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Kaplan survey: change is good!

Career changers are delighted to become accountants, says a new survey

February 2016

In the UK, more and more people are taking the decision to re-train as accountants. With a good salary once qualified, real growth opportunities and a growing demand for accountants across all industries, it’s no wonder many see it as a strong choice.
Recently, Kaplan investigated this trend in more detail. It wanted to understand exactly why so many career changers consider accountancy/finance roles as their preferred option and what their perception is now they are working in the industry.
So at the end of 2015 Kaplan asked 13,947 UK accountants: if they had changed careers to retrain as accountants, how did they find the career change process? And why did they decide to become accountants?
Surprisingly, 55% of respondents told Kaplan that they had started out working in a different industry – most from an existing office/admin-based role. Customer services and retail roles also featured highly on the list. The high proportion of career changers indicates a really positive perception of the industry.
Disappointingly, even though many came from an existing office/admin role, only one-third of them were able to retrain within their current company, suggesting the opportunity for horizontal movement and re-training support from UK employers has room for improvement.
When asked why they had chosen finance/ accountancy as their preferred industry, they sited ‘better earning potential’, ‘better career progression’ and ‘an enjoyment of working with numbers’ as their top three reasons.
Their top three concerns for putting off a career change mainly centred on lack of qualifications and the cost and time required to study. Some 27% were worried about the cost of training, which clearly shows a lack of awareness about funding options available to students to make studying more affordable. Another 23% said they were concerned they did not have the correct qualifications. Driving awareness of entry level qualifications open to anyone seems like a good way to alleviate some of these concerns.
Positively, the phrases “I didn’t understand what an accountancy role involved” and “I believed accountancy to be a boring profession” both scored very low on the list of concerns – showing some of the stereotypes associated with accountants don’t ring true!
Now the big question: how many of them are actually happy with the choice they made? Kaplan asked respondents to rate their job satisfaction on a five-point scale from ‘extremely unhappy’ to ‘extremely happy’. An overwhelming majority of 80% rated themselves as either happy or extremely happy, highlighting that they were pleased with their decision to move into the industry. Even more impressive was that 83% of respondents would actively recommend a career in accountancy to one of their friends or family.
Kaplans hopes this research will encourage more new accountants into the industry and highlight the wealth of opportunity and levels of job satisfaction accountancy can bring.
If you would like to see the full research visit blog.kaplan.co.uk/careerchange
• Thanks to Kaplan for this article

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