ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.
In this ‘Insights In Focus’ episode, we discuss ways to attract and retain talent in the accounting profession.

Host 

Philippa Lamb 

Guests 

  • Gillian Woolman, Audit Director, Audit Scotland 
  • Dave Payne, Head of Access and Volunteer Programmes, ICAEW 
  • Jackie Crane, ICAEW member and former practising accountant 

Transcript

Hello and welcome to Insights In Focus. I’m Philippa Lamb. How appealing is a career in accountancy? Last year saw graduate intake to UK accountancy fall for the first time since 2008. And job applications across the whole sector reportedly dropped by over a third compared to 2021. Now, of course, that fall came as a raft of challenges rocked the wider labour market, and job vacancies soared to their highest number in a generation. Nevertheless, questions remain about how people now perceive accountancy as a career, and whether they see it as a rewarding long-term option.  

To dig into those questions, I’m joined by Gillian Woolman, Audit Director at Audit Scotland, Dave Payne, ICAEW Head of Access and Volunteer Programmes, and Jackie Crane, a qualified accountant who left the profession three years ago, having fallen out of love with accountancy as a long-term career option.  

Dave, graduate intake dipped in 2022, for the first time since the financial crisis. Obviously, UK employment more broadly was a huge issue – there is considerable pressure in the job market and all employers and sectors are having to fight for talent. But what are the specific issues that have hit accountancy? Has Brexit been an issue? 

Dave Payne: Yes, definitely. Brexit has been an issue in that where, previously, European students studying at universities in the UK could have quite easily gone into accountancy job vacancies, there is now a visa process for them to go through, the same as it is for rest of the world. So that process is not as easy as being treated the same as a UK citizen, pre-Brexit. And because the process is more difficult, it’s just less attractive and anecdotally we see fewer numbers coming through. Coupled with that, we’ve obviously had the pandemic. I think that’s prompted probably two things. It’s seen a re-evaluation by some within the profession of whether they would like to change and having the opportunity to do that, having time to think at home time – perhaps on furlough in certain cases – they’ve had time to evaluate. And then also people moving within the sector. So where they may be working in public practice, for example, in professions like audit, perhaps they’re moving more to the industry side – working directly for businesses – or vice versa, for that matter. That increase in movement between roles, or the ‘great resignation’, as they called it, has led to shortages of people within the roles ready to do the work., because there’s always that lull between someone coming into a role and actually being up to speed, ready and working at full capacity. 

PL: We’ll get deeper into all those issues. But before we do that, I am keen to hear from Gillian and Jackie, about their decisions to stay and to leave accountancy respectively. Gillian, you’re with Audit Scotland; how long have you worked in audit? 

Gillian Woolman: I’ve been working in audit since 1986, so 37 years. 

PL: And why have you stayed so long? Is public sector work particularly rewarding for you? 

GW: I have found, through a career in audit, that I have had tremendous variety. I trained in the private sector in financial services. When the Berlin Wall came down there was a shortage of English-speaking accountants in Europe, so I was immediately picked up by KPMG Brussels. I moved to Geneva and I was soon working on the audits of former Soviet state enterprises – as in the former nations – so the oil and gas as it was explored there. I returned to the UK and joined the NHS – I loved being part of the NHS as a chief internal auditor for a consortium of NHS bodies. Then when the Scottish Parliament was set up, Audit Scotland was formed, somebody reached out to me and I joined as an audit director in 2001. It’s a rule I have had all these years that every five years we change our audit portfolio. So my work has taken me up to the Orkneys, down to the borders, Glasgow’s and Edinburgh’s creative arts, police, justice, the NHS – I think audit has provided me with tremendous variety and I’ve loved that. 

PL: You’re a walking advert for the profession. I can see why you stayed. 

GW: Even earlier today, I’ve been in a virtual meeting with the NHS in the Western Isles. And somebody was participating from Hobart, Tasmania. It’s amazing the changes we’re seeing – quite recently as well – but I am missing my Loganair flights to the Outer Isles, which are an absolute privilege. 

PL: It sounds fantastically varied, fantastically rewarding. I can absolutely see why you’ve stayed. But Jackie, you came to a different decision, didn’t you? What was your experience of working in accountancy? 

Jackie Crane: Although I have left the profession, I absolutely loved being a chartered accountant. I’ve been in the profession for 13 years, and I actually made the move back to audit, because that is what I enjoyed doing. I did have a few different roles: I was in accounts for small businesses, then audit, then tax, then internal tax technical support. I did some career coaching then I thought no, audit is the thing for me.  

But what made me make that decision in the end was the culture of the place. I found it really hard to know what was expected – what was too much, what was too little. So I ended up having to do quite a lot of work. I probably worked 60/70-hour weeks, and I just thought, I’m not having a life here. I did a very back-of-the-fag-packet calculation and thought if I did those hours in a warehouse, I wouldn’t be that far off what I was getting paid. So I thought I’d rather do loads of hours in a warehouse, come home and not think about work, than have to destroy myself. 

PL: So you did a very pragmatic re-evaluation of what work was doing for you. Without wanting to get into specifics I can see you weren’t happy where you were working – but did you not think about getting a different job rather than leaving the profession? 

JC: I was with the first firm for 10 years. Then I moved firms, and I was there for a year and a half but it was the same thing, really. I gave them a list of things I was struggling with, and what I needed from them, but nothing changed, so I was going to leave and go to a warehouse. But then a client offered me a job as a finance manager, so I tried that for a bit, and thought, “This is as chaotic as it was doing an audit.” So I thought I just need a break from the profession completely. 

PL: Do you see yourself going back at any stage? 

JC: It would have to be a very special company. 

PL: It’s disappointing, isn’t it, to hear about that experience? Should we go back to the beginning and talk about attracting talent into the profession, and into audit in particular? A lot of work has been done on outreach, for example? 

DP: IACW itself does some work around this – but so do many employers. I think, regarding Jackie’s point, perhaps what was sold wasn’t necessarily the reality when people came in. But I think Gillian’s identified that there are loads of great things about working in accountancy and audit: getting to work with lots of different organisations, businesses working in teams – it’s a really dynamic profession, one that’s at the forefront of things like financial technology, looking at sustainable accounting and how businesses can plan for net zero and account for more sustainability. So not just looking at pure profit, but looking at things like environmental and social impact as well, those sustainable businesses that we want to grow in the UK and everywhere. 

PL: But it is about getting people through the door in the first place, isn’t it? Routes of entry? 

DP: Oh, absolutely. I’ve worked at ICAEW for about 10 years. In that time, we’ve seen a huge growth in the amount of people coming in via a school leaver route – that now makes up around 25% of UK intake, coming via school rather than through a graduate route. That’s an enormous change, and it’s been fuelled partly by growth in the apprenticeships and things like the apprenticeship levy as well.  

Then, to your point about outreach – we’ve had to reach into schools earlier so people are aware and ready for those opportunities. There’s been an increase in year 12 – in particular with work experience schemes from a number of firms and businesses so that on day one, that individual was potentially more prepared for the training contract they may be on. I can think of outreach competitions and workshop sessions with schools – all sorts of stuff – that’s definitely increased alongside the classic graduate recruitment. On campus, the careers fairs still exist, people still go on the milk round as it’s called, because you tour around all the universities with your banner and your brochures. But I think the other thing we’ve seen change in outreach, as a result of the pandemic when we couldn’t get on campus or into schools, is the digital channels. There’s been a huge rise in social media activity and different social media channels. Ten years ago, Facebook advertising was just coming out, whereas now Facebook still exists but you’re looking much more at things like Instagram, even TikTok and the like. 

PL: With a recruitment market as competitive as we’re now in, should accountancy be looking at older recruits? Career changes, retraining – it’s not been a huge part of the sector so far, has it? 

DP: Certainly not from ICAEW’s perspective. A large number of our students are 18-24/26. So either straight from school or post-university degree. That said, I think two things probably will impact this in the future. I think we will see a growth in those coming to the profession later in life, first because of the opening up of the apprenticeship levy – when it first came in, it was restricted to perhaps younger people, but now it’s open to people at all stages of life. Then there’s the government’s commitment, coupled with that, to lifelong learning and retraining for various skills so the economy is modern and has the right skills available for it to grow.  

Then, going back to the points around Brexit and the pandemic, we’ve seen perhaps a reduction in the size of the talent pool available to employers. How can you widen that? I think there’s a necessity for organisations to look at different age groups, because that automatically increases the size of that talent pool. 

PL: There’s quite a lot of complexity and challenge in that for employers? 

DP: We have employers with intakes right up into the thousands, and right down into the ones, and it’s both easier and harder to be flexible around training requirements – how long it takes, the route they take, whether they want a break in the middle. Then there’s the funding when you’re dealing with lots of moving parts: the cost implications, resource implications for all of those things. That said, it’s balancing that cost and resource against the flexibility that the individual may want, when they’re going through the training. 

PL: Extending that idea, how well do you think the profession is doing on diversity in its widest sense? 

DP: I think it’s doing a reasonable job. Could it do better than most business sectors in the UK? Could they do better? The answer is probably yes. If you look at the ethnic diversity of the accountancy intake, we would say we perform well in certain ethnicities and less well in others. If we look at gender diversity, there have been improvements, but it’s still not 50:50 and some would argue that it needs to be something like 55:45, because the HESA (higher education statistics agency) data is around 55:45. When HESA looks at university population, it’s about 42:58, for our student population in the UK. And so still some way to travel.  

It’s interesting with some diversity and inclusion work to see how much an employer or a sector can change themselves, and our societal phenomena or societal characteristics – at what age our attitudes around certain careers, job sectors and employers are formed. 

PL: And they can be fixed very young, can’t they?  

DP: Yes, absolutely. There’s research to show that for some people whose parents went to university, the decision as to whether they will end up at university may even be made before they’ve gone to school. Whereas for those whose parents haven’t gone to university, maybe that decision point is much later, in secondary school. So yes, attitudes can be formed very, very young. And outreach to a nursery, giving them information about accountancy, probably isn’t something I’d see either employers or us doing! 

PL: I can see the difficulties there! Children – very young children – have been surveyed to demonstrate quite clear ideas about what sex you need to be to be a nurse or a doctor or an engineer, and it’s disappointing, but it’s still the case, isn’t it? So with accountants, what is the image of the profession? Does audit have an image problem? 

GW: First of all, talking about recruitment, we definitely have the opportunity – and we have been very successful – to recruit people who have done a degree at the age of 40 and have decided to train as an accountant at that stage. There has been a lady who’s brought up her family, and we’ve recruited people who have come back into the profession, having perhaps been a ‘trailing spouse’ and lived overseas for a number of years. We feel very, very privileged that these people are looking to join us. They are a tremendous asset. We were recruiting to our Aberdeen office and were very successful in securing permanently a lady who had trained with ICAEW in Malaysia and is absolutely thrilled to have found that her ICAEW qualification from Malaysia has been celebrated; we were delighted to have her join us.  

Like all public sector bodies, we have a duty to mainstream equality. So for many years now we have had equality outcomes, which we report on every two years. We give a lot of time to our diversity statistics, and we’ve done our gender pay gap and diversity reports on an annual basis. So I absolutely support David’s observations about how well we’re doing in a number of areas. But the point about generating those reports is to set new targets or new ambitions. In particular, for instance, we are very keen to be reaching out and ensuring we’re giving every opportunity for less able-bodied people to become Chartered Accountants with us and we train all of our people through ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland). We tend to have a 48-month contract, and for the first 12 months it’s just in-house training, before we then send them off on their contracted hours with ICAS. So there’s a tremendous amount going on here. I feel, and I hope, your readers would be encouraged by all that. 

PL: What sort of numbers are we talking about?  

GW: We now have over 300 people, we just recently passed that, in the public sector Audit Agency for Scotland. In terms of our gender split, we are – off the top my head – 51% female, 49% male. We currently have Stephen Boyle as the Auditor General and prior to him it was Caroline Gardner, who held that post for eight years. So we feel, certainly with respect to gender, we have a very good balance. And as David has already mentioned, with respect to ethnic minorities, we’re above the national average as a profession that they choose to go down. 

I’m dismayed by Jackie’s experiences in the audit profession. I do think there are some traditional structures out there, where there’s maybe a bit of an imbalance between revenue streams and supporting your staff. The idea of doing 60 to 70 hours is not sustainable if you are to get to the very best commitment and loyalty and motivation. In public sector audit, we’re very keen on growing our own and retaining our own, and we provide tremendous variety thereafter. Today in Scotland, the headlines are on the NHS Overview report that the auditor general published today. [This shows] you don’t have to spend all 40 years doing financial auditing; we would use your skill set for data analysis, statistics and performance analysis, to look at public service delivery into a whole variety of things. Your earlier conversation about how we give people the tools to have the very best professional lives was interesting – we will be publishing a report on early learning and childcare shortly. There’s just a huge variety, and I think that attracts a huge range of people and retains them, knowing that they have such variety. 

PL: Would you say that the nature of the work you do makes it easier for you than, say, the big firms to offer a much more varied career to the people who join you? The sort of opportunity you’re offering isn’t scalable, is it, for the large firms? 

GW: I think the large firms – and I have worked with two of the Big Four – would say they do have variety these days, but it doesn’t touch upon the public services to the depth that we do. I’m sure they have their management and consultancy divisions and things like that. But we form relationships; for my financial audit appointments, we’re with those clients for five years. Then we leave because it’s a forced rotation, so you really get out and about. So you know whether any recommendations you make are sensible or not, whether they’re affordable or not, whether they’re going to really have that traction and make the difference that you want to see in public services. I think that’s a really motivating aspect. 

PL: Shall we move on to retention? Because, as with legal qualifications, accountancy is a highly transferable skill set. Do we know much about why people leave to go into other sectors? 

DP: The answer is, I think, that we need to do some more work on understanding why people are leaving, especially in a post-Brexit, or certainly post-pandemic world. I think Jackie raised a really interesting point around work/life balance and culture. Often those working hours and conditions are potentially having an impact on people wanting a better work/life balance, and they don’t see that it’s available to them within the profession. Another thing which is having, or potentially having, an impact on the attractiveness of audit is how audit has been in the news – I think it was the five-year anniversary of collapse of Carillion recently? 

PL: So trust is an issue? Is that what you’re talking about? 

DP: Absolutely. It’s almost how the profession is viewed externally, and if you’re working in it, you pick up this. You’re tarnished by what is actually a relatively low number of collapses, but they’re high-profile, and they make the news. If you looked at them as a percentage of all audits that took place, it will be a very low percentage that haven’t been done to the necessary standard. But then they pick up news such as Carillion, Patisserie Valerie and so on. That’s what people notice. That’s what’s reported in the news. Then, if you’re in audit, it’s like, can you never get audit right? It’s resulting in these corporate collapses. And you’re guilty or tarnished by association to a certain extent.  

As a result, we’re seeing increased regulation, which is probably the right thing because we need to make sure these things happen even less frequently. But that increased regulation comes with increased pressure internally for individuals working on audit – and other clients, for that matter. But within professional services firms of all sizes, more regulation means more work, then increased hours and so on – it snowballs. I’d state some of those reasons as potentially why we’ve seen the drop in attractiveness that’s generally been reported to us – and, perhaps, why some people like Jackie leave the profession. 

PL: Jackie, you described some managerial issues in terms of sheer hours that you were having to put in. But thinking about things like career progression and personal development, do you think accountants are being clear enough that they want to develop and push their people to achieve everything they can? 

JC: I think in-house, in the companies that I’ve worked for, no. I think in ICAEW, yes. I’ve grown quite a lot in the last 13 years and being involved with ICAEW I’ve met some very like-minded people who want to make the world better, improve the way things are done. I think that was a big part of my self-development, but internally –on the day-to-day job, it was very much “Get your work done.” 

PL: So managers not using coaching as part of their management style? 

JC: Definitely.  

PL: I was looking at some research from the Chartered Management Institute on this and they were talking about accidental managers – the sense that people get promoted, but not necessarily trained or equipped to run teams and manage people properly. The number they put on it was 80% of managers in the UK – across all sectors – that they described as accidental managers. Gillian, do you think that’s an issue, not enough training for people to manage the people below them and to develop them? 

GW: My own experience was largely very, very well supported. But I have come across environments, quite a few times – and maybe this chimes with Jackie’s experience – where there’s quite a macho environment, quite a lot of presenteeism and an expectation that you would spend very long hours there. One of the wonderful things about going overseas was seeing the different cultures. When I worked in Belgium, my Flemish colleagues worked really, really hard. But they came in on the dot and they left on the dot – men and women all had responsibilities with respect to their families, and they all enjoyed smallholdings. Whereas the expatriates tend to linger a long time, but there was a bit of mucking around going on in the office. I really respected my Flemish colleagues for getting the right work-life balance. That was in the early Nineties, and it has never left me. So there is something about being a good example to all your colleagues – about going home and being a good citizen and having other duties like being a scout leader, and so on. Maybe we are not seeing enough of that in some of the high-pressured environments. 

PL: Dave, we haven’t talked about hybrid working. In the past that might have been seen as a workplace benefit. Now, it’s generic – the majority of employers are now offering flexible working or hybrid working in some form. It brings me to the question of how significant reward is. Historically, reward has not been top of the list when people think about choosing a sector or choosing to move or stay in a job. But we are in a cost-of-living crisis. Is it your sense that it’s become a more significant factor for people? 

DP: If we look at research with current graduates and school leavers, we’ve seen a trend over the past five years, certainly, that pay and reward have become less of a priority. They’ve been substituted by things like work/life balance, flexibility, the interesting nature of the work, the values of the company – and coupled with that is diversity and inclusion, and having a purpose, doing good, contributing. I think some of that’s been fuelled, or even more fuelled, by the pandemic, where we’ve seen a real increase in those interested in public sector work.  

Actually, as a sector that’s shot up. The example I’ll give you is the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers: for many, many years, professional services firms came very high and they still do perform really well – PwC was number one, I think, for a number of years in a row. Two or three years ago, I think, the Civil Service Fast Stream took over, and the NHS became more prominent as well. So there’s been a shift there, at least in what students are telling us. Generationally, we know there’s a difference with Generation Y – or millennials, some people call them – who are probably in their mid-career stage at the moment with young families, perhaps bigger bills, mortgages, and we know historically that they were more interested in pay and reward when they were graduates as well.  

So is the focus on pay and rewards? We did see, during the great resignation, there was almost a sort of pay war for talent, which is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, so we’ve not got the talent available to us. And there were anecdotally stories of people being offered more and more money to move around, because a business needed the person with those skills. But I do think that was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. And I think only certain employers can offer those sorts of things, so others have to think a bit more cleverly about how they compete.  

We do know that that generation perhaps is more interested in pay and benefits as a priority over other stuff. So will we see that change, in 10 years’ time when Gen Zed is in that mid-career stage – in 10 to 15 years’ time? Is it an acute issue that’s driven by the cost-of-living crisis, as you say, where bills and everything are going up, so you need to be paid more. And as a result, you’re less bothered about whether it’s interesting work, or you’ve got purpose? Because you’ve got ends to meet, you’ve got mouths to feed? And will we see that drop off as a result –hopefully – of coming out of it? I don’t know that anyone knows the answer to those questions. I’m not sure we will know, after the fact, and certainly not immediately. But they are all factors which are affecting things.  

As for hybrid working, you’re right, it’s become a hygiene factor. So now, it’s the exception that it’s not hybrid working. I know other employers are looking at the purpose of the work and trying to push that forward within a package, and thinking about four-day weeks or compressed hours as well. It’s certainly something we’ve seen rise in prominence. And how does a business compete if it doesn’t have the ability to raise wages? I think you’ve got to be clever. I think it’s probably the point that Jackie and Gillian have both made – you’ve got to have a good working culture, you sell yourselves on the value and the purpose of your business, and more so than just that mercenary aspect of pay. 

PL: Jackie, these are quite intangible things, aren’t they, compared to the old days of who’s paying the most, which package looks the most attractive? Things like purpose, things like whether organisations and employers are living their values? It’s all about authenticity, isn’t it? Because everyone’s website says the right thing. But that sceptical sense, of whether they’re actually delivering? 

JC: Yes, that’s something I struggled with. When I moved, I’d been at a firm for 10 years, and I did quite a lot of research, looked at loads of social media for the company I moved to, and it all looked brilliant. But it just wasn’t. It was better in terms of culture, but it still wasn’t where they were saying it was, and I think it’s very frustrating. What Dave was just saying about different things being more important, like culture and purpose – those are all the things that ultimately made me leave the profession because, to me, the pay didn’t really matter. As long as I had enough money to live, I was happy. But all those other things were what was getting me down, 

PL: So not just about long hours, it really was that sense of whether this is an organisation that’s socially useful, that I want to be involved with, that I want to spend my time with? 

JC: Yes: does it fit with me? Are they making a difference to other people? Are they being inclusive, especially with mental health, disabilities and neurodivergence? I’d often see people dismissed – not as in fired, let go, but dismissed as in sidelined – because they weren’t picking something up. People didn’t try and help anyone else to learn something in a different way or support them in a different way, because there was so much focus on just getting the work done. 

PL: Gillian, it’s a much more complex landscape for employers, now? 

GW: I think, you know, as Jackie and David have articulated, young people joining the profession rightly have greater, wider and more varied expectations of the environment they’re going to join. And earlier you mentioned ensuring that managers have the right tools. In our organisation, we have refreshed our training so that managers can opt in and out of a whole series of different training sessions. And neurodiversity – this is something that is new, and that has also come on to our agenda, to ensure we support everyone to give of their very best, and that we benefit from all the different skills and talents people bring to us. So challenging times, but I think it’s all heading in the right direction, 

PL: Authenticity around values, though, is a hard thing to demonstrate consistently? 

GW: In the public sector, we all sign up to a code of conduct and the Nolan values of honesty, integrity, object, objectivity – and we all have a chance to participate in risk assessments about what’s going on in the public sector, such that we drive out a programme of performance audits, and everyone really cares about the topics that we’re covering, whether it’s adult mental health services, whether it’s the affordability of the ferry services in the Northern Isles – all those things. That’s all on top of the financial audits.  

But even coming back to the financial audits, which is more straightforward, when I questioned in the city chambers in Edinburgh the level of debt the council was carrying, and the affordability of it, that’s front page of the evening news. So you’re working in environments where people really care. And that’s a good thing, I think, in terms of motivating you, and knowing that your work is of consequence.  

PL: Dave, what are your hopes for this year’s graduate intake numbers? Both into ICAEW and into the profession generally?  

DP: For ICAEW, while overall numbers into the profession may have fallen, we actually saw an increase compared to 2021 in our intake. I would say that was driven particularly by the larger employers. Outside of those larger employers, it’s sort of break-even /dropped a little bit, and I think economic factors were affecting that. Our hope is that we see those numbers stay steady, and certainly not drop off; we’re not expecting there to be a significant drop-off. What I would say is, I think people are finding it harder to recruit for talent. We’re seeing fewer applications per job role, which is not necessarily a bad thing, because it makes your pipeline more efficient. But when it does become a bad thing is if you’re not getting sufficient applicants of quality. So will employers have to provide more support to people to get through the recruitment process? Or is there a recruitment process issue and that’s why they’re not getting through but actually, once they come into the profession, they’ll be OK. Or will there need to be more investment in supporting them – you accept a lower threshold in your recruitment process, but you put more effort into supporting those individuals to then become qualified. That’s something I don’t know.  

Just one of the consequences of the pandemic is that we have students hitting the job market now, who may not have sat public examinations since their A levels. So all through university, they haven’t sat in in the exam hall, haven’t sat a public examination. Now, to qualify as an accountant, you need to pass some examinations. And if that base exam technique isn’t there, will it become more difficult, and so will ICAEW – and our employers – have to put more effort into supporting those students to make up that skill gap? So there are questions like that, that we don’t know the answers to, but could prove to become issues as we exit from the pandemic. And not immediately in the year after, but three – five – years after. 

PL: Gillian, we’ve been talking about strategies for bringing people into the profession, keeping them in the profession. But is that actually the end game that accountancy should be looking at? It’s a natural progression for people to move into other areas, isn’t it? 

GW: I chose accountancy because I wanted it as a passport for travel. And it was a passport for travel – I had fantastic time in Brussels and Geneva – but it was also a passport to other sectors. So despite training in the private sector and in financial services, it was terrific for joining the National Health Service, who were at the forefront of corporate governance. And thanks to our training through ICAEW, we’re really expert in that area as well, and that’s what they were looking for. And then I happen to choose to go into the public sector and I remained as an auditor, but I know that we in Audit Scotland are always very delighted when somebody who’s trained and qualified with us, goes forward and joins a public sector organisation, working their way through the finance function and rising to becoming the statutory officer or the Director of Finance. That’s a great foundation, I think, for many different careers, and for running businesses, for being chief executives – we know that’s reflected in the FTSE 100 figures. 

PL: That’s an optimistic note to close on. The next insights podcast will follow the Spring Budget on March 15. The panellists from our recent Christmas and New Year episodes, ICAEW’s Ian Wright, Santander UK’s Frances Haque and David Williamson of the Sunday Express will be back with us to dissect how the Chancellor’s announcements will affect the UK economy and indeed finance professionals in particular. Later in March, we’ll be bringing you the next In Focus podcast exploring public sector audit and assurance at local authority level. 

}
}