I often get direct messages on LinkedIn from people asking me for either a job, career advice or helping them understand financial modelling and how do they apply for jobs in Australia, thinking Australia is immune to accountants losing jobs or unable to get them.
It's quite surprising that still despite the availability of some great information online, most of which is free, many of the people that I talk to you are really stuck and unable to get a job or just not able to really navigate the sort of challenges that we have in accounting and finance today.
All is not lost, we have options (if we take them)
Part of the problem is there is too much information, fake news and marketing messages that tell the story that all accountants will be replaced by robots.
This sweeping statement, (regularly refuted) is starting to ring true for those unwilling to learn new skills and technology or invest the time reading and discovering them online.
LinkedIn has got to be the best place to start, yet many people just don't leverage it nearly enough to learn, not just to connect. I am learning every day from many people in LinkedIn, especially those on Ander’s Masters list.
My personal take is that accountants that do not evolve and change with technology will be replaced. But for the rest that are keen to learn, there is lots of great opportunities.
Technology will enable and in some cases force change to occur. For those not willing to evolve its already proving challenging.
I am living proof of capitalising on those great opportunities, I hope that I can inspire people not to give up but also to evolve and learn new things.
I know of many qualified people that have been out of a job for a fairly extensive period of time and just unable to get employment.
I have also spoken to recruiters who have many qualified chartered accountants on their books with great cv's just not able to get their next role. Just see the number of "looking new opportunities" in LinkedIn.
What is equally disturbing is many of those highly trained and qualified individuals are having to downgrade the jobs they take just to have something.
A manual record keeping/bookkeeping job done by qualified chartered accountants or an MBA graduate cannot be good for one's self esteem. No disrespect to bookkeepers of course.
Top 10 challenges facing finance professionals
These are the top 10 challenges I see facing this group of ever increasing and lost finance professionals based on my interactions with them. Many of these people:
1) are not aware they need to up skill despite having great CVs and big company/overseas work experience. Big names on CVs don't mean as much these days as they did in the past.
2) do not really understanding deeply the concept of a finance business partner, only that its something they know they need to get into or be seen as one but have never been one. They cannot clearly articulate what it means to be one.
3) are blissfully unaware of how fast things have already changed in the finance industry (whilst they were employed) and enhancements to their best software package #Excel. Most never even heard of 3-way modeling, #PowerQuery and #PowerPivot the backbone of #PowerBI....don't even get me started on Monte Carlo simulation.
4) think getting an MBA qualification is the answer, yet not willing to spend money and invest in practical skills vs a traditional qualification/certificate. Most are not even aware of the #FMI (Financial Modeling Institute) or #Modeloff (World Financial Modeling championships). Or the difference between Analytics and Modelling.
5) are unaware that #FinancialModeling is not just spreadsheeting and the gap between their #Excel and a robust 3-way rolling model is massive.
6) think running a small business as a VCFO will solve all their problems only to find more problems as they dont have the infrastructure to scale their business.
7) are not being tech savvy regarding cloud adoption, accounting apps or listening to podcasts (which are free) or find much needed answers is a big issue. Many don't even know what an API is or that we are already living in the matrix of interconnected machines.
8) are unaware of the many social media thought leaders who share free ideas and concepts.
9) are confused and believing that their accounting body has their best interests at heart and can help them navigate these challenges.
10) have a mindset that is stuck in the past like all their fellow accountants who are equally ill-equipped to advise them on what to do next.
How I can help?
Having recently spoken to over 500 professionals in 4 countries face to face or online, all I can say is that are not alone.
You are certainly not going mad and no someone is not out to get you or ruin your career and life. I thought that for a short time.
A lot of accountants are confused, frustrated and feeling the profession is letting them down. Being an accountant today is not as rosy at it used to be.
I presented at AccountechLive in Nov 2018 to provide some helpful tips for delivering CFO services. But assume you don't want to take that leap and start your own consultancy.
What should you do?
What would I do if faced with similar challenge?
7 Steps you can take today.
Here are a few basic steps I would highly recommend you to do...best part it will cost you nothing but some time.
Please share with your friends, family or colleagues that are potentially also stuck.
1. Spend your travel or dog walking time (as I do) listening to some or all of these podcasts/webinars which are focused on finance and accounting.
Here are links to some helpful podcasts and webinars. I learn a lot of the many thought leaders and their guests on the podcasts. out there in Finance.
THE FINANCIAL MODELLING POSTCAST -with Matthew Bernath
FROM THE TRENCHES - with David Boyar and Paul Meissner
STRENGTH IN THE NUMBERS - with Andrew Codd
GENERATION CFO - Chris Argent
Here is a link to the ones where we specifically discussed Financial Modelling.
2. Follow these thought leaders in finance and accounting and read their posts, blogs and comments. Interact and even maybe... If you feel brave, start to write some yourself. Someone might notice.
3. Get up the skills curve in financial modelling. You might want to start with this blog post I wrote a while back.
4. Understand the world of analytics and start to play with tools like PowerBI. It's free with Excel, so no excuses you cannot afford it. Lots of free help videos.
5. Attend meetups, networking events and get away from behind your PC and talk to people out there. If Excel is your passion come to the #financial modelling in Excel meetup which is hosted around the world. They are free too.
6. Stop making excuses and blaming others or the system you live in, take action and do something about it.
7. Read Dr Carol Dweck book on Mindset or simply watch her TED talk.
The world is changing and sadly being a qualified chartered accountant is no longer guaranteed employment. If you haven't changed jobs in the last 5 years you probably unaware of this. I was certain my career was safe in a large corporate with more than 30,000 staffs. I was so wrong
All is not lost as it might seem in the media, but the time to act is now and the gaps that exist today will only widen and opportunities to add value will be more complex.
I trust this is post is useful to you in planning your 2019.
I encourage you to take a peak at my past articles on financial modeling which is the foundation of business decision making, planning and forecasting.
We have also redesigned our website to help you along your journey of levelling up in this space.
We will continue to discuss this topic and you can click to follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn or subscribe to our short but sweet newsletter.
Be sure to check out our pods and video page.
Here are also some past/present blogs that might be of interest.
Lance Rubin is the Founder of Model Citizn, partner of theOutperformer, approved training provider to the Financial Modeling Institute and Group CFO for SequelCFO.
I have more than 20 years of combined experience working in model audit, investment banking, corporate finance, finance business partner and Fintech CFO.
Organisations I have worked with include PwC, KPMG, National Australia Bank, Investec Bank and Banjo small business lender.