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Dev-Bank Wales MBO
5 July 2024

Emma Meets Kevin Bragg, President of AAT

In this series of ‘Emma Meets', Emma Peterson, Director of Recruit 121 Finance & Accounting Solutions, finds out more about the sponsors of the Finance Awards Wales 2024.

Finance Awards Wales is designed to recognise, attract and invest in the talented finance professionals working in Wales, showcasing the best of the best in the finance industry. In this edition, Emma Meets Kevin Bragg, President of AAT.

Can you provide an overview of the AAT and its role in the finance sector?

AAT, the Association of Accounting Technicians, is the world’s leading body for professional accounting technicians. AAT has championed inclusive access to accountancy training for more than 40 years and provides internationally recognised qualifications open to all. Our role in the finance sector is centred around our three strategic pillars to keep the accounting profession relevant, raise professional standards, and develop responsible business. These pillars are key to futureproofing accountancy and building stronger economies. We are proud to have over 124,000 members and students in 105 countries, with opportunities for school leavers, people seeking careers changes, and those who want to run their own business and improve financial literacy.

How does the AAT see its role in contributing to the recognition of excellence in finance within Wales?

AAT is committed to supporting students across Wales by providing access to skills training and qualifications in the accounting profession. We have worked with thousands of students in Wales as well as supporting business owners and career changers with access to globally respected qualifications. The qualifications provide a recognition of excellence that can lead to a prosperous career in accountancy, bolster business success, and help to demonstrate the incredible finance talent in Wales.

Why is it important for the AAT to recognise and celebrate excellence in payroll through events like Finance Awards Wales?

Finance Awards Wales and similar events shine a spotlight on how rewarding and exciting accounting and finance careers can be. We are confident that award events are a great way to inspire others to join the accountancy profession while also celebrating the success of current accounting professionals. The events clearly illustrate the need for financial talent across all businesses so that they can thrive while encouraging others to join the sector.

How does the AAT believe such recognition contributes to the overall finance landscape?

We are committed to keeping the accounting profession relevant and award recognition provides a great opportunity to showcase how vital accounting skills are to businesses. With the ongoing cost of living crisis and the continuing impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as increasing global volatility, this recognition demonstrates how financial skills help businesses to stay resilient and agile. We want to show how successful accounting can lead to thriving businesses by emphasising the importance of highly qualified finance staff, including those who are members of professional bodies such as AAT. Award recognition is a great opportunity to celebrate accounting talent and grow the talent pool by inspiring others.

How does the AAT see these trends impacting the professionals it represents?

We launched our Strategy last year to support our members and students through changes. Our vision is to build on our core values and to commit to giving our members and students the real-world ready skills they need to drive the accountancy profession forward. This means being adaptable and equipped to meet the challenges of tomorrow, which includes the major trends we’re seeing now with the likes of AI and disruption to global supply chains.

How can involvement in Finance Awards Wales benefit payroll professionals and finance teams in terms of recognition and professional growth?

Involvement in the Finance Awards Wales provides a platform to show how accounting professionals and finance teams are integral to business success. By providing this spotlight, staff can be celebrated and inspired to endeavour to further success knowing that their contributions are valued and recognised by Finance Awards Wales. This creates a supportive community and demonstrates how individual and team success in finance can play a pivotal role in helping businesses to thrive. The awards are an opportunity for celebration and inspiration and ultimately prove how valuable accounting and financial skills are.

Are there specific awards or categories that the AAT is particularly excited about?

I’m very excited that AAT are sponsoring the Accounts Technician of the Year category this year. The category recognises the immense value of accounting technicians and the nominees’ stories highlight just how much value they can add within organisations. It’s great to be able to celebrate these achievements and I hope it will encourage others to consider accounting technicians roles.

Are there educational initiatives or resources the AAT provides for payroll professionals in Wales?

We offer lots of exciting initiatives for professional in Wales, including supporting our members and employers with continued professional development through our AAT Store and the AAT Lifelong Learning portal. We continue to invest in engaging content to support the profession though our publications such as AT magazine for members, AAT Student magazine, our Informi website which provides free guidance on all things small business, and AAT Comment which covers the big issues affecting finance professionals and students. We continue to raise awareness within the profession by upskilling through AAT qualifications and building talent pipelines through AAT Apprenticeships, which are widely used and valued in Wales. We’re also always keen to speak to more career changers to help them step into finance careers.

Are there plans for continued collaboration with Finance Awards Wales or other initiatives aimed at supporting the finance community in Wales?

We’re proud and honoured to be involved in celebrating the progress and achievements of finance professionals in Wales. The awards highlight great success stories in Wales and the contribution all the partners and stakeholders make to enable a thriving business community. We endeavour to be involved in initiatives that support the finance community, such as recent involvement from the AAT community in WorldSkills UK Wales, Apprenticeship Awards Cymru. We’ll continue to work closely with our approved colleges and training providers across Wales to make AAT qualifications and courses available for lifelong learning and workforce development.

What is the best advice you have been given or would you give to someone?

I would say to focus on the now and to live in the moment. It’s important to not get too ahead of yourself and instead to focus on what you can do in the moment in your training and career.

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