A new initiative by ACCA – the global accountancy body – has highlighted 10 key drivers that are set to force change upon business processes, people and services, and more specifically how the Finance function within those businesses will need to prepare and adapt to meet these transformative challenges.

Challenges such as digital, new technologies, the global economy, politics, legislation, cyber security, risk, even climate change – are all set to impact business and the Finance department in potentially unimagined ways.

And for all these complex and diverse challenges, there is one consistent and obvious truth – that it will fall to ‘Generation Next’ to deal with them. The talent you are hiring today will be the leaders solving the problems of tomorrow.

So, just how ready is your business to find and retain the right kind of future talent?

Different Generation, Different Values, Different Ambitions

It will be critical for the HR professionals involved in assessing future talent needs within Finance and Accounting that they understand just what qualities, values and intangible skills will be required by business in the future.

One thing is for sure, organisations cannot attract, nurture or retain the finance leaders of tomorrow in the same way they have attracted and retained the leaders of today. This Millennial generation simply don’t work that way.

There has always been talk of a gap between every generation entering the workplace – in terms of their ways of working, values, career goals and learning. But it seems that the gap between today and tomorrow, between this generation and ‘Generation Next’ is bigger and more seismic than in previous generations.

Attracting & Retaining the Millennial Finance Professional

It’s a genuinely interesting time to be in Finance & Accounting – with innovation, globalisation and digitisation having a massively disruptive influence on the finance function, the opportunities for the young finance professional have never been greater. But factor-in the very different values and very different ambitions of today’s young workforce, the stakes in getting it right when it comes to the attraction, engagement, development, and retention of the youngest generation in the profession today are very high indeed. The fundamental contract between employee and employer continues to change; there is no more ‘employment for life’. Indeed, with this generation, there is no more ‘employment for the next 3 years’, let alone ‘life’, so fluid and short-term are their aspirations.

Millennials in Finance and accountancy are well equipped to deal with change driven by technology and globalisation. They have a global outlook, often expecting to work in another country in their next role or at some time in their careers. They are technologically savvy and technology holds little fear for them. Work-life balance and a variety of experiences are important to them and they will switch jobs quickly to attain what they want from their careers.

Understand Millennials and unlock their value.

Or do nothing, and lose them forever.

Just how ready is your business?

As an employer, involved in HR and the recruitment of the right talent, just how ready do you think your business is to cope with the changing requirements of attracting and developing young Finance professionals? Pick a number 0-100%

  • Do you have a good understanding of this Generation Next’s needs and values?
  • Have you already started to map out the changing requirements your Finance teams will have over the next few years?
  • Or are you only now waking up to the fact that the processes and systems you have in place may not be relevant for the next cohort you are looking to hire?

0% Ready – Where to begin?

Unsure what millennials want from you? Not clear on why they’re any different from the rest of us? If you think tomorrow’s employees mean business as usual, you’re wrong.

Millennials harbour specific career preferences that carry significant implications for employer engagement and retention strategies. Ignore them and you risk spiralling replacement costs and loss of knowledge.

They understand the value of a career in finance – they just need someone who understands them. The ACCA have produced a special report that can help you crack the millennial code, called Generation Next. Well worth a read.

25% Ready – Made a good start?

You understand that the stakes are higher than ever. The role of finance professionals and accountants, the employer-employee contract, and the career preferences of one third of your employees – all of these are in flux.

Now you need to address the situation. Make sure your employer value proposition is relevant to them. They’re not interested in ‘employment for life’.

They want to learn new skills, move frequently and laterally as well as vertically; they want the chance to work abroad and 81% aspire to start their own business. Use these insights to your advantage. Start now to change your policies, plans and recruitment advertising.

50% Ready – Halfway there?

You haven’t just understood Millennials, you’ve started to make the necessary changes to your business. Your career paths are transparent, and you offer on-the-job training, mentoring, secondments and training courses.

Now it’s time to ensure these professional competencies are continually developed and fold them into a portfolio that also includes interpersonal and ethical skills.

75% Ready – Feeling confident?

You’re in a good place. You’ve adapted your attraction and retention strategies and you’re having no trouble recruiting professional millennial finance professionals or accountants into your organisation. As you do so, think about how best to transfer to them the knowledge held by the older people in your workforce.

A good idea is to now start running mentoring programmes or knowledge share sessions to ensure the value of this wisdom is retained in the business.

100% Ready – So, what’s next?

Congratulations – your millennial workforce is going from strength to strength. Now you can capitalise on their digital savvy to accelerate the adoption of new technologies and even conduct reverse mentoring to bring the older workforce up to date.

You’ve also uncovered more value. Millennial preferences are only different because they live in a more uncertain world in which adaptability is key.

This in turn means they’re more resilient, more ambitious, more driven – and they want to work for you.

Ready for what’s next?

The ACCA has a strong track record in always looking ahead to anticipate change and understand its impact on business, finance and accountancy.

Now they are starting to work in partnership with employers around the world to help support them get ready for that change.

As part of this new initiative, they have looked at ten major drivers of change, and are inviting employers to explore just how ready their businesses are to cope with them.

Find out more on the ACCA website and use the interactive tool to assess your business’ readiness to challenges such as:

  • Blockchain and its impact on Audit
  • The great AI takeover
  • The new Skills gap
  • The rising importance of Ethics
  • China’s Belt & Road initiative
  • The unchecked proliferation of Risk
  • Coping with unmet Training needs
  • Trans-border business & a global economy


Is your business ready?

To find out more, and use the ACCA self-assessment tool, go to: www.accaglobal.com/are-you-ready

Image by © Hero Images/Corbis





Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.