Developing the Next Generation of Finance Leaders – Gareth John, President of ICAEW Anglia

In CFO by Sophie Galtress

Reading Time: 4 minutes


In this episode of CFO podcast, join Hannah Munro as she interviews key experts to give you real-world advice and guidance on how to transform. She invites Gareth John to this podcast episode. Mr John is the Executive Chairman and Director of Accountancy Training College in Cambridge at First Intuition Cambridge Ltd. He is also the President of ICAEW, East Anglia.

What to listen out for:

  • Gareth’s journey to ICAEW
  • Current drivers and changes in the skills needed for finance teams
  • How qualifications are changing to develop the next generation of finance
  • How do existing leaders continue to develop their skills?

Summary of Episode

What do you do at First Intuition Cambridge? 


Essentially, we are a finance college so we train Accountants and the major Accountancy qualifications. We do the training all around the country and overseas. We do the training through classroom training and online training. We offer quite a wide variety. We do it through apprenticeships and non-apprenticeships, we work with accountancy practices. We also work with finance functions in commercial organizations.

What was your journey to ICAEW?


I originally got into accountancy. I had no idea what to do with myself in my early twenties. It only appealed to me about accountancy is that every sector needs accountants. And I was interested in economics. But it turned out, as I qualified myself as an accountant one of the things, I love is the responsibility of training junior staffs and help them understand tasks so I moved myself into professional training.


And then about 11 years ago, me and my colleagues set up our own office. We have grown dramatically all-around different parts of the country. It is a really exciting and rewarding journey and I’m glad I chose education as a direction to take in my career.

How are the qualifications changing to suit the next generations?


The awarding bodies do work very hard to continually evolve their syllabuses, evolve the qualification content to make sure it is relevant fit for purpose to make sure it’s going to keep employers fundamentally satisfied.

Have you seen a shift in the role of finance?


There is actually something that is obviously a huge amount of automation that is coming into the accountancy process in the use of artificial intelligence. In our internal system, we use one of the cloud accounting platforms and it automatically posts invoices without any human interaction.


Artificial intelligence automatically reconciles our bank account, it’s clever to do that without anybody helping. That would be the fear of the people to get away with the job of Accountancy. We are going to be replaced by robots. But to be honest, by replacing that it allows us to do more analytical side of advisory stuff.


As stated by Gareth, he often says that they’re used to be very input drive. That’s much more output-driven though. It’s much more about taking the results of your system and making sense. They can communicate conclusions to either your own management team or to your client.


Professional accountants are being called to drawn for wider range of interpersonal skills at a much earlier age.

What skills will be needed to cope with this change?


The soft skills are the hard ones, they’re the really important ones that dictate the distance in your career. I think, you know, if you are banking, your finance career on being able to do bank RECs and tax computations, you are already irrelevant.


Let alone in a few years’ time know that the distance of your career is dictated by your interpersonal skills, your negotiation skills, handling difficult situations, handling conflict, and stakeholder management.


We all know reflection on how we’re performing and identify what we can do better and what we do differently. We know that’s a fundamental part of learning but we just never have time to do it.

For those who have already completed their qualifications, how do get up to speed?


There is always CPD, it’s becoming clearer and clearer each and every year. A lot of people will be almost trying to incorporate some of the elements of CPD that young learners are getting as part of their programs.


According to a research, 9 out of 10 employees in the country will need some form of pretty significant re-skilling in the next decade, basically all of us. Every single one of us need to take a big responsibility for our own development.


At Intuition, we started rolling out a leadership management program in conjunction with the CMI. So, we’ve got a level three and a level five program.

Key Quotes


“The day you are done learning, you’re done, you have to constantly keep on learning.”


“Every single one of us needs to take a big responsibility for our own development, whether that be, leadership skills, or digital skills.”


  • The best way to reach out with Gareth is at or in LinkedIn.
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