Established in 1987, CSB Group started as a small family business and has today flourished into an 80+ strong organisation. Presently, the Client Accounting department is the largest team within the Corporate Services business, supporting a large portfolio of international and local clients. The department employs 14 accounting professionals, each with their own area of specialisation and some of whom are still studying.
Almost 70% of the workforce at CSB Group is female and this strong female participation is reflected also in the Client Accounting department with women making up 80% of the team. I took some time to speak to 5 of these women to ask about their career in Accounting and get any snippets of advice for aspiring future Accountants.
Why do women choose a career in Accounting?
I was curious to know what led each of the 5 women to choose Accounting as a career. Four of the professionals admitted that ever since they could remember, they had a strong grasp of numbers and that Accounts was a favourite school subject. Anabelle and Miriam, both in their late 30s, also commented that at the time when they were still at school, Accounting and Financial services in Malta “were relatively new areas and heavily marketed with a lot of jobs openings”. Potentially motivated by their strong grasp of numbers and coupled with this need within the labour market, the choice was not hard to make. “I recall that back in my school days, in the 1980’s, the choice of subjects and careers, especially to women, were not as great. The Accounts subject was popular with the girls, probably since this led to an office job, and who was good in Maths did well in it and found it as a good option to further their studies in.”
In a sense, the career path of these women was shaped by Malta’s own development as a hub for Financial services, together with evolving social norms on women’s participation in the labour force. I wondered therefore whether they perceived the Accounting profession, in comparison to other career paths, to provide women with any specific advantages. However, all four professionals felt that there were no specific advantages. “Not necessarily to be honest as it is a very demanding career, constant deadlines and includes a significant share of stress, especially the more senior you become.”
Advantages of working in accounting
All of the women commented that the advantages were more dependent on the organisation one worked with and its culture. Due to the competition for good talent in the industry, organisations in the Financial Services industry tend to provide a degree of flexibility to its workforce as well as the possibility of working from home. This is seen as being advantageous especially if one is still studying or juggling other responsibilities with their career. “At the same time, it is a taken for granted fact perhaps, that this flexibility, including remote working, are only possible because Accounting data and software can be accessed digitally. This is not necessarily the case in other industries where the job requires persons to be physically located in one specific place.”
One point that keeps cropping up in the media, and which I was curious to tap into, is the reported gender gap in salary and glass ceiling effecting progression. I wondered whether my five colleagues perceive this to be the case in the Accounting profession as well. Yet, all five professionals felt that this was not the case for them or for the profession in general.
Catherine, who recently obtained her Warrant, commented that, “at the place of work there are far more women in accounting than men, and so far I haven’t encountered any gender gaps. At CSB we also have a lot of women in managerial positions so it’s definitely not the case.” Anabelle continued by saying that, “in my view this is not the case in the accountancy profession because for instance I am the senior manager of the Client Accounting department. So, if you work hard and are committed, gender doesn’t really come into play both in terms of salary and in terms of seniority.”
Women’s advice to women interested in an Accounting profession
So, with over 40 years of accounting experience between them, what advice could these five professionals impart to young women who are planning to start studying Accounts or move into the Accounting profession?
Catherine explained that, “Accountancy is a growing field and accountants are always in demand. This provides you with stability of employment. Furthermore, it’s a well-respected and rewarding profession. You’ll never be bored as you’re constantly being challenged.”
Tania and Anabelle added that working in the accounting field whilst studying is something they would suggest to anyone who is embarking on this career path. Tania explained that, “If I had to go back, I would have started working and taken up studying independently instead of following a full-time course. This would have saved me time for sure.” Anabelle added that, “Something I would have done if I were to go back is that I would have worked more in the accountancy field at the same time whilst studying. It is hard, but putting into practice what one learns would guarantee a much speedier learning curve.”
Finally, Anabelle and Catherine both recommended to never stop studying. “Changes in technology and regulation mean that the accounting industry is constantly evolving so you have to keep your knowledge updated.” “Don’t ever stop studying is my recommendation. Even when you finish your University or ACCA course, enrol into a diploma specialised in VAT, tax or any other course because as accountants we should always keep updated. Keep in mind that when you are younger, it is really the best time to study because once kids come along it is definitely harder!”
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
About the Author
Elaine has been an active HR professional since 2011 and has experience in diverse industries, including Financial Services, i-Gaming, Telecommunication, Manufacturing, Hospitality and the Health and Social Services.