A decade of opportunity ahead for the Chinese accountancy profession that’s at a turning point

A decade of opportunity for Generation Z accountancy professionals and their employers is predicted by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants) in a new report published today Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the future of accountancy.

Gathering the views of 9,000 18-25 year olds globally, including 2,127 in China, the report throws fresh light on the aspirations and fears of this up-and-coming generation, while also offering employment advice for them and employers alike.

48% of Chinese respondents see accountancy as an attractive career, providing long term prospects and portability with access to jobs that span internationally and across industries. But this is a generation concerned about the future – 64% are concerned about their wellbeing and mental health, 59% about lack of job opportunities and job security, and 42% about income inequality.

The report also reveals that as employers, the profession is missing opportunities to attract more young people to its ranks.

Gen Z in China is also broadly upbeat about the role of business, with 71% agreeing business has a positive impact on wider society and workplace 73% agree that business use technology to improve the workplace.

Jane Cheng, head of ACCA Hong Kong says: ‘Our findings present both challenges and opportunities for the accountancy profession and business in China. That’s because Gen Z will demand more accountability from the leaders of the organisations in which they work, and they’ll also have high expectations of their work-life balance and how employee welfare is managed.’

  • Chinese Generation Z is keen to get ahead: looking at their own peer group, 83% say they are ambitious to progress quickly, with the same amount saying they value flexibility and work life balance. 79% also value higher pay and a prestigious job title.
  • For those already working as accountants, 45% were drawn to it because of long term career prospects, and 42% for the opportunities to secure a professional qualification.
  • The findings are broadly similar for those respondents wanting to start a career in accountancy and finance, with 56% attracted by its long-term career prospects and 46% because they’ll become part of an established and accredited profession.

Jane Cheng concludes: ‘The world now demands more accountability and transparency – the mantra is simple: stakeholders, not just shareholders. For the accountancy profession, this represents a potential turning point and these young people will help create a workforce which is more diverse, more inclusive, and which will make businesses more cognisant of their broader role in society.’

‘Our report explains how Gen Z will bring their talent and tech know-how to the profession and change it, pursuing careers with purpose and doing jobs that make a difference. It’s a message of opportunity and positivity as we work towards to achievement in 2030 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.’

To help Gen Z navigate the future, ACCA’s report recommends ways they can future proof their own careers, and realise their career dreams as work changes:

  1. Bring your tech know-how to the organisation: you’ll be greatly prized for doing this.
  2. Work your brand internally: make work engagements more personal to build deeper relationships in the workplace.
  3. Care for your health and build resilience 
  4. Remember, it’s a team game: tech helps to build connections, and there are brilliant opportunities ahead to learn from others in the workplace.
  5. Disrupt yourself: think ‘sideways’ moves and be adaptable.
  6. Seek mentors and find sponsors: actively seeking mentors and colleagues from different generations to provide you with essential support to help ‘fill in the blanks’ and give you vital knowledge and wisdom from years of experience is very valuable.
  7. Continuously learn: this is about being future proofed, about learning new knowledge, but about being adaptable and proactive and having an open mindset to get new skills, to future proof your competence.  
  8. Recognise the importance of the “early years”: The only person ultimately accountable for your career is yourself, and as a young person entering the workforce, it’s critical to recognise the importance of the ‘early years’ in work.
  9. Build life-long networks: keep connected and build a strong external network to expand learning opportunities and new career opportunities. Time invested in important personal relationships over the long term will always pay dividends.  
  10. Pursue your dreams: the pandemic’s making many rethink careers and jobs in accountancy are changing, offering fantastic opportunities to contribute and make a difference. Pursue things that interest you, that provide purpose and career fulfilment. And even if you haven’t decided yet, finding something that interests you and at which you can become good at will reap benefits longer term.

The full report can be downloaded here: www.accaglobal.com/hk/en/professional-insights/pro-accountants-the-future/gen-z.html

For more information, please contact
Jacqueline Lam
+852 2973 1106

Notes to Editors

About Gen Z:  The generation currently aged between 10 and 25 years old consists of 1.8bn people and makes up 24% of the global population. These ‘digital natives’ have grown up with mobile, social media and, of course, the internet. They are the most globally peer-connected generation in human history entirely used to a wealth of information accessible at the press of a button or a voice command to Siri or Alexa. Their online and physical relationships blur continuously, and this ‘blurred life’ phenomenon increasingly translates to the workplace too, further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and working from home. This connectivity gives rise to an opportunity for this generation to influence and shape our futures like no other, in many different ways.

About ACCA: ACCA is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. We’re a thriving global community of 227,000 members and 544,000 future members based in 176 countries that upholds the highest professional and ethical values.

We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society that supports both public and private sectors. That’s why we’re committed to the development of a strong global accountancy profession and the many benefits that this brings to society and individuals.

Since 1904 being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. And because we’re a not-for-profit organisation, we build a sustainable global profession by re-investing our surplus to deliver member value and develop the profession for the next generation.

Through our world leading ACCA Qualification, we offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. And using our respected research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing us for tomorrow.

ACCA now has 27,000 members and 154,000 future members in China, with 11 offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Qingdao, Wuhan, Changsha, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR.

Find out more about us at www.accaglobal.com/hk
or follow ACCA Hong Kong on social media: www.facebook.com/ACCA.HongKong | www.instagram.com/acca_hk | www.linkedin.com/showcase/acca-hong-kong |

About IFAC

IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants) is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies.

Comprised of over 175 members and associates in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions, IFAC represents almost 3 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce. Over four decades, IFAC has represented the global profession and supported the development, adoption, and implementation of international standards that underpin the contributions of today’s global accountancy profession.

IFAC has maintained a long-term approach to building and strengthening a global accountancy profession that supports transparent, accountable, and sustainable organizations, financial markets, and economies. More information is here www.ifac.org

"Our findings present both challenges and opportunities for the accountancy profession and business in China. That’s because Gen Z will demand more accountability from the leaders of the organisations in which they work, and they’ll also have high expectations of their work-life balance and how employee welfare is managed."

Jane Cheng, head of ACCA Hong Kong