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Five Ways to Stand Out as a Chartered Accountant

Today’s competitive landscape, where accounting is evolving, means accountants must stand out. Accountants need to differentiate themselves to attract new clients and grow their businesses.

According to CCAB data, the combined membership of their five bodies (ICAEW, ACCA, ICAS, CIPFA, and Chartered Accountants Ireland) amounts to around 275,000 accountants in the UK and Ireland. This year, ICAS celebrated a record year with the highest number of admissions in its 170-year history, with 843 new chartered accountants.

While chartered accountants remain in demand, standing out is essential for career growth. But how do you have a competitive edge as a chartered accountant in the UK?  Here are five ways to stand out:

1: Embrace new technology

Nowadays, accountants have tools and software that streamline processes, improve efficiency, and deliver added value to clients. Embracing technology differentiates accounting firms from their competitors. They can give innovative solutions and insights to help businesses thrive.

You’ll need to have strong technical skills, including:

  • auditing
  • financial analysis
  • tax planning
  • using accounting software

Accounting firms are applying automation to their business processes, such as:

  • signed documents
  • analytics
  • data entry
  • reconciliations
  • financial reporting

Automation can speed up bookkeeping and tax preparation so accountants can focus on value-added work and financial analysis, forecasting, and decision-making.

Charted accountants are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to improve their work efficiency. This includes automating routine tasks and improving accuracy. Technology enables accountants to focus on problem-solving, business development, advising, strategy, and leadership.  Technology hasn’t replaced expert knowledge and human decision-making, so qualified professionals are still in demand!

Accountants have to adapt to the changing roles and skills required by AI. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), skills that will be in high demand are:

  • AI: Accountants need to understand how AI works.
  • Soft skills: Accountants need emotional intelligence (EI), communication, and negotiation.
  • Business skills: Accountants have to broaden their business knowledge, be more proactive and strategic, and add value.

Our tip: These skills will help accountants give better advice, consulting, and solutions for their firms and clients.

2: Specialise in a niche

Accountants can stand out by specialising in a specific niche or industry. Specialisation can make you more valuable and sought-after. Consider specialising in a niche such as forensic accounting, sustainability reporting, or international taxation. By focusing on a sector, you can show your expertise and understanding of the unique challenges businesses in that industry face. This appeals to clients looking for a specialist with a deep knowledge of their needs.

Our tip: Understand the business environment in which you operate. Learn about your clients’ industries, challenges, and opportunities.

3: Strong communication and customer service

Develop excellent communication skills. Chartered accountants have to explain complex financial concepts to clients, colleagues, and stakeholders. Great service is also a powerful differentiator for accountants. By going above and beyond to meet clients' needs, delivering projects on time, and giving good advice, accountants can build strong relationships based on trust and reliability. Satisfied clients recommend their accountant to others. This helps to drive new business and expand their client base.

Our tip: Provide valuable insights beyond numbers. Help clients make informed business decisions based on financial data.

4: Continuous learning and professional development (CPD)

Accountancy is evolving, with new regulations, technologies, and trends shaping how businesses operate. Continuous learning and professional development are key to remaining competitive. Accountants need to stay informed about developments in their field and adapt their skills and services to meet changing client needs.

  • To expand your knowledge, attend workshops, webinars, and conferences.
  • Take qualifications or certifications related to your field, such as the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification or specialised industry certifications.
  • Develop leadership qualities. Chartered accountants often work in management.
  • Improve soft skills like teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving.
  • Develop your business acumen.

Our tip: To stay ahead of the curve, keep updated with developments in accounting standards, tax regulations, and financial reporting.

5: Network and build an online brand

Nowadays, a strong online presence can attract new clients and build credibility. An active online presence enables accountants to reach wider audiences and position themselves as industry leaders. The easiest and most effective way to create an online presence is through LinkedIn. Post often and share:

  • thought leadership articles
  • case studies
  • accounting insights.

Building a strong network can lead to referrals and new opportunities. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and connect with other accounting professionals.

Our tip: If you’re an NQA or an FCA with some extra time, volunteer for community initiatives. It showcases your commitment beyond your professional role.

By following these strategies and taking a proactive approach to stand out in the accounting and finance industry, chartered accountants in the UK can differentiate themselves. In 2024, standing out as a chartered accountant involves technical expertise, interpersonal skills, and a commitment to learning. In this fast-moving world, accounting professionals who have expertise, innovation, and a commitment to excellence are the ones who will shine.

If you’re looking to develop your chartered accountancy career, contact Meraki Talent today.

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