The sustainability sector as a job market for new ACAs

Jul 30, 2020

In an article in ICAEW's Insights publication, KPMG’s Director of Sustainability Services Richard Betts describes the sustainability sector as offering a bright future for ACAs beginning their careers.

Sustainability is a rapidly developing area and with many companies only just getting started, providing opportunities for ACAs to bring added value in many ways.  

Sustainability work, Betts explained, matches the ACA skillset. Betts himself says he never thought about working in sustainability originally, and started in financial audit, transferring to KPMG’s sustainability department. 

"The ACA training gave me a really good foundation and transferable skills. Doing the ACA and working in financial audit gives you discipline and rigour, project management skills and attention to detail. Even though our data is not financial data, you still need the same skills.”

As a job sector for ACAs Betts emphasised that sustainability is a growth area, and is extremely active, despite COVID-19 presenting short-term difficulties in the economy, with a lot more work to be done in the coming years. 

The majority of large accountancy firms now have sustainability teams, which could be a focus for ACAs searching for work. The work of sustainablity is also integrated into core business: “At KPMG, we have sustainability engagements working with our financial audit teams but also with our tax and advisory teams,” he said. 

Betts describe the his own work in the area of sustainability where his ACA provided transferable skills enabling him to thrive in these fields, as well as existing and potential work for ACAs in the area:

  • non-financial reporting and assurance (for example GRI Standards, CDP, ISAE 3000, AA1000 and IIRC Integrated Reporting)
  • integrating key non-financial information into primary annual reports, for example to align with TCFD recommendations to include climate-related financial risk disclosures within their annual report
  • sustainability strategy and implementation
  • sustainable financing
  • environmental due diligence
  • climate change advisory services (TCFD and climate risk, GHG monitoring and reporting, decarbonisation and renewable energy)
  • social value
  • circular economy
  • auditing non-financial impact

The article states that "In the future, companies will need to report far more extensively on non-financial data that is now material to all businesses. More ACAs will be needed to do the necessary work."

For more resources see our Sustainability Centre on the Chartered Accountants Ireland website.