I have worked in the HR and recruitment field for over 11 years, with all of those being in the accountancy sector. It is clear to me that there has been a real shift in the perception of the industry and those it attracts at all levels, and is definitely a varied and diverse profession. I have highlighted some key areas of change I have noted in the past few years.


What used to be a profession for those with top degrees is now open to all, and accountancy is all the better for it. Apprenticeships are now the norm in many organisations which opens the door for a wide range of people able to enter the profession, with school leaver programmes becoming a key way of bringing new talent into organisations. Work experience and life skills are seen as just as valuable as a degree. Equally, many firms no longer only take on those with mathematical or financial backgrounds – there appears to be a growing trend in taking on candidates from all sorts of academic backgrounds. There is a huge array of transferable skills on offer from candidates who have been educated in various areas and firms are definitely utilising these skill sets more.

Gender Diversity

From my perspective, there seems to be a really strong mix of people entering the accountancy sector. My own firm has an almost even split of males and females among our trainees. My belief is that this comes from role models at the top of the hierarchy – the growth in flexible working opportunities, this has opened the door to more females reaching top levels within firms and breaking that glass ceiling. Flexible working, and hybrid working models, continue to allow companies to have a greater reach towards candidates and appeal to a wider market.

Work-Life Balance

Although work clearly plays an important part in our lives, it is also crucial to balance this with a healthy amount of time away from work, and doing things that you enjoy! A strong social culture within a workplace, whether that be big parties, smaller events, or ad hoc meet-ups, helps to relax staff and create a more collaborative environment. Firms appear to be seeing the value of this more and more – there can be a perception that accountancy can be a “boring” industry to be involved in but that could not be further from the truth! Seeing the value of staff wellbeing creates a better service for the clients too – staff are more motivated! For the majority of firms, working all the hours under the sun is no longer a realistic situation.

Wellbeing and Mental Health Awareness

Mental health awareness is a very hot topic, and many firms now invest a significant amount of time and money into ensuring employee wellbeing strategies are part of the everyday culture. Mental health first aiders are now the norm and employees are encouraged to talk about any stress or issues they may have. I’m seeing workplaces work in tandem with employees so that wellbeing is spoken about and people feel comfortable in their job. Communication is more open and the staff are asked what they actually want.


Last but not least, the accountancy sector has really embraced technology in recent years which has shifted the culture of the industry significantly. Cloud-based software is now the norm and many firms, including my own, have trained clients on how to use this to get the best out of their accounting needs. Within the audit sector, many audits are now conducted remotely, which pre-lockdown was unheard of. Along with greater flexible working that many now actively promote, technology has helped shape the industry into a very different space than a few years ago.

I have definitely seen the accountancy sector grow and develop and the opportunities that are available now are much greater than when I was starting out in the HR and recruitment side of this sector. There is a real merit in having candidates from all walks of life, and from a variety of backgrounds, as it makes accountancy a really diverse and interesting career to work in.

Chartered accountants can have all sorts of careers post-qualification too – whether that’s moving up within a discipline (audit, accounts) or specialising in a certain sector (like not-for-profit or media). Chartered accountants are in constant demand, and gaining experience within an accounting firm can set up opportunities for life. It is definitely a varied and interesting career path!

About the Author

  • Name: Michael Fraser
  • Organisation: HW Fisher

I joined HW Fisher in 2012 and am now the Senior HR Manager for the organisation.

As part of my role, I oversee the recruitment for the whole of HW Fisher, including trainees, office support and qualified staff, and promote and advertise these roles through a variety of methods to ensure we have access to the best suited people for the business. I also manage the training programmes for all non-ICAEW staff and work closely with our training providers to develop our trainees across the firm.

I also advise the business on various HR matters and have a keen interest in areas such as wellbeing and support, diversity and inclusion, and staff development.

I am an Associate member of the CIPD.

Chartered Accountancy - Industry Culture
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