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Our regular Cogs & Wheels page takes a look at what makes a successful international network tick.
New generations of young talent, new technologies and new regulation all demand personal development solutions that are flexible, scalable and relevant.
With intelligent technology poised to shake up the capability mix of most professional services providers, it is now more important than ever for accountancy firms to future-proof themselves from the risk of falling behind. Having the right knowledge and skills to meet client needs is a challenge, and one made more complex by a changing workforce with different aspirations, attitudes and approaches to learning.
Influence and Support
The member firms that comprise the UHY international network are independent businesses, responsible for their own professional qualification and certification. The network’s measures on quality control ensure every member firm is fit for purpose and delivers exceptional levels of client service, wherever in the world they are. But the need for overall direction and support in navigating change, and the need for appropriate investment in skills and capabilities for today and tomorrow, means there is a lot that a network can do to facilitate a successful future for its members.
UHY’s Membership Training Working Group plans and delivers a comprehensive training resource available to all firms, including webinars on key topics from technical updates to practice management, and a series on effective leadership. The group is led by Board member Alan Farrelly, managing director of UHY Farrelly Dawe White Ltd, Ireland.
“The international focus of our training programme is essential for the consistent delivery of services by UHY member firms,” says Alan. “We are striving to achieve a standard whereby clients can move seamlessly through the network as they expand into new markets and territories – I believe this is what they expect, at the very least. Training our member firms and developing an ethos of ‘international best practice’ is, therefore, a key priority.”
Education has also become a fundamental component of every UHY international meeting. Each event includes workshops and breakout sessions on audit, tax, marketing and business development. Keynote conference speakers are carefully chosen to inspire and inform delegates on current issues, from working with different cultures to the impacts and opportunities of new technology. The meetings also provide crucial networking time for UHY colleagues across the world to meet and share their experience.
Fresh Thinking- The New Generation
For UHY member firms, succession planning has always been a vital ingredient. UHY’s flagship young leaders event is the UHY Forum, held annually in Grazalema, Spain, and is now in its eighteenth year. The comprehensive business programme mixes personal mentoring with management and commercial skills training and an in-depth senior-level understanding of the network’s strategic objectives.
Forum founder Bernard Fay, co-managing partner, UHY Fay & Co, Spain, director and former chairman of the UHY Board, says: “Being at the UHY Forum reinforces the sense of belonging to a thriving global organisation with a strong international mindset and culture. Our goal has always been to see UHY’s young talent flourish. It is also important to give them a voice, to hear what the younger generation thinks of UHY and what their expectations are.”
Peer to Peer
UHY member firms around the world invest their time and money in getting and keeping the best people for the job. Larger firms have developed comprehensive and innovative management development programmes of their own, and are happy to share their techniques and experience directly with UHY colleagues in other countries. It is an inherent part of UHY’s unique ‘working together’ culture.
Technical and process expertise is frequently shared across borders too. From audit teams learning new software to tax teams sharing the experience of new regulation, peer-to-peer learning is an effective means to build both expertise and relationships. ‘Awayday’ visits to other firms in different countries for groups of junior staff, are also an increasingly popular initiative and help to instil the international culture of UHY at every level of the business.
UHY also operates a secondment scheme, which provides a process for UHY member firms to either fill a short-term specialised human resource or skills requirement or to address the career development of employees for future roles within the employing firm.