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Bean counter image irks accountants

Bean counter image irks accountants

SYDNEY: Worsening economic conditions are having a negative impact on Australian accounting and finance professionals to the extent that very few are any longer interested in attaining the top…

SYDNEY: Worsening economic conditions are having a negative impact on Australian accounting and finance professionals to the extent that very few are any longer interested in attaining the top job.

According to a new survey by recruitment specialist Robert Half, just one-quarter (23 per cent) of local professionals aspire to be a chief information officer (CFO), despite an overwhelming 73 per cent reporting confidence in attaining the role given the opportunity.

Robert Half Victorian director, Andrew Brushfield, says the findings are likely a sign of the economic times, where employees have increasingly lowering expectations of job opportunities available to them.

"The economic crisis has, for the short-term, dimmed the likelihood of CFO level progression for many accountants and finance professionals," he states. "But that is not to say those in the finance field hold no optimism at all, as they are confident the CFO role would be within their reach if the opportunity was available

"The reality is that these roles are in short supply in Australia at the moment. However, we expect to see career aspirations regain momentum when the economy starts to re-stabilise."

Aspiration levels for the CFO role were also low in Hong Kong (46 per cent), Singapore (41 per cent) and New Zealand (32 per cent). They were even more dismal in places like the UK (16 per cent), Japan (16 per cent), France (14 per cent) and Netherlands (11 per cent).

The survey also found that 48 per cent of those involved in accounting and finance believe they are still most commonly seen as stereotypically boring, rather than for more desired traits such as being professional, trustworthy and commercially aware. In contrast, only 7 per cent think being described as "boring" is fair and accurate. They instead consider themselves professional (64 per cent), trustworthy (50 per cent), detail oriented (48 per cent), and commercially aware (22 per cent).

"The traditional view of accountants has been one of introverted 'bean counters' who spend all their time dealing with numbers, rather than interacting with people," Brushfield says. "The reality is that accounting and finance now covers a wide diversity of roles, going from the 'bean counter' all the way through to financial investigation, business analysis and planning, and company leadership."

- Mark Phillips

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