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Out of date training methods our out the window at FinOps Academy
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FinOps Academy targets accounting tech skills gap

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Frustrated with a lack of hands-on training in the tools commonly used by accountants, a finance and accounting consultancy has launched a course training accountants to solve real problems in the startup world.

9th Nov 2022
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Startup specialist Quantico has launched the FinOps Academy (short for finance operations) to cater for accountants looking to learn practical skills such as building finance processes, assessing which software tools to use and how to automate and integrate finance technology.

Founded five years ago by former PwC alumni Dan Hully, Quantico set out to deliver in-house finance teams for startups.

During its work with startups, Quantico found that many accountants working in the sector came from large corporates. Many of them were drawn to smaller entities in search of a role that provided job fulfilment and strong ethical values, rather than just high pay and stability. 

However, Hully felt the syllabus currently being taught in the traditional accountancy exams leant more heavily on T-accounting and books of prime entry and lacked some key topics such as software and coding. This oversight was depriving new graduates with the skills needed to thrive in a startup environment; those who were succeeding were doing so in spite of the training, rather than because of it.

What tech skills do I need on day one?

Oliver Wimshurst, who leads the FinOps Academy, told AccountingWEB that accountants’ training hasn’t kept pace with technology. 

“There’s a growing gulf between theory and reality and we’re finding accountants aren’t prepared for roles they’re taking. They don't actually have the skills they need to succeed,” said Wimshurst.

“There’s a new wave of ‘strategic’ part-time or virtual CFOs who don’t want to set up processes but just provide a top-level plan. That can work for established businesses, but startups need someone who'll roll their sleeves up and start from scratch.”

Wimshurst said they had designed the academy to answer one fundamental question: as an accountant, what skills would I need on my first day at Quantico?

The modular course provides structured training designed to bridge the current expertise gap and give accountants hands-on access to a number of different software tools.

The idea for the programme came out of a Slack group where accountants discussed the day to day challenges they faced. The online conversations evolved into a course that became known as the “School of FinOps”. This course included wider topics like coding for accountants. Quantico ran that for a year or as a precursor to creating the new training provider. 

The FinOps Academy currently has two modules available:

  • Expenses and spend management, where participants use spend management tool Pleo to learn to manage spending and expenses and create team payment cards to transform and scale how purchases are made; and 
  • Payroll and HR, where accountants use payroll software PayFit to look at how to integrate payroll and HR to build automated processes that will save that business time as it scales.

Two further modules on forecasting and modelling and payment systems and operations are due to be launched before the end of 2022.

Software agnostic

Accountancy bodies and established training providers and accountancy still shy away from technology training in fear of accusations they might be seen to favour one vendor over another. 

With accounting software an increasingly tribal affair amongst firms, Wimshurst acknowledged the difficulties that come with the territory but insisted that the practical benefits of the Quantico training outweigh squabbles over which tool is used. 

At Quantico we are software agnostic – we take each client as it comes,” said Wimshurst. “For the FinOps Academy, our ideal scenario is to have a variety of different software systems. 

“However, this takes time. We wanted to get the course moving and provide accountants with hands-on practical training and access to the software. Therefore we chose the vendors we work with most closely with. In time we will bring on a list of wider providers.”

FinOps Academy courses are currently available for £480 per module plus VAT. For more details see the FinOps Academy website.

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By Hugo Fair
09th Nov 2022 18:17

Concept = brilliant
Quality/effectiveness = unproven

Guinea-pigs required, but even then it will be hard to quantify the degree of payback (financially and/or resultant competence/attitude of 'alumni') vs the lack of a 'control group'.

The key will be achieving a foundation that is *truly* 'software agnostic' - not just for practical reasons and an indicator of independence, but more importantly because it is only then that true understanding can be imparted (as opposed to mere 'how to' training).

Good luck, but this won't be a quick fix - and arguably shouldn't be left to the private sector.

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