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A new generation of accountants

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 01 Nov 2022

New Gen Accountants launched in 2018 with a mission to ensure that the accountancy profession accurately reflects the society we live in, including all races, classes and backgrounds. For Black History Month, ICAEW supported its relaunch event.

“There’s a lack of Black partners and senior leaders, and that shouldn’t be the case. Firms and companies are hiring Black talent but aren’t retaining them, or they’re not making it up the ladder. According to 2021 research by Green Park, there were no Black CEOs, CFOs or chairs in the FTSE 100 firms,” says Ellice Kenlock, who was appointed Co-Chair of New Gen Accountants (NGA) along with Daniel Hart in April this year.

The pair aim to use their platform to drive change within the accountancy profession. NGA amplifies Black voices in accountancy, offering guidance and support to ensure Black accountants thrive in the industry.

Currently, the NGA community is accessible internationally, with members across the UK, Caribbean and Africa. Although their demographic is predominantly Black, membership is open and they welcome anyone to join. 

Kenlock is an ICAEW member and began as a trainee at PwC and Mazars. In 2019 she came across NGA via social media. “I initially went to one of their events and later, during the pandemic, I saw an opportunity to help with their newsletter. As members of the original team were leaving, there was room for me to get more involved – and then Daniel joined.”

Hart heard about NGA through a webinar with Kaplan and maintained a relationship with the founder. Joining NGA allowed him to connect with Black role models, which he wasn’t used to seeing. “At my company (MHA MacIntyre Hudson) there was one Black partner. Seeing other Black people within NGA succeeding in the profession has been really encouraging for me.”

Growing the existing membership is part of NGA’s strategy – so far this has been an organic process through word of mouth and using social media platforms to attract young professionals has proved successful. Kenlock explains: “We have a five-year plan, and that includes figuring out our metrics and targeting new members. We already have a big following on social media – more than 2, 500 across our LinkedIn, Instagram and WhatsApp groups.”

NGA is made up of aspiring accountants, trainees and qualified accountants. It takes a collaborative approach to learning, offering a study group, CV help sessions and vital resources for junior members and valuable career advice for qualified members. “We need more representation, and that starts with encouraging young people,” says Hart. “Students need to believe in themselves and have the right support along their career journey.”

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Kenlock and Hart say they have noticed a change in the way firms approach diversity and inclusion (D&I). “There’s a willingness for conversation that wasn’t there before, and hopefully long-term actions,” says Kenlock. 

“People want to be allies, but at partner level there’s still a disparity,” adds Hart. 

ICAEW supports the work NGA is doing for the profession. D&I continues to be a priority for ICAEW, particularly improving Black representation through its Black Members Community and commitment to the 10,000 Black Interns programme. For Kenlock, the collaboration is beneficial for everyone. “The relationship between NGA and ICAEW is very important to us. It gives us visibility as a small community and helps ICAEW in terms of achieving meaningful action. Overall, it’s helped us to think bigger.

“Going forward we’d like to get involved in ICAEW’s Black Members Community and collaborate on future projects. ICAEW has the insights and access to the people we need, and we can provide the right audience.”

Dr Antonia Sudkaemper, ICAEW’s Diversity and Inclusion Manager, says: “We have long been partnered with NGA and are honoured they chose to collaborate with us for their relaunch. The community’s mission aligns perfectly with our own goal of attracting diverse talent to the profession, and our initiatives supporting Black Heritage students throughout their accountancy careers. We are looking forward to future collaborations with NGA.”

There were 50 attendees at NGA’s relaunch event on 27 October. It was a space to network and meet like-minded accountants and industry professionals. There were panel discussions about changes to the profession following the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests; perspectives on work-life balance as a parent; being your authentic self at work; and advice for trainee accountants. 

Attendees were happy to discuss the benefits of being involved with NGA. Duncan, an NGA member, says: “I heard about NGA through ICAEW and joined a month ago. Some of the messages tonight resonated with me; the panellists had been offered great opportunities and wanted to give back. I have a similar story. I hope I can pay it forward.” 

“Ellice is my mentor and helped me get onto ICAEW’s internship programme this summer,” says Fego. “As a recent graduate, the event has given me food for thought. Hearing more about what the ACA/ACCA qualification entails and what opportunities are available to me was beneficial.”

Aminat is studying and working in industry. Seeing other NGA members progress encourages her to keep striving for success: “I’ve never met such an inspiring group of people from humble beginnings who’ve done so well. We can all do it.”

To find out more about NGA, visit their website, or follow on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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