Social and Economic Factors Signal a Shift in Training Needs for Finance Professionals, Says ACCA

Social and economic trends have influenced dramatically the training requirements of the global finance profession, according to a new report by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

London, United Kingdom, November 21, 2009 --( The accountancy body’s new Insight Report, The 2009 Employer Guide to Training Trends in Finance says that social networking habits are driving demand for e-learning.

Compared with last year’s results, there was an 11% increase in the number of respondents stating a preference for e-learning when developing their business skills.

Simon King, Professional Development Manager at ACCA and co-author of the report says, “What we are witnessing is the influence of social networking habits on people’s professional development learning medium preferences. Recent research has indicated that networking and blogging now accounts for a greater proportion of time spent on the Internet than is devoted to e-mail. This shift is filtering through into learning preferences.”

Simon King, continues: “The complexity of the business environment and the uncertain economic times have shone the spotlight on a number of key value adding activities performed by accountants. The importance of these activities is, in turn, influencing the type of skills accountants are seeking to develop. Accountants are managing the risks, ensuring the sustainability of the business, and they are acting as the custodians of good corporate governance and ethical standards.”

For the study, 5,000 ACCA members globally were asked to identify the skills they most wanted to develop further, with risk management and financial management featuring high up the list. In terms of their business skills development, members identified analysis skills as their number one priority.

Simon King adds: “This verdict is a reflection of what business thinks is important – sound financial management, robust risk management and applying financial insight to commercial decision making are highly prized in the current business environment.”

Jamie Lyon, senior manager in professional development at ACCA, and co-author of the report continues: “The big challenge for businesses and finance professionals is all about having insight - applying what we call the ‘finance lens’ to business decision making.

“Business leaders want help in charting the way to recovery, and this starts with having a real understanding of the risks and value drivers in the business. Also, the operating environment is more complex due to economic conditions, so it makes sense that finance professionals want to develop their risk management and analytical skills to meet the needs of the business.”

The report also showed that:

Financial reporting, communication skills, leadership skills, and change management skills were also all identified as key areas for development.

Organisations must offer a blend of learning approaches, and e-learning needs to become a core component of this offer. The report shows that accountants prefer to acquire these skills in a face-to-face setting, but e-learning is gaining in popularity.

A consistent, global approach is important as the findings show that what accountants want to learn and how they want to do this is consistent regardless of geography. Currently, there is a consensus as to what businesses need from their finance people.

Simon King concludes “Throughout 2009, salary and training budgets were under pressure. The external environment has had a huge impact on the demands placed on finance professionals and the nature of the contribution they are being asked to make. However, time spent devising and implementing an appropriate employee development programme remains as important an investment for an organisation’s future as ever.”

Notes to Editors
For further information, please contact:
Helen Thompson, ACCA Newsroom
+44 (0)20 7059 5759
+44 (0)7725 498654

Notes to Editors

1. ACCA is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. We have 362,000 students and 131,500 members in 170 countries worldwide.

2. All ACCA members who are active in the workplace are required to undertake relevant Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to ensure that they maintain and develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s dynamic and demanding business environment. With a focus on ethics and relevant learning and development, ACCA believes that CPD is not only central to the fulfilment of career aspirations but is also a lynchpin in securing public trust for the accountancy profession.

3. ACCA has taken a flexible approach to CPD in recognition of the diversity of its members; there are 4 routes members may take to achieve CPD and a comprehensive suite of learning opportunities on offer, including face to face courses and networking events, further qualifications, research, access to online standards, a broad range of technical and business e-learning and, finally, cutting-edge virtual learning enabled by the latest technologies.

4. ACCA understands the real issues facing small businesses as 63,000 of our members work in SMEs or small partnerships worldwide.

5. The full report can be found on ACCA’s website:

6. To access other reports in the Insight series, including Accountants for business, the recent research on finance functions, visit

Matthew Gazeley
+44 (0)20 7462 8961