Do your employees understand basic financial terminology?

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Finance workers are struggling with financial terminology, with worrying results for employers.

Over half of specialised finance workers in the UK are confused by financial terminology at least once a week, according to AAT’s latest research.

Finance workers aren’t just fearful of making errors. Nearly half (47%) are worried that their lack of knowledge will result in them losing their current job. Over half (57%) wish it was easier to discuss gaps in financial knowledge with their colleagues or managers, 54% wish their workplaces provided better resources and 50% feel their workplace lacks training.

Misunderstandings are causing “serious errors”

Most concerningly, nearly half (45%) have witnessed serious errors in their workplace due to misunderstandings of basic financial terminology.

The research also reveals that two out of five (42%) UK finance workers are embarrassed to admit they don’t understand terminology at work, with many turning to tech for the answers rather than asking their workmates. Two-thirds (63%) use Google and just under half (45%) use AI/ChatGPT for answers, finding it faster and less embarrassing than asking colleagues. A further quarter (24%) regularly simply pretend to understand.

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Teams want budgeting help

It’s not only those working in finance; general UK workers also confess they find financial parts of their jobs difficult.

Over a third (37%) said they find budgeting at work extremely stressful and half (49%) wish their workplace provided better resources to help them understand terminology. Similarly to those in finance, the overwhelming majority (86%) of UK workers believe it is important to learn and understand workplace finance terminology.

“This data clearly shows that financial language, terms and phrases are a confusing minefield for thousands of finance workers,” says Anthony Clarke, Business Development Manager (Employers) at AAT.

“What’s worrying is that the majority feel a sense of taboo around reaching out to their workplaces for help, due to embarrassment or fear of losing their job, meaning employers are in the dark. “

If employers are made aware of difficulties, they can put plans into place to refresh training, upskill staff or provide more comprehensive resources.

“Ironically, it’s something that most employers are happy for their staff to do,” adds Clarke.

Help your teams to upskill

When workers stay up to date with the latest legislative and technical changes, it helps businesses be more resilient in the face of economic challenges.

AAT recommends employers talk to their staff to identify areas of need. By addressing gaps in financial knowledge in the workplace, employers can increase confidence and also minimise the risk to the business.

“The more people talk about where they need more learning, the better businesses become at upskilling their workforce,” says Clarke.

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Further information

AAT offers a wide range of accountancy and bookkeeping qualifications and CPD resources for finance professionals, as well as short courses to boost individuals’ skills in key areas of finance. Employers can find out more about CPD and development opportunities for their staff on our website.

CPD is really easy with AAT as the website is full of different kinds of training. If you’re considering using AAT for your business, I would say don’t hesitate. It gives you confidence in your staff’s knowledge and understanding of the financial regulations that are required to make your business compliant and ultimately to grow.

Sharon Challands, Derbyshire Law Centre

About the research

The research was carried out online by Opinion Matters in September this year, amongst a panel resulting in 251 UK workers responsible for accounting and finance (16+) responding.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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