The profession: a snapshot of morale

Research conducted by Accountancy Age and
CPA Australia has
revealed some surprising results about your views and opinions, about where you
want to work and how far the profession has progressed over the years.

Here’s a shock statistic to begin with. Only 6% of those who responded to our
survey could say hand on heart that they were ‘completely fulfiled’ by their
career. Indeed a whopping 80%, pondering this question found they had to take a
halfway position and concluded that they were only ‘mostly fulfilled’ by their
career choices. But perhaps the saddest number to note is the one in ten who
confess they are ‘unfulfilled’.

Let’s continue this downbeat tour because if there is a dearth of fulfilment
out there in the profession, there is much career regret too. Here too it seems
that a place in the profession struggles to please.

A massive 44% of those who took part in our survey say they ‘sometimes’
regret accountancy as a career choice. That sounds like a lot of very unhappy
accountants out there, especially when you consider that 3% said they
‘profoundly’ regret their move into this line of work. There is an upside
though, and a statistic that will balance all this doom and gloom. Same 53% of
those polled said they were very happy in their careers.


So what are your career aspirations? Unsurprisingly, just over a third of you
simply said you wanted to make more money. But we wanted to be more specific.

Many of you revealed themselves as real go-getters and a third said that they
wanted to become a financial director, while around 15% want to a partner.

That’s an interesting statistic. While there seem to be enough people with
ambition to fill all the FD posts that will come up in the future, the small
number wanting to be partners begs a question about succession or the viability
of this form of ownership structure.

Our survey also revealed something about how you view the various service
lines you could work in. Corporate finance is seen as the most attractive (28%)
while working in business generally was the next most attractive (19%). Tax was
not far behind on 17%.

But talking of careers, it emerged that not all of you see your futures being
based in the UK. When it came to looking abroad a significant 36% said they were
looking for a short-term overseas posting. But a further 24% said they wanted to
move abroad for good. Add them together and you have two out of three people
looking to leave the UK. More than half of you said you would go to Australia or
New Zealand, if you had the chance. What’s so bad about the UK? Poor career
opportunities? Long hours? The weather? It’s difficult to say but 38% said they
were quite happy to continue working on these shores.

Part of the desire to flee the UK might be to do with the way the professions
is perceived and valued here. A third of you believe that people see accountants
only as a ‘necessary evil’. While that’s balanced by 36% who believe the
profession is seen as ‘dependable advisers’, the results seem to suggest a lack
of professional self esteem on the part of many accountants.

When asked if you would recommend accountancy as a profession one in four
could only go as far as ‘possibly’.


Would you recommend accountancy as a career?

A) Certainly 73.5%
B) Only if pushed 2%
C) Possibly 24.5%

Would you like to work overseas?

A) Happy in the UK 38.5 %
B) Move for good 24.5%
C) Looking for a short-term move 36.8%

How do you think accountancy is viewed in the UK?

A) A necessary evil 30%
B) As dependable advisers 36%
C) A vital player in the success of UK plc 19%

When we conducted this research in conjunction with
CPA Australia we
entered all respondents into a prize draw to win £1,000 in travel vouchers. The
winner of the vouchers Per Simonsen.

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