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The Accountancy Student Networking Group has 70,000 global members and counting!

It's a simple tool, but don't let that fool you... 

SWOT analysis is a very powerful way of analysing your next role and building your career.

 

If you have identified a potential next step in your career that is aligned to your preferences, you can carry out this self analysis to help you identify if it is the right move for you and how well placed you are to take up that opportunity should it arise.

 

Strengths

·       What have you achieved?

·       What are you good at?

·       What knowledge, skills, experience and qualifications do you have?

·       What are your personal qualities?

Weaknesses

·       Do you lack knowledge, skills or qualifications?

·       Do you lack work experience?

·       What personal qualities would you need to develop?

·       What do you not enjoy doing?

Opportunities

·       Are there any vacancies for the role?

·       Who can you speak to in order to gather more information about the role?

·       Is there an opportunity for you to ‘sample’ the role?
·       How can you undertake any learning and development required?

Threats

·       Would there be a ‘negative’ impact on your personal circumstances, e.g. time, family etc.?

·       Is the role aligned to your true values and preferences?

·       Who might you be competing with?

·       Are there any requirements you can't meet, e.g. flexibility for travel, working patterns etc?

 
And remember the key actions following a SWOT analysis:
 

Capitalise on your STRENGTHS
 
Turn WEAKNESSES in to STRENGTH
 
Explore OPPORTUNITIES
 
Reduce the likelihood of THREATS

 

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The ASNG’s previous interview with Employability Coach David Shindler was a fascinating insight in to the behaviours and attitudes we need to succeed in today’s accountancy market. 

Here, David goes through his top competencies to develop to stay on track in this changing job market.

 

  • Positive attitude – enthusiasm and a ‘can do’ approach come from your personality, choosing your attitude and enjoying your job. Take initiative, show empathy and see how to make the task at hand – and the firm – better.

 

  • Self-management - employers want active team members willing to take responsibility.  They want self-starters who are assertive, resilient, balanced and reliable, able to juggle tasks without panic.  They expect you to be committed to – and accountable for – your own development.

 

  • Teamwork - you must know what good teamwork looks like and know how you best contribute to a team.  Co-operating, leading and following are much in demand.

 

  • Communication – you must be able to listen well and to confidently ask good questions… the kind that elicits a thoughtful response. You should be able to build rapport and trust.  You are expected to be articulate and coherent both verbally and in writing.

 

  •  Technologically savvy – you will be expected to have a thorough understanding of information, social and digital communication tools.  That’s everything from MS suite, Apps to the Internet. From an employer’s perspective, embrace the digital revolution or become obsolete.

 

  • Numeracy – this will be taken for granted by accountancy firms, but you will gain an advantage if you can communicate numerical and accounting principles in lay language for clients.

 

  • Analytical thinking - analysing facts and situations, creative thinking for solutions to problems and working collaboratively.  Use your imagination – we all have one!

 

  • Business, commercial and client awareness - understanding the key drivers for business success, innovating, judging risks, understanding the need to build client satisfaction and loyalty.  Contribute wider than your role if you want to impress.

 

  • Collaboration – collaborators build relationships through trust and are comfortable with interdependence, self-disclosure and feedback. They value other’s opinions, have a win-win mentality and networking skills (“your network = your net worth”).
  • Global and cultural awareness – in our global economy, you are very marketable if you can work effectively in different linguistic or cultural settings – and in groups of different generations and team members with varied skills, working styles and values.
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In a recent ASNG survey, our members called out for more job and career support, so we have hunted out David Shindler, performance coach, author, blogger and founder of the Employability Hub who specialises in helping students and graduates to bridge the gap with professional life.  Here’s what he told the ASNG…

 

ASNG: Hi David, thanks for joining us today!

 

David Shindler: No problem, it’s a real pleasure to be here!

 

A: Firstly, can you explain how to develop your employability and why ASNG members should be learning more about this concept.

 

DS:  Sure, if we you look at the big four drivers of change in the workplace; the economy/austerity agenda, globalisation, technology change and  demographic change…you can quickly see that none of us are immune to change, and that includes firms and accountants.

 

A: Yes, standing still does not seem to be an option anymore, but how can we relate this broad definition of change to ASNG accountants?

 

DS:  The way I see it, accountants and the accountancy profession face new competitive pressures and are impacted by greater client choice than ever before.

We’re seeing new entrants to traditional markets (like online accountants), government intervention to help mid tier firms, mergers of these firms followed by large scale redundancies, that are both a threat and an opportunity for the ASNG members.

 

A: Yes, there is an alarming amount of churn in our industry at the moment.  But as you say, how can we turn these threats in to opportunities?

 

DS: In practical terms, it means embracing a brave new world, accepting change is good, learning new skills, new knowledge and adapting our attitudes and behaviours for changing personal and business circumstances.  Being employable means more than getting a specific job, it’s also about thinking in terms of lifelong learning and being more adaptable.

 

A: So, staying employable is about looking longer term and accepting that you will need to grow your skills and build your career?

 

DS: Yes, it is no longer enough for you to be good at say ‘tax audits’ for you to be good at your job. Sure, you need your qualifications, experience and professional expertise to be capable, but you must add to your employability “set of capabilities” to give you a greater choice of career paths and help you manage change, which we know is inevitable.

 

A: What sort of capabilities do you mean, things like soft skills and leadership skills?

 

DS: The CBI defines employability as “the combination of the attributes, skills and knowledge that you need to have in order to ensure you have the capability to be effective today and tomorrow in the workplace”

In simple terms, being employable means you are a good fit within the specific role, culture and business of a firm at any given point in time – whether you are starting out or applying for partner.  So yes, that fit is dependent on a set of softer skills, attitudes and behaviours, alongside the harder competences of accountancy.

 

A: I see, so we need to be more balanced in our skills sets, personable and analytical, communicative and detailed… Sounds like a challenge!

 

DS: It is a challenge, but thankfully there are people like myself ready to help with this development!

 

A: So what are the capabilities young accountancy students and professionals should be developing to progress their careers?

 

DS: Employers are increasingly looking to distinguish between graduates through focusing on their attitudes and mindsets rather than just technical competence.  Accountants tend to choose accountancy because they are good with numbers, but what about…

 

•           a positive attitude,

•           self-management,

•           team work,

•           communication,

•           being technologically savvy,

•           numerate in non finance terms,

•           analytical thinker,

•           general business acumen,

•           collaboration skills

•           and cultural awareness… we are a global profession.

 

A: Wow, that’s a scary list and seems to have nothing to do with accountancy!

 

DS: Yes, it’s a bit of a revelation to accountancy students and graduates, when they realise there is still so much to learn about “work”, but if you want to be successful in a changing world, add this list of skills to your development list!

 

A: Will do, and even though it’s a long list of extra learning, it looks like a lot more fun than Corp Tax… Ha ha, thanks so much David.

 

DS: No problem!

 

 

If you would like to contact David, please go to http://www.employabilitycoaching.co.uk/ 

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Bob Griffiths is a chartered accountant, a business coach and while he was not coaching business people, he has managed to find time to develop a bit of software that supports real time coaching.  The ASNG want to learn more about coaching and Bob...

 

ASNG: Hi Bob, how are you today?

 

Bob Griffiths: Great, and thanks for let me have the opportunity to talk to you about coaching!

 

A: No problem Bob, we are always open to bright ideas that can help accountants excel!  Before we look at CoachMaster, do you have any career coaching for our members?

 

BG: Wow, where do I start… I think one of the most important things in accountancy career, in fact any career, is to take responsibility for your career and all its facets!

 

A: Can you expand on that for us?

 

BG: I sure can, here’s an example from a client… He works for a major bank and had a complaint that most of his staff did not take responsibility for the next move in their career. 

 

So when appraisal time came around, most members of his team expected him to tell them about their next career move, irrespective of their performance.

 

And despite there being a huge programme of self development available and every resource imaginable devoted to encouraging staff to seek out opportunities for themselves, they waited for him to act for them.

 

A: Sounds like a slow road to nowhere… What did you suggest his team should do?

 

BG: Well, we talked it through in a coaching session and he devised a plan to help his team take responsibility for their career!

 

A: Good idea, but isn’t that a bit obvious…?

 

BG: Maybe but obvious and easy, doesn’t mean motivated and complete!  That’s where a career coach comes in, and it got me thinking…

 

A: I recognised that situation, so you coached him to deal with the issue and talk action…

 

BG:  Exactly!

 

A: So what else did you discover!

 

BG: As a coach it set me thinking that there is a major paradox when we come to taking responsibility for our career.  We tend to take charge of our personal lives and like to feel ‘in control’ of it but at work its different, and many of us don’t like that responsibility and would prefer someone else did it all for us and wait for recognition or promotion.

 

A: Hmmm… so why do you we don’t take action at work as much as at home?

 

BG:  I think a lot of this comes down to fear of failure, and we think we have more to loss at work, so do nothing (or very little).  Everyone likes to think they are willing to ‘step up to the plate’ and take responsibility for their lives.  However, regardless of what people say there is a big part of most of us (myself included!) who subconsciously fear failure and consequently wish someone else would take over, make the tough decisions and run their lives for them.

 

A: Ha, I think we’ve all had moments like that!  But what is wrong with not taking action?

 

BG: It’s a fundamental dilemma that everyone suffers from to some extent but by taking this approach we limit our options, as we can only enjoy successes if things work out, rather than taking responsibility.  On the flip side, when things don’t work we have to option on complaining about and blaming someone/something else!

 

A: It’s someone else fault, not mine!

 

BG: Right, but the down side of taking control and letting someone else take over our lives is that we cannot take confident steps toward our goals, in our desired time frame and claim all the credit and satisfaction when it works.

 

A: So if we play safe and wait for others, we ultimately kill our progress but justify it as we avoid possible personal failure.

 

BG: Yes, but who says you are going to fail, only you!

 

A: So, how do I change my approach to my career, how do I get change my view of failure, how do I get tough!?

 

BG: You don’t have to get tough, but you do need to change your approach and your thinking.

 

A: Oh Jedi tricks, I like the sound of that!  How do I do that?

 

BG:  Ok, here is the test.  If someone offered you a large amount of money to immediately get on with organising the next step in your career regardless of whether it was successful or not - would you do it?

 

A: Sure!  Unless it was a huge amount of money and I could retire, ha ha!

 

BG:  Ha, not a retire amount.  But you see how quick you would act, but why do you need the cash to motivate you to do this?  What has changed?  I think you have less fear of failure, so find it easier to act!

 

A: Ha, I see… so I don’t have to get tough, I just need to take accept failure is not an option, take some action, and stop thinking about it - just do it!

 

BG: Yes.  Some coaches call it “the power of now”.  Obviously you need a plan, and need to know where to put your efforts, but you are absolutely right, taking control of your career is about working on YOU (your self development, your self awareness, your personal strengths) as well as your job, and definitely NOT waiting for your boss to hand you a golden ticket!

 

A: Thanks Bob, that’s really interesting!  So how do coaches help out?

 

BG: Coaches support you on this journey, as it is not always easy.  They help by asking the right questions, sometime challenging questions, giving unbiased support and by keeping you motivated help to accelerate your career progress!  They are not your buddy, but they aim to improve your performance, your career, your life!

 

A:  And is that what CoachMaster helps with?

 

BG: Yes.  It is a software that helps you coach, we believe the worlds first!  Not everyone has the time or inclination to become an expert coach, so CoachMaster helps structure the coaching sessions, helps to guide the coach to the right questions and helps find the right solution for the client, which could be a member of staff, a colleague, even yourself!

 

A: Well, thanks for this fascinating insight in to the world of coaching and thanks so much from all the ASNG members.

 

BG: Thank you, and if you would like any info on CoachMaster, please go to http://thecoachmasternetwork.com/software/

 

A: Thanks Bob!

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Posted by on in Exams

Clive Marsh is a Financial Management Author with Financial Times Group and Kogan Page, so a great guy to ask about passing FM exams! The ASNG asked for his top reading tips…

 

ASNG: Hi Clive, how is life as an author?

 

Clive Marsh: It’s fantastic and being an author to the Financial Times Group is pretty special too!

 

A:  Yes, I bet it is… I really must read the FT more!  Anyway, what's your take on passing financial management exams?

 

CM:  The way I see it, far too many students are failing their professional exams in financial management when they should be passing. I note that there are significantly more (ACCA F9 and P4) candidates failing than passing and this need not be the case.

 

A: Can you expand on that, it’s a pretty heavy exam after all!

 

CM:  Sure.  When I was studying I often found that I got stuck when reading the recommended text! Even though I read it time and again it sometimes made little sense - it is heavy as you say!

 

A:  Sounds a familiarly situation… so what did you do?

 

CM:  Well, I supplement the recommended text!  I simply bought another (carefully selected) book, a book more related to my day job and more authentic and it all became clear.

 

A:  Was it as simple as that?

 

CM: Yes, often just reading things by another author will clear the mind and make complex subjects seem really easy.  A good book written by a industry experienced subject matter expert rather a technical expert can be a real asset to students. 

 

A: I see, so its like a technical book, but not written like a technical book.

 

CM:  Yes.  Mastering Financial Management (published by Financial Times Prentice Hall) was written from a student’s perspective making sure that I have covered most of the subjects you will be examined in. Why not open the book online and examine the contents. It also comes with a comprehensive online financial dictionary.

 

A: I am sure we will Clive!  So do we ignore the recommended reading?

 

DS:  No, I wouldn’t recommend that, you must buy the recommended reading but do supplement your reading if you find a subject difficult.  And whatever the subject, make sure it is one written by a known author and published by a reputable publishing house.

 

A: Thanks Clive, that’s great advice!   

 

 

Mastering Financial Management, Clive Marsh, Financial Times Prentice Hall, published in both English and Chinese

 

Browse Clive's books here

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Posted by on in Careers

Hi ASNG!


Thanks so much for the hundreds of votes and comments we received for our new logo, we believe it is a triumph!

And thanks for some of the more random comments about the ASNG logos that didn't make the grade, but the comment sure made me laugh...


"It looks like a basket ball team logo" said one!  "Isn't that the Colgate logo?" said another...

But the best comment was the deeply thoughtful comment, we are a reflective bunch aren't we...

"Yes, it reminds me of Roman chariot racing and the strength of that community - it definitely reflects our professional group!" 


Well, that's another idea for the post exam gathering :)


Thanks again,

ASNG

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