Computer says no!

Tailoring your CV for every application is hard work and it’s crushing when you don’t receive any feedback either way. Why is that? Are people really that mean?

The answer is probably ‘no’ because, according the job search services firm Preptel, around 75% of CVs are never even seen by a human.

Larger companies (including the Big4) use automated systems to filter CVs before they even get that far.

By using a recruiter your CV is not only guaranteed to be seen by a real person but will also be correctly tailored using all the correct keywords and formats to ensure that all the right information is highlighted.

We are obviously delighted if you choose William Scott Associates to guide you through the application processes employed by our clients but should you choose to go it alone but want to make sure your CV is going to produce results we are equally happy to help.

2020 sees the launch of our CV Advisory Service. Check it out on our website for more information https://williamscottassociates.com/cv-advisory/

Don’t turn against audit

There was a recent article on economia highlighting the words of Professor Olaf Blik in the Netherlands who said that “auditors of failed companies are being blamed for everything when the question should be not only where was the auditor, but also where was the accounting department of the audited company, management, the internal auditor, the audit committee? “All parties need to play their role.””

One of my roles at William Scott Associates is to share relevant industry news and of late it feels there is anon stop “audit bashing”. Professor Bik’s words are the only supportive words I have read in a long time and I applaud them! Auditors often work unforgiving hours and as he points out they are only human so mistakes will be made. In my view auditors are not in place as a safety measure – the responsibility for honest and transparent financial reporting should lie with the company in question.

We also shouldn’t forget that auditors are not paid the same as those in other areas of finance so with the amount of negative press surrounding audit at the moment combined with the attractive salaries of corporate finance or consulting it’s no surprise that after 3 years of studying and qualifying the majority of ACA/ACCA students look to launch themselves out of audit as quickly as possible, thus draining the talent pool. And when you’re losing talent faster than you can attract it then there is the increased risk to quality.

I met with a firm recently who admitted they had previously accepted applications from candidates who required extra training support. The candidates may have had exam fails but the interviewers had identified talent which they felt they could nurture and build on. Now however, the same company cannot afford to hire those candidates in case it risks the quality of their audits due to the immense pressure from the FCA and politicians. It’s not only the candidates who are suffering the consequences but also companies who are considered ‘risky’ are struggling to attract companies to audit them for fear of bad press.

All the while, changes are being demanded by regulatory bodies (after a huge amount of investigative work) only for some politicians to disregard their recommendations as an electoral policy.

My hope is that industry leaders are listened to and improvements are made in support of the auditors who work hard to form and report an opinion on whether the financial statements prepared by directors do in fact give a ‘true and fair’ view, as required by company law, to shareholders. We all need to play our role in supporting an industry that deserves better.

Source: https://economia.icaew.com/news/november-2019/auditors-are-human-too

The passion behind “Millennials” who are voting with their feet.

We’re living in very bizarre times. Politically the world is a hugely unstable place, the Earth is losing animal species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate due to climate change and businesses are also facing their own threats. High street retail is in rapid decline, manufacturing and automotive industries are suffering and often the fingers that look for blame point directly at the auditors. They themselves have their own challenges as they try to adjust (or perhaps ‘correct’ is a better phrase) their diversity and inclusion policies as well as keep apace with new regulation. The media is full of negative stories regarding the Big4 especially but hopefully this will act as a springboard for positive change as it feels that as well as uncertainty and perhaps some fear in the air there is also hope for this positive change across Politics, the Environment and Business alike.

We should be excited for the generation currently in their teens and 20s who are driving this change and won’t stand for insufficient, inappropriate or unfair action. There are lots of articles about how Millennials are fickle and lack a strong work ethic but that is a gross generalisation and perhaps they are more fluid with their career choices because they won’t stick in a role for security if it disagrees with their own personal ethics. A jumpy CV doesn’t look great and is considered by the baby boomers as a big “no no” but the reasons behind such moves could perhaps be worth listening to before judgements are made. Times are changing and more and more people are moving and voting with their feet based on their own passions, ideals and aspirations not only for themselves but for the common good and those steps should be commended.

Lead IT Auditor, Paris

Up to €65,000 + bonus

An exciting opportunity to join a growing business with a truly global remit.

Senior/Lead Operational IT Auditor – Paris                        

Our client is a leading international IT services company specialising in hi-tech transactional services, unified communications, cloud, big data and cybersecurity services. With annual revenue of over €12billion. Serving a global client base, the Group provides Consulting & Systems Integration services, Managed Services & BPO, Cloud operations, Big Data & Cyber-security solutions.

This role is crucial in supporting the company’s market leading status. As a member of the Operations IT Audit function, you will be responsible for achieving the organisation’s goals and objectives within the challenging global environment. The business is currently experiencing an exciting period of growth and change and in order to maintain the function’s support excellence there is a requirement for an Operations IT Auditor.

Responsibilities:

•      Take end to end responsibility of the assigned audits (preparation, execution and reporting)

•      Execute the audit missions including ad-hoc requests within the team

•      Follow the audit methodology and ensure quality of deliverables

•      Add value to the audit team by knowledge sharing

•      Assign and supervise the junior team members

•      Accountable & responsible for the continuous communication with business management

•      Keep up to date with all relevant industry trends

•      Participate in the setup of the audit plan and risk assessments

•      Minimum of 3-5 years of experience as an IT internal/external auditor or comparable work related experience (Big4 background preferred)

Education:

•      A Bachelor’s degree in relevant fields such as Engineering, IT / Computer Science, Business

•      Proven certifications in IT/Internal Audit and/or other relevant qualification are an advantage. (eg. ITIL, CISA, CISM, CRISC, CISSP,CIA etc.)

Technical Skills:

•       Strong knowledge in specific area(s) such as Compliance, Information Systems

•       Technology, Operations, ITIL processes, etc.

•       In depth knowledge of IT controls (e.g. access controls, Service Management, Security, IT operations)

•       Awareness of key regulatory standards (e.g. ISO 27001, PCI DSS, GDPR, etc.)

•       Knowledge of data analytical tools is an advantage (eg. IDEA, ACL)

•       SAP knowledge is an asset either as a functional user or in-depth knowledge of the business processes supporting SAP (eg. FI, MM, SD)

•       Previous experience in following domains can be an added value: IT Services Delivery, IT Outsourcing, Mergers & Acquisitions, Cybersecurity, IT Security Management, BCM/DRP, Cloud services

 

This is a great opportunity to continue your development and learn new skills working along side talented professionals. This role is high profile and visible across the group structure, therefore offering an excellent opportunity for career development and progression within a global business.

 

Thinking about working abroad?

We live in such a globalised society where you can work anywhere in the world but what does that entail and are you ready?

The pros of working abroad are plentiful but it’s a big change – you’d be living away from friends and family and would need to build up a new support network somewhere else. Sometimes, you may need to make a lateral or even a small backward move to prove yourself in a new market.

If this doesn’t faze you and you’re thinking about moving to a new country talk it through with friends and family and even a recruiter to make sure it’s the right choice for you.

Do your research and make this decision before you apply to roles. Some processes can move very quickly and if you are not committed to the move it can feel overwhelming. If visas are involved it can also take a longer time which you also need to be prepared for.

When is a good time to go personally and professionally?

• We recently helped a family move from the UK to Australia and it worked well for them but perhaps the best time to move would be independently with few commitments such as mortgages etc

• From a professional perspective there are a lot more opportunities for newly qualified CAs than Directors so opportunities will naturally diminish as time progresses.

• We also tend to become more risk averse as time goes on.

Where?

• Research possible markets that you would like to work in and are able to? Does your firm do international transfers/secondments?

• Are you restricted by visas? If so can you seek sponsorship?

• Think about time zones, can you skype family and friends outside of working hours?

The opportunity to work abroad should never be taken for granted – it’s opening a door to a whole new set of experiences you might otherwise not get the opportunity to explore. You only get one life. Live it. Love it.

Women in Finance

The gender pay gap and the lack of women in boardrooms are topics currently dominating the headlines. Back in October last year not only was the #metoo campaign born but the UK government also launched an inquiry into the number of women working in finance.

 

Working in accountancy practice recruitment I can see there are definitely fewer women at these higher levels but why? Here are a couple of ideas why.

 

Firstly, women are less attracted to financial services as it is still viewed as a male dominated industry, so in terms of competition, there are fewer women competing for these top spots in the first place. I’d argue that in order to increase the talent pool more women need to be encouraged into financial services while still at school and choosing their AS level subjects and university courses to direct them towards completing their ACA or ACCA. Both sexes need to be educated about the different opportunities available to them and ignore any gender stereotyping.  While at school I certainly was unaware of the different types of roles available within finance. It’s not all number crunching, for example strategy, cyber security, and origination are all areas which require totally different skills sets. From a recruitment perspective it’s hard to deliver a 50% female representation for the higher grades when the pool is not split 50-50 in the first place so positive discrimination comes into play.

 

Secondly, by the time women are reaching senior manager level it coincides with the best biological window to start a family and some women decide to not return to work or to change their job to accommodate their new family. Some women are able to return to full time work again and continue to progress with only a short delay but more often than not some kind of balance is required.

 

On this point I do think the larger consultancies are working very hard to make the workplace more flexible for mothers to return to with flexi working hours, the opportunity to work from home and the ability to share maternity leave with a partner.  They appreciate that in order to retain their female staff, and in turn create a more diverse and profitable business, these benefits need to be offered. Hopefully with changes such as these and with support from the government we can expect to see more senior female leadership in financial services and beyond. Currently 205 Firms in the UK have signed up to the Women in Finance charter which pledges to have at least 30% women in senior roles by 2021 and of those, 40 firms have committed to a 50/50 gender split in senior roles by 2021 so watch this space!

Finance Transformation Manager, London (Big4)

An exciting opportunity to join a fast growing team in one of the leading professional service practices in the World.

In the Finance Transformation (FT) team of this Big 4 Management Consulting division, our client improves the effectiveness and efficiency of finance functions and generates real insights to help deliver value to their clients. Their mission is to be the leading FT practice in the UK market, to be number one in their focus markets, and to be recognised as innovators in finance technology.

The team is structured by market segment (Financial Services, Corporates and National Markets) with consultants having deep industry specific expertise. The go to market approach is business-focused and solutions are developed around client issues.  The team is therefore also structured by capability, providing specialist services and solutions such as Integrated Finance Transformation, Enterprise Performance Management, Global Business Services and Digital Labour & Automation.

Working within the FT team will provide an unparalleled opportunity to gain experience in target operating model design and implementation, finance transformation, enterprise performance management, process improvement and change management, all of which are invaluable in today’s market place.

Candidates are being sought with the skills to support growth strategy and the ability to work with leading Private Sector organisations in both the Business to Business and Business to Consumer sectors. As part of this team, you will be working with a broad range of clients from the initial diagnosis, strategy formulation and analysis, through to implementation.

 

The Role

• Engagement delivery: leading and managing projects or work-streams of small to medium size and complexity (including planning and organising work packages, overseeing data gathering and analysis, summarising insights and presenting results, owning client relationships and  preparing and chairing client meetings and workshops)

• Risk management: identifying and managing risks and ensuring the Firm’s frameworks are implemented appropriately and effectively

• People development: performance management including identifying team member development needs and accelerating development with particular emphasis on coaching and skills transfer

• Practice development: taking a leading role in processes and initiatives that are key to scaling the business and achieving our Mission Statement

• Business development: developing a strong understanding of client needs and building positive, long-standing relationships with clients through engagement delivery; identifying business development opportunities, and supporting the business development activity of senior members of the team (including shaping and presenting proposals/ bids for future work and managing proposal development activities)

 

The Person

Successful candidates should have strong finance knowledge and demonstrate the following skills / experience:

• Proven track record of working on finance improvement consulting projects, working across multiple aspects of a finance function (transaction processing, management reporting, financial accounting, planning, budgeting and forecasting), with a focus on high quality client service
• Excellent understanding of issues and challenges facing Finance functions, Finance business partnering and trends in Finance
• Experience managing teams to deliver to deadlines and required quality standards; experience developing, coaching and mentoring team members
• Excellent communicator with the personal skills to build strong and lasting internal and client relationships; and the ability to deliver clear, concise, focused messages to senior finance team members or clients
• Strong commercial and financial analytical skills with the ability to interpret data, generate insights and construct solutions.
• Impactful written communications, producing high quality, client ready outputs (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Vision etc)
• Flexibility to travel
• Relevant finance qualification – ACA, CIMA, ACCA, CIPFA or equivalent

Relevant experience in one or more of the following solution areas is required:

• Finance Transformation – leading practice insights across finance and accounting processes, operating model design, data and technology, including robotics and artificial intelligence
• Enterprise Performance Management – planning, budgeting and forecasting, management information and reporting, profitability and cost management, and performance data and analytics.
• Global Business Services – business and information technology outsourcing, shared service and global business services design, build, transition and implementation

 

Celebrating diversity in the workplace

In an age of multiculturalism and globalisation it is fantastic to see the diversity within organisations and the evermore interconnected world and economy. The nature of the workplace is changing and evolving and therefore it is important that organisations adapt to a multicultural work environment. Diversity has great potential and benefits in the global economy which means companies must look for ways to be inclusive and embrace different cultures. Within a multicultural workplace it is important to understand these differences, respect them and look at the opportunities they bring!

A diverse work culture is great because it opens up a larger pool of resources, learning styles, skills and opinions. With diversity comes different perspective on situations and different ways of solving problems, which increases the potential and scope of a company. Among employees it encourages sharing new languages, ideas and interests as well as cultural traditions or festivals. Workplace diversity can create better cultural understandings, facilitating a more worldly perspective, which is of course very valuable in the global economy. The more multicultural an organization is the more opportunities for learning and growth it has as well as having benefits of adaptability an increased respect in the workplace. Overall, by becoming more inclusive and embracing diversity we increase our capabilities not only in business but as individuals.

Here at William Scott Associates we enjoy interacting and working with people from all backgrounds from across the world. It is clear that we should celebrate diversity and difference to learn more about the amazing world around us and become more interconnected.

Ever wondered if it’s worth taking a pay cut to work for the Big4?

So you work for a mid-tier practice firm but are keen to join a Big4 but they pay less – What’s that about? And why should I take a cut??

In an ideal world you never want to take a pay cut but why should you perhaps think about it?

 

Long term gain – playing the long game both within practice and in industry.

Within practice, candidates are often seen as more valuable if they have the Big4 background. It’s a fact that the experience you gain puts you in good stead for practice roles at smaller firms. If you can handle what the top tier throw at you then you can be confident to lead the way and make positive change if you then decide to work at a mid or lower tier firm.

If industry is your end goal then we regularly place ex-practice candidates into industry roles and typically the first demand our clients make is “they should be ex-Big4”. We’re not saying that if you don’t work for a Big4 it’s impossible to secure your ideal role in industry but what we are saying is that your chances will be higher if you do and you’ll have access to a larger pool of international companies.

 

Is it really a cut?

They may initially require you to take a small cut but salaries do increase substantially as you change grade plus you have the additional bonuses, car allowance, medical, etc that come hand in hand with the infrastructure that a larger company can offer so when you add it all up the cut may actually be a gain.

You need to make the decisions that are right for you at any particular time in your career – take the time to weigh up the options, list the pros and cons and see what the long term ramifications could be – you might be surprised.

“I want to get out of audit!” If I had a £1……..

Done 3 years or more in audit and want to transition into the advisory world but don’t have the experience? I hear this a lot and genuinely am keen to help candidates make this step however it’s not easy. My best advice is to gain any experience you can within the firm you are in. Put your hand up to do an internal rotation or secondment to another team in the advisory space. One of the Big4 won’t look at vanilla audit seniors with zero TS/CF exposure for a role in those teams because they can source those people internally. So make yourself accessible within the firm you are in and network with the right people. Then once you have the experience you can look to navigate your way into a new permanent role at another firm.

If you’re looking to move countries and move from audit to advisory then I’m afraid that’s even tougher. Come over in audit then transition once you’re here otherwise your options will be incredibly slim OR transition where you are then make the geographical move with the experience you need.

This probably isn’t what you want to hear and I’m sure some will beg to differ with me but from my experience within the Big4 the above rings true. Opportunities within the mid-tier/smaller practice firms may well differ. As always if I can help you make your desired move then I will do my very best to do so. If I can’t I’ll be honest with you and try and point you in the right direction : )