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Brexit and the ACCA member

John Williams says ACCA PQs are well placed to enjoy a successful career, whatever happens when the UK leaves the EU

July 2017

Brexit uncertainty is the new norm, to the extent that alarming stories have emerged of UK students being advised that the only way to find employment within the EU is to obtain citizenship of another European country. In the midst of all this scaremongering ACCA’s stance is clear… it’s business as usual, folks!
Now the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 50 has been triggered, the UK’s departure from the 27 nation block is just two years away. During that period, ACCA will continue to break down barriers and maintain its presence on the global stage. We will still be the number-one body worldwide offering professional qualifications, leading to rewarding careers in accounting, finance and business management. With more than 480,000 students in 181 countries well on their way to fully fledged membership we will continue to provide support throughout each individual’s journey and on-going career.

Crucial role:
In any period of uncertainty, accountants have a crucial role in boosting confidence and stability within business. The next two years will be the time for ACCA students and members alike to show they can really make a positive difference.
ACCA prides itself on its values. It is no coincidence that opportunity features first on ACCA’s core list of values – we ‘provide opportunity free from artificial barriers to people around the world’. Our qualification is truly global, offering flexibility across geographies and sectors. ACCA offers opportunity to its students through its powerful network of 7,000 Approved Employers worldwide, our globally-portable qualification and our emphasis on preparing individuals to become business leaders of tomorrow.

Looking beyond Europe:
While the future legal status of EU nationals in the UK and vice versa may not yet have been agreed, one thing is certain: both sides are keen the continued freedom and right to remain of foreign nationals in the UK and in EU jurisdictions is the first issue to be settled.
The good news is that, regardless of the outcome of negotiations, this is an opportunity for students to look beyond the shores of Europe. ACCA’s recent Generation Next research, which polled almost 19,000 respondents under the age of 36 from 150 countries, found 80% want a role in a different country at some point; 44% see a move abroad later in their career and over one-third see themselves going for a global role in their next move. ACCA operates the largest jobs board of any professional finance and accounting body, so both existing and future members can take full advantage of the global accountancy job market.
During the two-year negotiation process for Brexit, ACCA will keep members and students in touch with the many practical implications of proposed changes and widely engage on how ACCA will adapt to major shifts.
Even though careers in the UK and European states may become subject to visa and employer sponsorships for workers it is likely that an element of freedom of movement will remain, and career paths will continue to have flexibility. Global accountants are in high demand and future ACCA members will have the added advantage of an internationally renowned qualification being recognised by employers around the world, not just in the EU.
One of the prime benefits of an ACCA qualification is that it is designed to be applicable in many countries across the world. It also prepares students for work in a range of sectors and jurisdictions. Furthermore, with 100 offices and centres all over the world, and dedicated technical advisory, professional CPD courses and member network teams, ACCA will be on hand to help and support members with their problems, wherever they are based.

Business leaders of tomorrow:
Accountancy as a profession has transformed in recent times. The 21st century accountant is a strategic business advisor with a wide set of skills underpinned by excellent technical and ethical knowledge. Brexit presents an opportunity for many accountants to take a leading role in strategic business decisions and financial forecasting.
Embedded in business practices across every sector, accountants have incomparable insight into the financial security and growth potential of every country’s enterprises. They are adept at spotting risks and opportunities. We believe that ACCA members occupy a uniquely valuable position in their advisory and oversight roles within businesses and the public sector across the UK and indeed, all over the world.
The UK government has put international trade deals with new partners at the top of its agenda after Britain leaves the EU. This outward-looking approach will generate opportunity for many more businesses to begin or expand cross-border operations. ACCA members will have the unique advantage of having a global network of fellow members, employers and market offices at their fingertips to draw on market specific intelligence and technical expertise.
This is a time of massive change, and I hope PQ readers feel optimistic about the career choice they have made. The skills and abilities gained will be highly valued across business and the economy in the future.
As our Generation Next report identifies, accountancy training is an opportunity to acquire a portfolio of skills relevant in the wider business world beyond the professional finance function. So look ahead – with confidence!
• John Williams is Head of ACCA UK

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