The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the global body for professional accountants and has an unrivalled network of 154,000 members, 432,000 students, Learning Providers and Approved Employers in 170 countries. Now based in New Zealand, Alana heads the New Zealand office for ACCA ANZ, one of ACCA’s 83 offices globally.
“This region is uniquely migrant-based so our role is less about domestic recruitment of accounting candidates, and more focused on the 85% of international students recruited out of Australian universities who have gone home,” says Alana. “The reality is that Asia’s economic growth offers significant career opportunities so we ensure that students have the channels and opportunities to head home, start their careers in relevant roles and gain their ACCA Qualification, when they repatriate.”
ACCA has continued to experience robust growth, helped by strong brand recognition globally and graduates knowing there are opportunities to be had internationally.
“Career guiders need to help graduates chase down opportunities. Employers of finance staff will expect professional body alumni making finance professionals even more valuable to a workplace,” says Alana. “ACCA trainees can serve their apprenticeship in any number of sectors and size of organisation to obtain their qualification. This gives ACCA trainees the opportunity to develop both breadth and depth of technical capability by the time they achieve their ACCA letters. And, as new ACCA report The Complete Finance Professional: Why breadth and depth of finance capability matter in today’s finance function reveals, the vast majority of Chief Financial Officers looking to appoint new staff for their businesses believe it is important for each potential employee to have both a breadth and depth of finance expertise and capabilities.
Established in the UK in 1908, 72% of ACCA’s membership now resides outside of the UK. ACCA has, for example, had a presence in mainland China since 1988 and harnessing the relationships built over time within the territory means ACCA is a brand and membership, well-respected and valued by employers.
“In a global workplace, finance is one of the few careers which truly offers a global passport to gain meaningful employment. Boom or bust there is always a need for capable finance professionals and once qualified, no one can take that capability and core competency away from you.”
ACCA is proud of its globally diverse and inclusive values. If students have ambition, ability and the determination to become financial professionals, ACCA offers the opportunity and flexibility to make that happen. ACCA has no interest in putting artificial barriers in people’s way with a philosophy that says We work around you, not you work around us! Whilst the rigour of ACCA’s exams are challenging, the scope and opportunities are there, which goes hand in hand with ACCA’s globally respected reputation.
“Of our members surveyed, 98% said that the rigour of ACCA’s exams and the challenge to qualify made them proud to be ACCA members. But we are realistic about the paths candidates take to qualify and how they need flexibility to build their core technical and specialist competencies and capabilities, as well as meet their employer’s business needs. At the end of the day we want motivated and successful students moving into full membership, so allowing for real life. Catering to the career aspirations of the individual makes for a better path to qualifying and career outcomes.”
Influencers within academia are incredibly important to ACCA. The key is a level of relationship and engagement that suits each institution, of which using CareerHub Central is a part. ACCA accepts graduates from all degree disciplines, with accounting majors generally enjoying exemptions from nine of ACCA’s 14 examinations. “Ensuring exemption accreditation at each university is always up to date is important. We are keen to ensure ACCA has brand visibility and those in influencing roles are aware of ACCA’s offering. Students, ACCA and university influencers is a three-way looped engagement.”
To enhance ACCA’s presence on university campuses, Alana recently initiated a ‘Campus Ambassador’ programme to liaise and garner on the ground feedback. Starting with nine students a couple of years ago, the programme now boasts an impressive 37 ACCA Campus Ambassadors.
“Using CareerHub was a more efficient way of reaching students for the role which has been hugely successful. My dream would be to have one ambassador at each university to raise our profile and make students aware of the ACCA’s offering. It’s also an opportunity to make our ambassadors workplace-ready as they gain experience liaising with ACCA as an external organisation. That’s an employable head start for ambassadors and makes good branding sense for us.”
As for the future, Alana is very clear about ACCA’s responsibilities.
“The credibility of the profession depends on society recognising the value that professional accountants bring in promoting good governance, facilitating access to finance for businesses and applying sound professional and ethical standards. All of this ACCA believes is crucial to maintain confidence in national economies and sustaining strong business performance.”
“And for graduates and employers of today and tomorrow, embracing change and diversity is key. Accountants who are prepared (not complacent), who are innovators and not afraid of what they don’t know will go far. It is this generation of graduates who will shape and influence the profession for decades, and help organisations create and sustain value. We all have a responsibility to ensure they are well equipped”.