Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

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Emma Meets – Rob Alder – Head of Business Development – AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)

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Emma Peterson,  Director FinTech Awards Wales & Finance Awards Wales Meets:

Rob Alder,

Head of Business Development,

AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)

 

Tell us about your business?

AAT is the UK’s leading qualification and professional body for technical accountants and bookkeepers, with around 130,000 members in over 100 countries. We offer a range of qualifications that are open to all regardless of previous education or age, such as the AAT Accounting Qualifications that provide a non-degree route into chartered accountancy.

Why did you choose to sponsor the Finance Awards Wales 2021?

AAT celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2020 and, over this time, we’ve had a strong track record in developing thousands of students based in Wales to gain the qualifications needed to enter the finance sector. We’re delighted to support the Finance Awards Wales 2021 and shine a spotlight on the finance profession as an enabler of exciting and rewarding careers, given that businesses of all shapes and sizes require highly-qualified finance staff. The Awards demonstrate the remarkable work of individuals and businesses throughout the country which encourages others to join the sector and increase its talent pool.

What impact do you feel the Awards have made in the Finance sector in Wales?

The stellar list of previous award winners and nominees, both senior finance professionals and emerging stars, has helped to attract an impressive range of sponsors, of which AAT is happy to add its name to. The Awards don’t only celebrate success but also act as an example for the rest of the finance sector, which can only help to raise standards.

How has your business been affected by Covid-19 and how have you been able to respond to this?

We’ve felt the impact of Covid-19 across the organisation, from the temporary suspension of AAT assessments to cancelled face-to-face events and our office closure. We were acutely aware that businesses needed robust financial counsel more than ever and ensured our students and members were armed with current knowledge and the relevant skills to help them navigate a rapidly changing landscape. Within days of the first lockdown, we rolled out a new Covid-19 hub with guidance and technical content. This was constantly revised and updated throughout the crisis to support members and businesses.

Throughout this challenging period, many training providers offered different forms of blended delivery – combining face-to-face and remote learning – to allow students to continue learning while classrooms were closed. With an eye to the future, we also conducted a new remote invigilation pilot to explore the feasibility of allowing students to take assessments at home, as well as expanding our distance learning offer. As a result, we have been able to continue supporting our students and members to build their skills and enable more people to take the first steps in their accountancy career.

How do you feel the Welsh economy will fare over the next 12 months?

It’s incredibly difficult to predict right now. Brexit may finally be upon us, but the detail of how the UK will operate outside of the European Union hasn’t yet fully fallen into place – many new trade deals are being worked on, as well as how we operate with the rest of Europe going forward. We are also still dealing with the economic fallout from the pandemic and it remains to be seen how much impact this will have on businesses in the longer term. However, the measures announced in the Budget in March will help to support businesses in Wales and across the UK during the UK’s economic recovery, as well as the Government’s commitment to increase investment in skills and training which will enable more people to develop and thrive in their careers.

What plans do you have for your business in 2021?

There’s plenty of work already being undertaken as we prepare to launch our latest suite of accounting qualifications in 2021. In addition, we’ll be continuing to monitor the impact of Brexit, as new immigration rules may lead to changes in terms of student recruitment and funding, and how we can best support our members and their small businesses as the UK economy begins to recover from the pandemic.

We’re fully committed to being a responsible business with all that entails, including understanding our environmental and social impacts. From working to eliminate the gender pay gap and promoting opportunities for social mobility, to acting robustly on climate change mitigation, AAT continues to be a purpose-led organisation which seeks to create long-term value. It’s a key area which accountants should be considering too, from fighting climate change through practical measurement and management of impacts, alongside helping businesses build sustainability into their commercial relationships, working practices and supply chains.