A week in the Swiss Alps with a group of top accountants gave James Marshall food for thought

Be prepared to accept what you thought you knew about accountants is wrong

The Swiss Alps is often known as the winter playground of the rich. A part of the world where the movers and shakers of finance and commerce indulge in fun on the slopes, après ski and, ahem, fondue.

It’s also the home of the World Economic Forum in Davos, so a pretty exclusive club. So spending a few days with some of the best brains in the world of accounting while enjoying a winter break proved both enjoyable and illuminating.

What is apparent, talking to these leading lights, is that there has been a sea change in the profession and everything you perhaps thought you knew about accountants is wrong.

Perception is everything or at least vitally important and the world of accountancy has changed and continues to change at pace, and the people sharing their experiences in the rarefied Swiss air are some of the most dynamic and forward-thinking in their profession.

Nearly 60 years ago in 1963, the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, less than 20 years after the end of the Second World War, gave a speech at the Labour Party Conference.

He told his audience that if the country was to prosper, a “new Britain” would need to be forged in the “white heat” of a scientific revolution.

But, he warned change would have to reach every corner of the country and that there would be no place for the restrictive practices or outdated methods on either side of industry. It was one of the most memorable speeches in British politics.

A similar analogy could be applied to the image of accountancy, often perceived dominated by grey men in grey suits, but now replaced by a new dynamic breed of younger accountants. That’s not to say that those who have been in the profession for a longer period have not also adapted to the changes within the profession.

They are all now embracing their own technological revolution and moving their profession ever closer to advisory, support and data analysis roles, which in turn is helping SMEs to prosper in the ‘new Britain’ emerging from the pandemic.


That’s why the industry is now more about relationships, advice and guidance and less about numbers, although obviously the numbers still count.

This change, in turn, makes the job even more attractive to potential recruits who so far may have been hesitant to take the plunge into the world of accountancy, but can see the opportunities opening up to them.

Confidence but not arrogance

While there was plenty of socialising in ski chalets, much was discussed about the way forward with accountancy and how they can rely on partners to take some of the more mundane workloads while they concentrate on maximising the developing their role with their clients.

These people are confident in what they can achieve for the clients, confident but not arrogant, the attitude that says do not to worry about anything, but do what you can to control and influence the situations arising.

We currently live in a world of skill shortages, so implementing the right recruitment processes has now become even more critical. The need is to convince people that the world of accountancy is a world of high skilled, highly-trained individuals with fantastic career opportunities

This is particularly relevant with the growing need to embrace the Government’s Making Tax Digital project and what comes beyond that.

That can then be translated into key areas where recruitment may have been a problem and potentially still is.

Key areas to concentrate on when looking to attract staff  and improve the business include:


  • Communication and making a connection and making sure experience is passed on in a simple and effective manner
  • Developing employment and interpersonal skills through the use of software
  • Maximising the use of that software through partners like GI who recently been involved in implementations of Dext software and who can supply and im
  • plement more than 50 cloud-based applications through their expert team.

Once the eager new recruits are in place it is then time to build their confidence making sure they are using their time efficiently. Also ensuring they are not bogged down with basic compliance work, and are freed up to spend time supporting clients in the most time-efficient and cost-effective way.

Drilling down into what top accountants are thinking was an enlightening experience, business certainly, but also pleasure.

Contact our UK-based team of account managers today to find out how we can help your firm.

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