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Do ALL businesses really require a ‘Qualified’ Accountant?

Within any small to medium sized business, one of the most important hires you will make is the recruitment of a Finance person.  They can be crucial to the success of the organisation and their insight is often relied upon by the Owner/CEO as the basis for many decisions. In short, they are crucial to the business.

When somebody from a SME contacts us about recruiting for a Finance role, one of the first things they state is that they want somebody with the skills and experience needed to fit into their business. They also want somebody who will fit in with the culture of the organisation. This is not unreasonable. In fact, it is extremely sensible.

However, often, the first thing we see on a job description are not these things laid out, but a simple phrase, which could mean that you overlook the best person for the role: “must be a qualified Accountant.”

Why is this? Simply put there is a common misunderstanding about the role of an Accountant and the qualification process.

To be a successful Accountant, you need to have the technical ability. It is true that this is often tested through examinations, but it does not have to be. And this knowledge is not the only thing that makes for a successful professional. The ability to apply knowledge to any circumstance, understanding the nuances of a business or sector, the ability to engage with all stakeholders, and above all somebody who can carry the confidence of the owners/board are just as vital, if not more so. None of these can be reasonably tested through examination.  They come from experience.

In this regard a QBE (qualified by experience) Accountant could be what most SME businesses need.

Many of those who are considered as QBE, have studied part of the examinations, and for whatever reason have not completed them. Others simply have not undertaken formal examination. They are not failed Accountants, as some like to characterise, in fact far from it.  They are business professionals in their own right with enviable experience; experience that could just make your business flourish even further.

If a QBE has the necessary experience, is fully referenced, has had their accounts signed off by the Auditors year after year (which can be verified), then you will have not only limited your risk, but opened up your talent pool.

So when you are looking to hire an Accountant for your business, start thinking about what is important. Is a professional qualification really the most important thing? Or do you need someone who can come in, understand the sector, drive your business forward and help you grow?