A decade of opportunity for Generation Z accountancy professionals and their employers is predicted by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants) in a new report published today Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the future of accountancy.

Gathering the views of 9,000 18 to 25-year olds the report throws fresh light on the aspirations and fears of this up-and-coming generation.

The findings reveal accountancy has strong appeal for Gen Z particularly as a gateway profession to a career in business, but the profession is missing opportunities to attract more people.

Respondents – including those who already work and study in finance and accounting and those who don’t or want to – see accountancy as an attractive career with long-term prospects and access to jobs that span internationally and across industries.

However, they are not wholly convinced that business leaders have integrity and do what they say (41%). 

This represents an existential moment for the profession and business because Gen Z will demand more accountability from the leaders of the organisations in which they work, in addition to having high expectations of their work–life balance and how employee welfare is managed. Sustainability is a key concern, but fewer than half of respondents believe businesses are currently pulling their weight in fighting climate change (39%).

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On this, ACCA chief executive officer, Helen Brand, said: “The world now demands more accountability and transparency – the mantra is simple: stakeholders, not just shareholders. For accountancy, this represents a potential turning point and these young people will help create a workforce which is more diverse, more inclusive, and which will make businesses more cognisant of their broader role in society.”

IFAC chief executive officer, Kevin Dancey, explains: “Employers have an opportunity to target a key population that includes those interested in a career that impacts long-term value creation and influences society on a wider scale. If we position the profession as one that encompasses economic, social, and environmental values, we will undoubtedly succeed in attracting young, invested talent eager to play a role in fighting climate change.”

The report explains the three critical waves of change that will reframe the future of accountancy work with Gen Z at the heart of this change:

  • Smart technology: Digital will transform the global economy and redraw jobs in the profession, changing the activities performed, how they are delivered, where work is done and who does it.
  • Skills & education 4.0: There will be a profound impact on workplace skills and education, as the capabilities needed in the profession to fuel organisation growth shift.
  • Careers transformed: Accountants are critical for helping to create sustainable value, and as businesses reframe goals to meet emerging needs, career paths will transform.

Brand concludes: “Our report explains how Gen Z will bring their talent and tech know-how to the profession and change it, pursuing careers with purpose and doing jobs that make a difference. It’s a message of opportunity and positivity as we work towards to achievement in 2030 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”