Report highlights the need for accounting to become a STEM subject

AICPA & CIMA, the global organisation which represents nearly 700,000 AICPA and CIMA members, candidates, and engaged professionals worldwide, have welcomed a report by MPs calling for accounting to be considered a STEM subject in the UK

The report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Accounting for Growth, which The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) provides the secretariat for, found that including accounting in STEM would give the grouping a more commercial focus, and guide young people towards developing high-end skills relevant to the modern workplace. 

The report discovered that the understanding of what STEM is supposed to achieve would benefit from clarification, and the grouping would benefit from a stronger focus on its commercial application. If accounting were considered a STEM subject, it would raise the status of the profession and recognise the vital contribution it makes to the functioning of modern organisations. 

Raising the profile of the profession is particularly important as competition for new talent is intense, and talented young people have many career options to choose from. If accounting were part of the STEM designation, it would be clear that it is a pathway to putting high-level technical skills to practical use. This clarification would be a benefit for both prospective accountants and the wider economy. 

The report highlighted the feeling among many CFOs that the increased use of technology by accounting professionals meant that their finance teams were adding more value to their business than they were in the past. Innovations including artificial intelligence and robotic process automation are automating routine tasks and freeing up time for more high-end work, aimed at influencing the strategic direction of organisations. This technological aspect of the role would be reflected by including accounting in the STEM designation. 

Commenting on the report, AICPA & CIMA chief executive for management accounting, Andrew Harding, said: “We welcome this report, and I hope it stimulates further debate on designating accounting as a STEM subject. In recent years, accounting has developed many high-level technical aspects, including the use of data analytics and advanced forecasting tools. 

“It is right that this technical component is recognised through the STEM designation. Young people choosing their career paths should fully understand that if they train as accountants, they will be using cutting-edge technology to influence organisational decision-making at the highest level.” 

Deloitte strengthens early careers team to nurture future talent

Deloitte has appointed three new senior managers into its early careers recruitment team in the UK. The team recruits over 3,000 candidates each year to its award winning BrightStart apprenticeship, graduate scheme and work experience programmes. 

The appointments are part of Deloitte’s increased investment for early careers and young people, including opening up more work experience places this year by doubling the capacity of its Spring into Deloitte programme.  

Deloitte has also ramped up its in-person events to nearly 200 this academic year and it was headline sponsor for National Student Pride (23 - 25 February 2024). Deloitte’s careers team will be attending 75 careers events including 25 university campuses this spring. 

Victoria Alcock, Deloitte’s new head of talent engagement has joined the firm from EY’s student recruitment team. She has over 12 years’ experience in early careers recruitment, and previously held positions at Teach First. In her new role, she will focus on increasing Deloitte’s engagement with diverse talent pools and early identification of talent. 

Justin Fay, early careers recruitment senior manager, has joined the team from PwC and has ten years’ expertise in student recruitment previously working for Arup and DLA Piper.  

Becky McVittie has been promoted to early career recruitment senior manager after initially joining the firm in 2022. She brings ten years’ experience from recruiting firms such as AmberJack Global and in-house roles at npower. 

Deloitte early careers recruitment head Lauren McCafferty said: "It is brilliant to welcome three new senior managers to the team. They have already launched some great initiatives, most recently leading our work as headline sponsor for National Student Pride. Their wealth of experience, knowledge and creativity will be invaluable in helping us attract and retain talented people to Deloitte’s early careers programmes." 

The team has also recently launched two new websites, Discover Your Path and the Candidate Preparation Hub, to help students find out more about a career at Deloitte and top tips for the assessment process.

IFAC identifies areas for improvement for accountants facing increasing sustainability demands

The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has released a new publication setting out four key areas where accountants need to update their knowledge to meet the growing demand for high-quality sustainability-related information.  

Equipping Professional Accountants for Sustainability: What’s New and What Hasn’t Changed speaks to the vital role accountants play in producing reliable sustainability-related data, reporting and assurance, as well as the importance of education and training in ensuring professional accountants are able to meet society’s needs. 

Much of what accountants already do is transferable to sustainability; however, new topics and challenges require new ways of thinking and working. The framework aims to help professional accountants as well as professional accountancy organisations close any gaps between known and needed technical expertise, business acumen, behavioural competence, and ethics and professional values.

The publication was developed following previous sustainability and education research as part of work to revise the International Education Standards and with the support of the IFAC International Panel on Accountancy Education. 

Formal and informal changes must be made to make the new flexible working bill work, says workplace safety leader

On the 6th of April, a new law comes into force in the UK that means all new employees can request flexible working from the first day of their employment - replacing the current rule which states that an employee must have been in employment for at least 26 weeks.

Richard Bedworth, VP Sales at lone worker safety experts StaySafe, says that although this new law will give employees more control over their work-life balance, it’s on businesses to make sure they are ready to adopt - and support - these changes, both formally and informally.

“Flexible working has long been a perk offered up by businesses to attract talent. But, particularly for new employees, there has been no regulation of what that looks like. These changes mark a significant step towards giving employees greater autonomy and flexibility in managing their work-life balance from their first day of employment. 

“We know from research that embracing flexible working requests is key when it comes to fostering a healthy and productive work environment. While these regulations grant employees the right to request various flexible arrangements immediately, it's essential that businesses actively promote and nurture a culture that supports and encourages such initiatives. 

“The importance of having formal systems and processes in place that eliminate biases when handling flexible working requests cannot be underestimated. Establishing clear guidelines and business procedures that ensure all employees are treated fairly, regardless of their roles or backgrounds, is fundamental to success. 

“Adopting transparent and unbiased systems will allow businesses to create a level playing field where employees feel confident in requesting flexible working arrangements without fear of discrimination or prejudice. Furthermore, fostering an inclusive environment sends a powerful message that the organisation values diversity and recognises the varying needs and commitments of its workforce. All of this is vital to improving employee morale, which as we know, reduces employee turnover and improves output. 

“Ultimately, although the law is changing, the onus is on individual businesses and their leaders - regardless of their size - to implement procedures which will make a tangible difference to all employees and make their lives easier.” 

ISCA launches SCAQ Academy and Centre

The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) has launched the Singapore Chartered Accountant Qualification (SCAQ) Academy in partnership with the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), one of SCAQ’s registered learning organisations (RLO). 

The partnership aims to ‘make a mark on the global stage’ and support aspiring chartered accountants worldwide. 

The SCAQ Academy will run classes in a hybrid format in order to support the evolving needs of SCAQ candidates. The hybrid approach will allow candidates with demanding schedules to dial in to classes from their homes or workplaces to increase accessibility and flexibility. However, candidates who prefer face-to-face learning can attend in-person classes.

Additionally, ISCA is launching the SCAQ Centre, a dedicated space located at level 3 of ISCA House on Cecil Street, Singapore. The space has been specifically designed to: 

  • Provide a conducive study environment for SCAQ candidates. 

  • Cater to working adults with convenient opening hours on weekdays and weekends. 

  • Host SCAQ study groups. 

  • Facilitate complimentary revision classes for local university alumni. 

  • Double up as a social space for engagement events such as networking sessions, thought leadership sharing, mentorship, and workshops. 

Beyond providing a conducive space, there with be facilitated study sessions led by training professionals familiar with the SCAQ curriculum. These facilitated study sessions are designed to provide a help-on-demand service for candidates, so that candidates will be better positioned to pass their SCAQ module examinations. 

LSBF Global CEO Rathakrishnan Govind said: This strategic alliance with ISCA signifies LSBF’s continued commitment to delivering professional accountancy qualification in Singapore. By teaming up with ISCA, the national accountancy body, we aspire to nurture the next generation of Chartered Accountants with the skills and expertise to lead in this new global business environment. With this collaboration, we expect over a thousand learners to have access to LSBF’s professional industry experienced faculty and with ISCA’s valuable resources, ensuring a comprehensive and impactful learning experience.” 

ISCA president Teo Ser Luck said: “We envisage the launch of the SCAQ Academy and SCAQ Centre to meet the needs of our candidates and provide them with the flexibility and support that they require to learn and prepare for the qualifying exam. We will support every candidate’s professional development in their journey to becoming a chartered accountant.”