you are ready to get started on this next phase. ● Apply now and start in January 2020

– for details go to www.rgu.ac.uk/ accounting-top-up

NQ 15


THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR

Doing the right thing CIMA-qualified Adrian Storey is now Finance Program Manager at The Freedom Fund. Here he explains how he got there

B

etween 2011 and 2014, Adrian undertook annual volunteering assignments with AfID. What started as a way of making holidays more meaningful turned into a desire to transition into the international development sector altogether. After over a decade in the corporate sector, Adrian made the jump – read on to find out how he did it.

Why did you choose to volunteer? Was it part of a planned career change? Initially, I was looking for a different way to use my annual leave that would provide more immersive overseas experiences. In 2011, I read an article about AfID in CIMA’s FM Magazine that sparked my interest; I signed up for my first volunteer assignment and spent three weeks in Uganda. It was different to anything I had done before and I would never have imagined how enjoyable I found the whole trip. I was hooked. At that time, I was not thinking of a career change and I planned that an annual volunteering trip would be my main holiday each year. However, over the next four or five years I became attracted to the idea of a permanent role in the ID sector and started planning how to make it happen.

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Why did you choose to work in the International Development sector? Volunteering was a great start, but I started to feel frustrated that my involvement was limited to a few weeks a year while I carried on working in an environment that was almost exclusively profit-focused. In 2016, I was offered voluntary redundancy from my corporate job and didn’t think twice about taking this perfect opportunity to move across into the International Development sector. I haven’t regretted that decision once.

Do you feel your voluntary experience with AfID helped you gain your roles at ActionAid and The Freedom Fund, as well as prepare you for life in the sector? If so, how? Definitely. I remember the AfID workshop addressed the common fear that corporate sector experience would not be transferable to the NGO sector. The basic finance skills required in both sectors are the same – using spreadsheets, completing reconciliations, etc. –

NQ Magazine January 2020


THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR

but the intentions can be very different. One example is the approach to take when reviewing project accounts. In the corporate sector it is generally desired to have an underspend vs. budget, but for an INGO project a significant underspend is bad news because the objective is to fully use all donated funds. So, volunteering provided me with intermediate experiences to prepare me for the ways of working in an INGO finance role. Volunteering also demonstrates to prospective employers that I had the interest, passion and desire to work in the sector.

Where are you working now? Can you tell us a little about your current role and your path to getting to this role? My current role is as Program Finance Manager for The Freedom Fund, a relatively small INGO working to eradicate modern slavery. My role is principally to provide finance support to the Programs Teams. The Finance team is small, just four people, so there is a lot of responsibility and involvement in many other parts of the whole operation. This is the role I wanted when I first decided on a permanent role in the INGO sector as it sits on the interface between traditional finance roles and operations, which is the most interesting and rewarding position for me. However, I knew that I would be a stretch to get such a role as my first position after moving from the corporate sector, so I first joined ActionAid in internal audit as this was knowledge/ experience that is directly transferable between the sectors. It is also a great role in which to learn more about how INGOs operate. I stayed with ActionAid for two years, by which time I had learned enough about INGO finance and was able to successfully apply for my ideal role.

NQ Magazine January 2020

What are the main differences between a finance role in the corporate and charity sectors? At a fundamental level, the difference between finance processes comes from the basic objectives of the sectors; corporate organisations aim to make money for the shareholders whereas charity organisations aim to spend money that has been donated to them. Most finance roles in the corporate sector aim to protect value; in the charity sector finance is working to ensure that donated funds are being used completely and effectively.

What would be your advice to other accountants considering a similar career change or looking to break into the sector? It should be a given that anyone applying for a role has the basic qualifications and finance skills mentioned in the role description. However, to get ahead and secure your ideal position it is essential to demonstrate experience that is important to the recruiter. In my case it was internal audit but there are others (e.g. project accounting, financial modelling). Equally, showing an interest and passion for charity/ NGO work is important because this helps answer the standard question, “why do you want to work in the charity sector (or for this organisation)?� It is typical, but not always true, that salaries are lower in the charity sector than the corporate sector for similar roles so having a valid, understandable reason for accepting less money is essential. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain sector experience, learn appropriate skills and, importantly, test out if this is really something that inspires and NQ drives you.

â—? For more information on Accounting for International Development visit www.afid.org.uk or contact them at info@afid.org.uk / 020 8741 7000

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YOUR CAREER

Supercharge your job search Experts from GAAPweb explain how you can make social media work for you in your job search

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NQ Magazine January 2020


YOUR CAREER

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s a job-seeking newly qualified accountant it’s likely you already understand that social media can be both your friend and your enemy when it comes to securing a new role. From being headhunted on LinkedIn to finding out more about the company culture at your ideal employer, social media can enhance your job search and lead directly to employment. But take a moment to search your name on Google. What do you see in the search results? Your Facebook profile? A questionable photograph? An inappropriate Tweet? Whatever you see is also visible to recruiters and hiring managers, so if there’s anything offensive or divisive associated with your digital footprint, it might be time to clean up your online profiles. In this article, leading Finance and Accountancy job board GAAPweb provides some handy tips on how to manage your online profiles and make social media work for you in your job hunt.

Create a strong LinkedIn profile A well-crafted LinkedIn profile is a valuable asset that allows employers to find out a bit more about you after viewing your initial application. Essentially, your LinkedIn profile should act as an ever-evolving extension to your CV, where you can provide further insights into your career and education to date. To get the most out of your LinkedIn profile you should: ● Write a succinct, impactful headline such as: “Newly qualified ACCA accountant with four years of experience in practice, looking for a first move into industry.” ● Follow this with a more detailed summary that draws attention to your qualifications, skills and experience, as well as the type of jobs you’re looking for. ● Follow the pages of companies and accountancy practices that you want to work for, as well as relevant professional bodies and publications, to stay up-to-date with the latest news and vacancies. ● Invite colleagues, friends, classmates, recruiters and influential individuals in finance and accountancy to connect with you, thereby developing your professional network. ● Join groups for NQ accountants to get involved with professional discussions and find out about networking events. The GAAPweb group on LinkedIn is a great starting point. ● Write updates, share articles and comment on posts to become a trusted voice in the finance and accountancy community.

NQ Magazine January 2020

Give your personal profiles a good clean It’s a fact that your personal social media profiles are being viewed by potential employers and that what they see directly impacts your chances of a successful job application. So, before you start searching and applying for jobs, you should consider the content that you’re sharing and who you’re sharing it with. What kind of conclusions could an employer draw about your character from looking at the content you create and share? Make sure your profiles are set to private or remove anything that may paint you in a light that could damage your chances of landing an interview. Remember to check not just your own posts, but things that have been shared with you publicly and photos of you that others have published.

Create a personal brand Your online profiles should present an organised and coherent personal brand that you can use to sell yourself to an employer as their ideal next NQ accountant hire. In order to maintain consistency across your social profiles, use the same professional username and email address for all accounts – ideally using your own full name where possible – and a current photograph with your face clearly visible. Consider also including links between each of your accounts, for example putting the URL for your LinkedIn profile into your Twitter bio.

Interact with potential employers While social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are not intended primarily for jobseekers, you can still use these personal accounts for discovering opportunities and finding out more about what it’s like to work for your favoured employers. In addition to connecting with potential employers on LinkedIn, follow and ‘like’ their accounts on Twitter, Facebook and wherever else they have a presence. These accounts are a goldmine of information for when you get invited to interview, providing you with fantastic insights into company culture and NQ updates on their latest products and projects. ● Thanks to GAAPweb for this article. GAAPweb is a leading specialist job site for Finance and Accountancy professionals, including those who have recently qualified through any of the professional bodies. We display the latest roles with FTSE 100 businesses, SMEs, global PLCs accountancy practices, public sector organisations and more. Further careers advice and the latest NQ Accountant jobs can be found on GAAPweb.com.

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VIEWPOINT

Fintech paves the way Sam O’Connor explains how small business and fintech will boost the accountancy industry Entrepreneurship is the biggest demographic shift in the UK workforce for a generation, as more people are choosing the flexibility of being their own boss. There’s no doubt that the growth in small businesses will create opportunities for accountants to work with more sole traders and small limited company clients, particularly as the Making Tax Digital agenda unfolds and the new IR35 regime kicks in for contractors. There are currently 5.7m small businesses in the UK, five million of which are managed by the business owner. Whether operating as a sole trader or via an owner managed limited company, the tax consequences and accounting rules must be met and while many businesses use accountants already, there are many who do not. Our own data suggests that there is a £1bn revenue opportunity for accountants that’s not currently being harnessed, with more than one million small non-employing businesses in the UK that are interested in accounting services but aren’t yet using them. An added boost to this is the steady evolution of financial technology (fintech), which allows accountants to work more profitably with these smaller clients, unlocking bigger revenue streams and increasing profitably by removing manual work. 20

What are the challenges small businesses face? Self-employed people tend to have simple requirements. However, there are some areas that tend to take up a lot of time for accountants when managing these clients, including: ● onboarding them. ● setting them up with a business bank account. ● requesting transaction data and receipts or invoices. ● asking questions about the context of transactions. ● manual data entry to stay on top of bookkeeping. A recent survey with Coconut customers revealed that sharing records with accountants is a big challenge for these businesses. And we know that accountants feel the pain too, gathering accounting information from clients before they can even start doing the real work for them. What’s more, 51% of these small businesses are still using their personal current account for their business. This creates extra manual work filtering through bank statements, but also meaning their personal lives are up for potential scrutiny by HMRC, such enquiries are stressful and can be quite invasive for the client. There has been a proliferation of tools that are designed to help remove some of this manual work, like receipt apps, invoicing platforms and cloud accounting packages. But, for the smallest clients these solutions present a fragmented and unnecessarily complicated NQ Magazine January 2020


VIEWPOINT solution, putting them off from using them. There’s no doubt, small businesses have similar amounts of accounting and tax admin as larger businesses, but with far fewer resources to depend on.

Technology’s role A lot of work is created by putting off the bookkeeping until it absolutely has to be done. In a recent Coconut survey, a fifth of sole traders and small business owner respondents said they felt doing their bookkeeping would distract them from their day-to-day business. Given that these businesses are small and relatively simple to care for from an accountancy perspective, technology products are going to play an increasingly large role in letting accountants service them more profitably and make the most of this opportunity. This is why we created Coconut, a simple and highly-automated bookkeeping tool for the self-employed economy. Our aim is to remove as much manual bookkeeping as possible, for both the business owner and their accountant. We believe that by freeing up accountants to focus on the services that their clients value the most, we can make it easier and more profitable for accountants to manage their smallest clients. With invoicing, transaction coding, receipt capture and VAT management all in one, all bookkeeping is done within a few seconds of any transaction. There’s also no need to spend time reconciling transactions between various different systems, or paying for them either. Access to the banking transactions in the Coconut Accountant Portal is free. And it’s easy to export and import the transaction information into any accounts prep and tax return software.

Ecosystem of efficiency Accountants provide a very valuable service and the core of this is the advice and reassurance given to clients. But as we move towards MTD and IR35 off payroll regulations for the private sector, and with more and more fragmented propositions, either practices will use technology to their advantage, to provide a seamless, effortless offering to clients, or be caught out with lower profitability through greater manual work. As more people choose entrepreneurship over employment, technology will play a critical role in making sure they unlock the value that accountants bring to a business while enabling accountants to service more clients, more efficiently, and in NQ turn increase their own profits. ● Sam O’Connor, Co-Founder and

CEO, Coconut. Visit getcoconut.com/ accountants for more information NQ Magazine January 2020

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ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

Be wise, get Sage Sage’s Chris Downing answers some frequently asked questions about Sage’s VAT software WHAT IS SAGE VAT CENTRE?

Sage VAT Centre is an MTD-compliant digital VAT management centre for accountants. It provides a simple, one-stop-shop for client VAT information under MTD – whatever software accounting clients are using.

WHEN AND HOW IS THE SOFTWARE AVAILABLE? The software is available now for free via Sage Accountant Partner Edition, allowing accountants to view the information held by HMRC on all of their clients in one place regardless of the accounting software their clients use. By using VAT Centre customers can view their VAT submission status for free.

WHAT ARE THE KEY BENEFITS OF VAT CENTRE SOFTWARE? Key benefits of this software is that it increases efficiency and productivity in the workplace by providing visibility across clients on all non-Sage software, therefore accountants only need to run a single instance to manage their entire MTD client portfolio. Sage VAT Centre software promotes efficiency by removing the need to log into ASA for every client and provides in-product help and support to help make the most 22

of its diverse functionality. Accountants can also view a backlog of MTD VAT 100 data and open obligation periods for MTD clients. This software also offers an extra layer of security to accountancy with user permissions used to control who has access to client data, this is an important feature in a time when digital security plays a key role in reducing fraud.

WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR THIS NOW? With recent changes introduced as part of MTD the transition to a new government portal means that many Sage customers are able to access information about their clients. As the accounting role continues to evolve and tax goes digital Sage is supporting accountancy practices as they seek to offer the best service possible. This software was launched as a response to customers calling for greater visibility of their clients MTD status, VAT returns and liability payments and above all, to help them perform their job properly. Soon, users of the software will be able to sort and filter clients by MTD readiness. The software will also give accountants the ability to manage the ‘digital 64-8’ relationship for all clients from within the product.

WHO ELSE IS PROVIDING THE SERVICE? This innovative VAT Centre software is the first free and vendor agnostic VAT centre to launch in the UK. NQ NQ Magazine January 2020


ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

You are a ninja of numbers T

he role of the Chief Financial Officer has changed forever, says a new report from Sage. The primary role of the finance leaders is no longer in financial reporting! CFOs are now polymaths, driving strategy and making technology decisions that affect the whole organisation. The ‘Sage CFO 3.0 – digital transformation beyond financial management’ report reveals a significant evolution in the CFO’s job function. It says that to be successful today’s top finance professionals need to become a ‘ninja of numbers’ in digital transformation, data analytics, cyber security and financial accounting! The study revealed nine in 10 CFOs believe their financial role has expanded and shifted ‘significantly’ in the past five years. Digital transformation is now a prime responsibility for 60% of them. There is a big fly in the ointment – two-thirds of CFOs (64%) say they are still unable to make data-driven decision to drive business change. Almost half (42%) are also spending as much time collecting and preparing data as they are analysing it. This is limiting the overall productivity of the finance function. For many, this also means they rely on experience and intuition rather than the overwhelming weight of data they have at their disposal. Sabby Gill, Sage’s UK managing director, said: “CFOs are expected to be visionaries, using data to make intelligent decisions in order to drive digital transformation in their organisation. For this to become a reality, it has to be easier for leaders to act upon data at speed.” Interestingly, the report also highlights the fact that organisations must not overlook the cultural impact of new technology. While eight in 10 respondents believe automation has improved business productivity, six in 10 are worried about the extent to which their own roles will be automated in the future. The vast majority (93%) believed that technology has to be carefully selected to align with the culture of an organisation. NQ

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● The report coincides with the launch of

Sage Intacct, its cloud financial management platform for UK customers. NQ Magazine January 2020

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NQ magazine, January 2020  

An online magazine for newly qualified accountants and those in the final stages of their qualification. It's packed full of careers advice,...

NQ magazine, January 2020  

An online magazine for newly qualified accountants and those in the final stages of their qualification. It's packed full of careers advice,...

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