How AAT’s new strategy works for you

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AAT’s community is driving the new strategy of producing ‘real world ready’ finance professionals and boosting careers into 2030.

Securing Future Relevance is AAT’s blueprint to create a bold and ambitious future for accounting technicians. It’s folded into our brand refresh, showcasing the message that AAT accountants and finance professionals are ‘real world ready’.

“We are looking to broaden our community and the impact they have on a global stage. Outside the UK, the contribution of accounting technicians is not well known, therefore the value they can and do bring to employers and economies isn’t well known either.”

AAT CEO Sarah Beale MAAT

This vision is going to be driven by the AAT community, not pure commercial ambition, or growth for growth’s sake. The community is – and will remain – made up of people like our Impact Award winners.

“We’re so proud of our Impact Award winners – they, and many others in the AAT community, are unsung heroes. They bring to life what our strategic plan is about,” says AAT President Christina Earls. She adds, “Council has agreed AAT’s priorities and strategy to keep accounting technicians relevant. As AAT develops the business plan, we’ll oversee the process to ensure the interests of those winners – indeed, our whole AAT community and the accounting profession – continue to be well served.”

AAT: Securing future relevance

We have a new strategic plan to secure a bold and ambitious future for accounting technicians. Read more in our digital guide.

Read the plan

Themes of future relevance

What do those priorities look like? The strategic plan to 2030 focuses on three key themes:

  • Keeping the profession relevant
  • Driving up professional standards
  • Building responsible business.

Impact on public affairs

To achieve the 2030 plan, AAT will ramp up its activity in shaping political and public opinion. “We’re going to start influencing policy around education and build on the successes we have had to date influencing policy and initiatives impacting the profession. We are going to amplify this activity. As a result, members and the general public will hear much more about the body of people we represent and the changes we have driven on their behalf,” says Beale.  

AAT also wants to reach more employers. Armed with the strapline that AAT produces ‘accountants for the real world’, AAT will be talking more assertively about the role of accounting technicians, alongside other accountants.   

“We want global recognition for technicians so that employers understand they needn’t always have a chartered accountant as the only accountant in the building. [Chartered] is a different skill set serving a very valuable purpose. But on a broad scale and at a practical level, it’s AAT members and AAT’s offer that could fulfil a very productive role for employers.”

Impact for members

Of course, the effect of Securing Future Relevance will be felt internally, not just in the wider world. Members will notice differences, even though we want the organisation to feel the same in many ways.  

‘Change will never be this slow again’ has become a popular saying to reflect the increasingly unpredictable nature of the world. Many things about the profession and the economy could feel different by the end of the decade. AAT’s mission will be to keep members and the profession ahead of the curve. 

“We want to look after the careers of our community from beginning to end, from an invoice clerk at Level 2 to a bookkeeper right up to full MAAT status and even CFO material. Their needs will change throughout their journey. That’s why AAT needs to adapt.”

AAT President Christina Earls

This is where AAT will put the community front and centre. Earls explains “There are two big themes to community. One is about making sure membership offers the greatest value possible – anticipating what the community needs, perhaps before they realise it. The second is providing it in the way they want it, by offering them a chance to influence that decision.”  

That might look like a forum for students, peer-to-peer networking for bookkeepers, and CPD covering emerging skill requirements from analytics to leadership. And all, of course, delivered in modern, accessible ways. New membership pathways and designation positions are under development to deliver better opportunities and create a level playing field, as well as increased public trust and confidence.

An early example is looking at ways to get unregulated accountants into the AAT fold, balancing their desire for experience to be recognised against AAT’s absolute refusal to create a route that would devalue membership.

Digital first, but not exclusively

With an eye on efficiency and sustainability, AAT needs to take advantage of technology and automation. Enter the new ‘digital-first’ policy. Note, the policy will not mean digital only. “We will assume digital first, then test that assumption to see if that is the right choice at that time,” says Beale. “Digital delivery means we don’t have to go around the world building offices investing in expensive and fixed infrastructure. It’s a much more logical and agile way to expand.” 

This of course feeds into the Building Responsible Business pillar. However, this theme is not just about sustainability, nor just about jumping on the green bandwagon.

Responsible business

“Responsible business is about doing the right thing for society. That of course means reducing your carbon footprint, such as travelling and printing less. But we are absolutely entrenched in accessibility. Therefore, Building Responsible Business means opening up careers and opportunities to a cohort of society that would otherwise be lost,” says Beale.  

Building Responsible Business will also involve working hard for better representation for underrepresented groups, including at senior level. AAT has long been passionate about this, but recognises as an organisation it needs to improve too. So, it has chosen to make itself accountable through target setting and voluntary reporting.  

When it comes to sustainability, Beale promises, “We will encourage critical thinking in the green agenda. We want our members to challenge appropriately. Rather than say is this the right process to follow, we want then to ask – is this the right thing to do?”  

She notes wryly that a huge proportion of large businesses have signed up to net zero, even though people are still debating how to define and measure it. Bringing together aims and influence, this is an example of how a forward-looking, future-ready AAT could make a real world impact: “We should have a role in saying, how do we bring this to life in a meaningful way for someone reading that set of accounts and annual report?”

AAT: Securing future relevance

We have a new strategic plan to secure a bold and ambitious future for accounting technicians. Read more in our digital guide.

Read the plan

Christian Koch is an award-winning journalist/editor who has written for the Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph, The Independent, Q, The Face and Metro. He's also written about business for Accounting Technician, 20 and Director, where he is contributing editor.

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