The UK needs the expertise of accountants to help boost its productivity, a new paper by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) has stated.
According to the CIMA paper, the UK’s growth has dwindled since the start of the pandemic, and it argues that the expertise of accountants, business advisors and financial professionals is critical in ensuring British businesses can increase their growth.
In an article on the response to the paper, Accountancy Age noted that many firms in the sector have been quick to back up the findings of the CIMA research.
Jamie Sherman, a partner at Moore Kingston Smith, told the publication: “Advisers have a significant role given their knowledge of different industries and success stories,” adding that they can be “invaluable when developing people strategy, improving recruitment, retention of talent, and training and upskilling”.
The CIMA paper said the UK was 15 per cent behind the US and France when it came to economic growth, demonstrating how Britain needs a major improvement in productivity to catch up. It stated that if the UK were a US state, it would be the poorest in the whole union.
Among the top problems cited by finance professionals that hamper productivity was the difficulty in hiring people with the right skills, listed by 18 per cent. A further 16 per cent listed a lack of existing skills and 12 per cent criticised management skills and practice.
Some of this may apply directly to accountancy firms themselves, of course; it is crucial that accountancy recruitment delivers the right candidates that firms need.
This is not just a question of basic qualifications, but an ability to develop skills in work to meet evolving business needs and emerging situations, upskilling to help fill more challenging roles as a matter of career development.
Discussing the importance of adapting to change, CIMA chief executive of management accounting Andrew Harding said: “The role of accounting and finance professionals continues to evolve at a rapid pace as they become more involved with data analysis, business intelligence and strategic thinking.”
The report highlighted that investment in career development is a general problem the UK has had during the pandemic, as firms have implemented remote working and focused on business continuity rather than training.
Firms hoping they can play a major role in providing businesses with the sort of accountancy support they need to improve productivity may see the report as a key indicator of the importance of recruiting the most skilled and adaptable accountants, able to make a difference in their work not just now, but also in whatever circumstances emerge in the years to come.
The CIMA report highlights issues that extend beyond many of the government’s ‘levelling up’ plans that seek to improve the economic output of many parts of the UK that have fallen behind London and the south east.
Such measures, including the Levelling Up Fund, have tended to focus on geographically-bound matters of infrastructure, such as improved public transport, as well as the regeneration of high streets and the enhancement of public assets.