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Let’s celebrate the accountants and bookkeepers tackling industry challenges

7th Mar 2023
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Despite the fantastic work you do, accounting and bookkeeping has an image problem, and may be impacting recruitment. 


There remains an old-fashioned perception of spreadsheets and suits, with little understanding of how crucial you are to supporting small businesses and the economy. 

Our research – Five biggest hurdles hindering accountants – highlights how recruitment is a significant challenge in the industry, and this misconception among the candidate pool may be contributing to practices’ struggle to fill roles. This is why we’re celebrating accountants tackling these challenges, to show why perceptions of the industry should change.

Meanwhile, the research highlights other hurdles beyond the battle for talent. Here, we break down some of the key points from our study, and how we can bust misconceptions of the industry to address one of its most pressing challenges. 

Tackling pain points

For accountants and bookkeepers, the business environment is changing dramatically. Our research identified five key challenges, though these also bring opportunities:

  • Regulatory change in the external environment, an ongoing source of uncertainty
  • The need to increase digital agility, to make the most of new working practices
  • The challenges in finding people with the right skills
  • A mindset challenge, in moving into more advisory roles for their customers
  • Demonstrating the real value you can bring to small businesses

Our report offers a number of recommendations to overcome these challenges, including asking the Government to promote the role accountants and bookkeepers can play in helping small businesses manage their businesses more efficiently. 

We also recommend it be made easier for accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses to write off investments in digital technologies to help make the most of new opportunities. 

Our goal is to keep fighting for accountants and bookkeepers, and to help you tackle these challenges. Part of this is ensuring the perception of accounting matches the reality – brilliant people offering invaluable support for the small business economy.

Changing perceptions

We want to highlight how the industry is changing, and what this means for those who may be interested in becoming an accountant or bookkeeper. We also want to celebrate the work you do to tackle preconceived notions of the industry. 

As for how the industry is changing: the role of accountant-advisors, who make an enormous impact on a small business owner’s success, require different skills to the old-fashioned stereotype of an accountant or bookkeeper. Traditional educational backgrounds and a strong bearing in maths aren’t as crucial as they once were, with soft skills like communication and relationship-building now far more important to the success of a practice and its clients. 

Take Alex Beattie, for example. Managing director at KRW Accountants, Alex volunteers for the army reserves – this has helped him improve interpersonal skills which are now crucial to his work with clients. Callum Tingle, managing director of Fresh Business Solutions, owns an axe throwing small business with his brother, and this entrepreneurship helps him be more creative.

Hilary Dyson, founder of Bridge Financials, is an opera singer, which enables her to connect with people after a day in the office. Zahra Kassamali, accountant at Jaffer & Co, manages six London BnB’s, helping her understand the pressures of a small business owner. And Neil Criddle, founder and CEO of NDC, is a heavy metal DJ by night, which helps him bring more of his personality to the day job. 

These accountants show there is far more to the industry than outdated perceptions. Now, more needs to be done to educate the next generation on the realities of being an accountant or bookkeeper, and the value you add to small businesses, providing the insight, guidance and support business owners need to thrive. 

Find out more about our report here, and if you want to learn more about recruitment challenges, solutions and more, check out our free-to-attend event, Xero Talks: Winning the battle for talent.