Neil Johnson, journalist

Within the huge global gaming market, mobile gaming is king. According to Statista, 1.9 billion of the world’s three billion gamers will be playing on their mobile phones by 2027. Meanwhile, NewZoo’s Global Gamer Study 2023 reports that 94% of Gen Alpha are game enthusiasts.

Gaming companies are often young and more diverse than the rest of the IT sector

This is a community who spend a lot of time online hoovering up content and interacting around their favourite games, hence the growth of social network platforms as havens for gamers – think Twitch, Discord, TikTok, Reddit and Steam, as well as recent entrant Gameram.

Career scope

The sector is effectively part of the broader tech industry, but businesses within this niche are nimbler than traditional IT businesses, which can become complicated networks of subsidiaries straddling jurisdictions globally and providing services. Gaming companies are often young, more diverse than the rest of the IT sector and structured differently, less top-down and more horizontal.

Gameram CFO Andrey Dodon FCCA says: ‘In tech companies, there is a significant demand for horizontal professional growth, which involves building bridges with other teams in the company. The vertical organisational structure – a triangle with CEO on top and juniors spread over the base, sitting in departments encased in “little boxes” – no longer works.’

Gaming companies exist almost entirely online – from product development to service provision to operations – and do business direct with consumers anywhere in the world, which presents its own unique challenges. These can include a complex and ever-changing global regulatory and policy map, frequent updates to accounting and finance standards, swiftly shifting markets, transnational, local and cross-border tax considerations, transfer pricing, data protection, crypto regulation and more.

Think big data. Think quick implementation of ideas

So while such businesses will still require a recognisable in-house or outsourced finance team (depending on their size and scope), with the same legal obligations and management expectations as businesses in any other sector, there is a distinct tech flavour to working at one. Think big data, knowing how to gather and interpret it, and then working collaboratively to provide unique real-time management insight. Think quick implementation of ideas. Think products going to market and opening up new global revenue streams overnight.

‘If you work on a product that is represented worldwide, you must be aware of all the requirements in the jurisdictions where the product operates; you have to study and learn continually. Audit as a service has provided outstanding experience in this approach for me, where you come to a new project and start describing systems from scratch and understanding the client’s business,’ says Dodon, whose background includes long stints in audit with Moore Stephens.

Getting in and getting on

Essential to success in such an environment is a hybrid skillset combining strong and up-to-date technical skills. It also requires a willingness to continuously expand knowledge, self-motivation and a great attitude towards work, an ability to think broadly and unconventionally, and excellent communication.

‘Your professional network is of great importance too,’ says Dodon. ‘I may not know the answers to all the questions I have, but I know who to turn to for valuable advice.’

A background in audit or consulting, with a minimum two years’ experience (which proves your ability to weather tough cycles and busy seasons), combined with a qualification such as ACCA, makes for an attractive candidate. Equally, someone coming from a tech background or fast-growth start-up background, or someone with proven experience getting the most out of big data, both financial and non-financial.

You need to think beyond Excel and into business intelligence and databases

Working with new technology is another prerequisite. ‘Owners and managers of a new generation want data here and now – in the airport, on the plane, in the hotel lobby – a working style that requires online access to dashboards and reports, and an ability to collaborate around it on the go,’ Dodon says. ‘You need to think beyond Excel and into business intelligence systems, databases and even some coding ability.’

There is also scope to broaden skills in, for example, mergers and acquisitions. Dodon was previously CFO of mobile game developer Pixonic, which was acquired by a listed tech company. Although gaming start-ups tend to be usual targets for acquisition by big corporations, or may go public through an IPO, this is a fast-paced sector where CFOs are expected to be agile and responsive.

Ultimately, entry points and career paths vary depending on the size of the business. Fast-growth tech start-ups might prioritise experience, with the possibility of a quick rise up the ladder as the business grows and potential for ownership. Larger businesses might provide more structured pathways, including graduate schemes, but at whatever level, they will be looking for high achievers looking to grow, learn and drive the business’s mission.

More information

Visit the ACCA Careers website for news and advice on your next career move.