New survey of accountants illustrates the rise of the young millennials
In 2017, Forbes found that 72% of millennials believe that “start-ups and entrepreneurs are a necessary economic force for creating jobs and driving innovation”. Two years later, Accounting Insight News reported that millennials lead 38% of UK small businesses, proving that Time Magazine was wrong when they called this generation “lazy” and “entitled” back in 2013.
This year, we ran our biggest ever survey and were able to drill down into the stats to uncover the rise of the young millennials in accounting.
In the young millennial age bracket – in our survey recorded as 24 to 34 year olds - 89% of respondents said they were owners, partners or directors of their accountancy practice. But just 33% are female, compared with an almost perfect 50/50 split in older generations.
More millennial practice leaders have completed an accounting degree (33%) than their older peers, but across all age groups the majority gained their qualifications through an industry body.
A massive 55% of accountants in this demographic rely on the ICAEW for tax information, which makes ICAEW the go-to source for accounting news and updates.
We asked: how could accountancy education be improved?
The responses to this question from younger millennials suggested that better practical education and experience is an improvement they’d like to see. One reply in this age group perfectly summarised the majority of answers:
“By focusing more on the real-world scenarios, giving a flavour of how to use the software etc, I feel there should be one separate exam just purely on Fintech and the accountancy and tax-related technology, apps and its ecosystems.”
Digitalisation for the generation that grew up with the internet
A concern across all age groups is the impact of Making Tax Digital and digital tax administration, with around a third of replies citing HMRC changes as their biggest anticipated limitation over the next 5 years. However, no respondents in the young millennial demographic indicated that they felt software or remote working would limit them, compared to 15% of both baby boomers and gen X.
We asked: how do you view the future of tax and accounting?
Almost every response to this question was framed with positive language featuring words like “exciting” and “bright”. There is also a strong belief that automation will lift the pressure of compliance and allow their practices to focus on advisory work.
One thing that accountants in all age brackets have in common is their dedication to their clients. Over three-quarters of our respondents told us that they have helped their clients adapt to new market conditions, and half said they have not charged for that help this year through the pandemic; another 28% reported that they charge on an ad-hoc basis depending on complexity, time spent and the extent of their involvement.