How to work collaboratively as an accountant

New research conducted by AAT has revealed over half of UK finance workers are confused by financial terminology at least once a week.

With the world of finance ever-evolving, even the most seasoned professionals struggle to keep up with the latest legislative and technical changes. What’s more, 42% of those struggling with terminology admit to being too embarrassed to ask their workmates for help and instead turn to tech for the answers.

In this article, we’re exploring the importance of fostering a supportive working environment and how you can work collaboratively to strengthen skillsets and plug knowledge gaps.

Firstly, what is collaborative working?

When we talk about working collaboratively, we’re considering the ability to work together to achieve a common goal. This might seem easy to do on the surface but it can be challenging, especially when it involves working across multiple departments, offices, or seniorities. Despite the challenges, working together empowers people to share ideas, balance workloads, and strengthen skillsets.

You might be thinking that using tech to solve problems is the most efficient way, however there are a few reasons why we would encourage you to turn to your fellow accountants for support and to be there when they need help.

Prioritise accuracy

With two thirds of financial workers using Google and just under half turning to AI/ChatGPT for answers, there’s a risk for incorrect information influencing decision making. Whilst a quick search online might seem faster and less embarrassing than asking a colleague, it’s important to remember the bank of knowledge and experience within your team. AI systems are becoming more impressive as the technology continues to develop, but it’s important to remember that AI is not infallible. There are a few factors that could make the information it presents unreliable, for example AI tools are trained on data, so if there are errors or bias within that data the results could be incorrect or misleading. What’s more, AI is currently unable to verify the credibility of the information it presents, so it would be risky to bank on the results.

A concerning revelation released as part of AAT’s research findings is that a quarter of UK finance workers regularly choose to simply pretend they understand financial terminology, with nearly half (45%) having witnessed serious errors in their workplace due to misunderstandings of basic financial language. The implications of an accountant producing incorrect work could be huge for the professional, the firm, and the client. Incorrect financial forecasts, statements, tax returns, or audit reports could have serious consequences, including fines and legal liabilities – especially if it’s revealed that the accountant knowingly made the error due to a lack of knowledge or experience.

Strengthen skills

We all choose the quick-win solution from time to time, especially when we’re under pressure or working to tight deadlines, but investing in learning and development is more beneficial in the long run. Knowledge gaps left open can put your career at risk, and those surveyed by AAT agree – Nearly half are worried that a lack of terminology understanding will result in them losing their current job.

As the industry and client demands evolve, it’s important to keep up to date with changes to best practices, legislation, and terminology. Within accounting, professional development is an ongoing process and whilst it might seem daunting, it’s crucial when building a progress practice career. There are a wide range of learning techniques adopted by accountancy practices, from formal training programmes to informal knowledge sharing within the team. Does your firm empower you to continuously develop? If not, why not suggest ways to incorporate learning that will strengthen the team?

There’s a wide range of more general benefits of collaborative working that are also worth considering, such as:

  • embracing diverse perspectives from other team members from different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise
  • enhancing problem-solving by bringing together multiple minds to tackle challenges and implement more effective solutions
  • increasing productivity by dividing and conquering tasks that would be a mountain to climb for someone working in silo
  • improving communication by fostering an open and supportive team culture, where people feel encouraged to share ideas or ask for help
  • increasing talent retention rates as staff have the opportunity to learn from others and develop their career

Here at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, we’re working with accountancy practices up and down the country that champion professional development, and we’re sure they’d be shocked by the recent data released by AAT. In an industry that is heavily regulated, accuracy is essential for ensuring firms and clients are compliant. If you’d love to work with a forward-thinking firm that empowers you to continually learn and develop, and your current firm isn’t offering you this, now’s the time to find the right role for you. The team is always here to help, so don’t hesitate to contact us today.


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