A lack of training is widening the digital skills gap in the finance industry, according to a new survey by Xledger UK.

The Bristol-based cloud software provider surveyed 1000 in-house and accountancy professionals and found that almost half believe there is digital skills divide due to a lack of sufficient training in their teams. 

Half of accountants and over half (54%) of in-house professionals said they were experiencing a talent crisis. 26% of accountants and 22% of in-house professionals said the talent shortage they’re experiencing is their biggest hiring concern over the next five years. 

A third of respondents also said that technology issues are putting pressure on their day-to-day functions, with nearly half saying they are not able to access data as fast as they desire. This indicates that finance professionals may not have the resources they need to invest time in training their staff.

At the same time, the survey found that most finance functions are still not fully digitised and that there exists “restraint” towards technological change. Only 3% of accountants and in-house professionals have fully digitised their finance function. A third cited “fear of a long changeover period” plus delays and backlogs as the route of their concerns, suggesting that among some finance professionals, rolling out the right training is taking a back seat due to a resistance to digital transformation. 

The research also found that over half (51%) of accountants and in-house professionals think there is digital skills divide due to having multi-generational teams, indicating those with more traditional skill sets may be reluctant to embrace new digital abilities. 

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Interestingly, 90% of accountants and in house professionals aged 18-24 also said there is a skills gap, while over 20% of 55+ accountants believe there is none. 

Commenting on this, Xledger CEO, Peter Hucker, said: “Our research shows that finance professionals do not have the right tools in place to train their staff to keep pace with digital transformation. There also seems to be a reluctance to digitise from those entering the latter stages of their career, who unlike Gen-Z and Generation Alpha employees, may not have had the opportunity to immerse themselves fully in technology. 

“Many employees, especially those who have grown up with modern technology, are looking for roles which can offer them future opportunities, so it’s important not to let outdated systems and reliance on familiar tools prevent the right training programmes from being rolled out.

“Encouragingly, we also found that 80% of in-house training professionals and accountants said they have confidence in their employers’ development plan to provide digital skills training, with those age 18-24 being the most confident. It’s important that businesses match this expectation through embracing new technologies and training to stay ahead of the curve and attract and retain talent.”