A large pan-European study across Europe’s accountancy profession by ACCA provides a glimpse into how this group feel about their life at work.

Asked about their top concerns, the impact of inflation on earnings was head and shoulders above any other at 54%. Other issues ranked pretty equally with well-being/mental health at 36%, and the impact of a global downturn on job opportunities at 33%.

The survey underlined the impact that the Covid pandemic has had on the working life of Europe’s financial professionals. Only 31% of respondents are now fully office-based – a figure unimaginable a few years ago – while 13% are fully remote/home-based and 56% have hybrid working patterns.

Across Europe younger respondents are more likely to report fully office-based working arrangements, with almost two-thirds (64%) of Gen Z respondents taking this approach, while older age groups are significantly more likely to report hybrid or remote approaches.

Commenting on this, ACCA regional head of public affairs relationships, Vikas Aggarwal, said: “This survey starkly reveals how hybrid and remote working have gained traction across Europe. This is notably different from the global picture, where over half of respondents reported being fully office-based. However, concerns about the pace of technological change underline the crucial importance of investment into training to help individuals achieve their growth aspirations and to improve retention.”

With growing wage constraints and potential funding cuts looming for many sectors, the unease over salaries is unsurprising. Employers from across all sectors expressed strong concerns about retention of talent in light of current economic challenges and uncertainty about the forward trajectory.

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Organisations are seeking to evolve strategies that can support attraction and retention, with hybrid and remote working often being a core component of strategies explored. But they have a fight on their hands to satisfy the career demands of financial professionals.

While the profession remains attractive, mobility is presenting employers with challenges in accessing and retaining talent. The Talent Trend Survey recorded significant challenges for employers around the world seeking to attract or retain the talent they need. This challenge is prevalent across Europe, where over one-third (39%) of respondents plan to move to their next role within 12 months, rising significantly to almost two-thirds (63%) planning to move within the next two years. Almost half of those planning to move are seeking an external move, and 61% are seeking a promotion as part of a move.

Mental health is an emerging challenge. Over half (57%) state that their mental health suffers because of work pressures, while over three-quarters (77%) state that they would like a better work–life balance.

One in two have indicated that they would like more support from their organisation in managing mental health, while 39% claim that their organisation does not consider employee mental health to be a priority. These concerns are consistent with the picture on mental health and burnout from various other parts of the world.

The survey reveals that for the profession in Europe while inclusivity scores well, social mobility requires addressing. Over two-thirds (69%) of respondents across Europe believe that leaders in their organisation have integrity, and 69% state that their organisation is inclusive. There is more positive news, with almost three-quarters (72%) stating that they believe leaders in their organisation are accessible.

Aggarwal concluded: “Despite these positive ratings, there is still significant work to do in increasing social mobility, with more than one-third of respondents across Europe (36%) indicating that they believe a low socio-economic background is still a barrier to progression within their organisation. Globally almost half (49%) of respondents share this view, suggesting there is still significant work to do on social mobility.”