Technological advancements and changes in the financial ecosystem and more recently, a global pandemic have played major roles in transforming the world and the accountancy profession. These evolutions have been captured in the latest professional insight reports published by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), supporting the urgent call for finance professionals to equip themselves with critical skills to gain a competitive edge in the coming decade.
“At ACCA, we prioritise studying what these changes are and how they are impacting today’s world and the profession. Our global research work suggests that the on-going evolutions are progressing rapidly and requires immediate actions,” said Andrew Lim, Interim Portfolio Head of ACCA Maritime Southeast Asia. “This is the time to embrace new roles, acquire new skills, and stay up-to-date with the economical and global landscape through continuous learning and professional development.”
As an on-going commitment to helping professional accountants and students stay updated, ACCA has ensured its Qualifications, CPD initiatives and online resources reflect the latest real-world requirements, honing capabilities to produce graduates and finance leaders who are highly skilled and in demand for their ability to provide valuable and strategic counsel to organisations in the future.
The three key areas of opportunities, and the tools available for the development of the profession, lie in expanding the digital transformation thrusts; heightening focus on sustainability imperatives; and enhancing skill sets and mindsets for the role of ‘super-connectors’ within the organisation:
Data, Technology and the Profession
In much of today’s corporate landscape, technology continues to be a disruptive force that impacts and restructures industries around the world. As a core business function, the accounting sector needs to embrace and adopt new technologies to enable them to better navigate and lead organisations towards achieving financial sustainability and success in the long run.
The ACCA Qualification and Continuous Professional Development courses (CPDs) are designed to equip accountancy and finance professionals with the knowledge, skills and awareness of innovations in digital technology and its impact on the finance profession. Additionally, member networks and expert forums are organised throughout the year to provide members and future members with the opportunity to understand how new technologies can create value for them and their organisation.
Certifications such as the ACCA Certificate in Business Analytics, which is a 12-week online CPD course launching March 21, is developed to help professionals looking to enhance their understanding of data analytical methods and techniques as well as learn how to develop data-driven insights to support their organisation’s decision-making process.
Other technology-centred enrichment programmes by ACCA include the Certificate in FinTech for Finance, Machine-Learning with Python for Finance Professionals, and the Robotic Processing and Intelligent Automation for Finance courses which provide practical insights into the integration of FinTech technologies such as AI, machine learning and intelligent automation to transform finance operations and business models in organisations, while addressing cybersecurity needs.
With the exponential growth in blockchain technology for the accounting industry, ACCA also offers the Bitcoin and Blockchain Technologies online course to introduce participants to the fundamentals as well as real-world scenarios of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, with a bonus section about crypto-mining.
Sustainability and the Profession
The second area of opportunity revolves around sustainability awareness such as climate emergency and social inequality as accountants today have a bigger role to play in reporting wider climate risks, diversity and inclusivity practices, while driving corporate governance in the organisation.
Honing in on the growing need for expertise in sustainability, ACCA has recently formalised an agreement with the UN Global Compact Network Malaysia & Brunei (UNGCMYB), among other sustainability-driven collaborations, to drive education, upskilling and environmental advocacy among finance professionals.
ACCA also hosts a collection of research and other resources on its consolidated Sustainability Hub to supplement its existing CPD educational efforts, which include the Certificate in Sustainability for Finance course aimed at enhancing finance professionals’ know-how in evaluating business value chains and operating models related to sustainability issues. It addresses the ﬁnancial implications associated with climate change risks and approach in ESG data interpretation.
Collaboration, Innovation and the Profession
Today, the profession is also seeing greater collaborative and remote working structures, following the pandemic and emergence of computerised accounting systems. These workplace developments present an opportunity for the adoption of new skills and knowledge, particularly in the areas of collaboration, strategic and creative thinking.
One factor highlighted by ACCA research is that finance teams have now become central to the decision-making process across organisations. Moving forward, they will have the opportunity to play the role of ‘super-connectors’ within the organisation, translating strategic concepts into effective business operations and bringing the different business units together to achieve a common goal.
“At ACCA, building strategic collaborations with accounting bodies and universities is an intrinsic part of what we do to help build and expand the local talent pool. Our partnerships with global employers have also provided opportunities for our professionals to work anywhere in the world with the support of a strong international network of ACCA members. The fruits of our partnerships are also channelled back to the facilities provided to our members such as the ACCA Careers portal – where over 200,000 jobs with global opportunities for accountancy professionals at all levels are featured nearly every month. Plus, it also offers career advice and invitations to join our virtual career fairs throughout the year,” said Lim.
Being a super connector, ACCA also dedicates much of its efforts towards continuously enhancing its competency framework and tools to help nurture core capabilities of successful and sustainable finance professionals in an ever-changing business landscape. With the recent launch of Careers Navigator, our members and future members can now better navigate their way around identifying their desired career paths as well as the specific training or CPDs needed to grow into that role. “The demand for forward thinking sustainable finance professionals, across all sectors around the world, has never been greater. We believe that the Career Navigator can give another boost to finance professionals’ careers. Knowing what skills you need right now and in the future is key to long-term career and business success. Our tool brings together everything you need to set your route to success,” Lim added.
Fundamentally, ACCA remains committed to its legacy of over 117 years in developing the highest standard of professional competence in accountancy. From its research into identifying the main drivers of change to the tools developed to help shape the role of future finance professionals, ACCA continues to think ahead – ensuring that accountants maximise the roles that they play in driving positive changes to the world, while at the same time having the ability to capitalise on new opportunities that arise from these changes so that they will inevitably become sustainable business and finance professionals of the present and of the future.
For more information about ACCA and its commitment to Rethinking Our World, visit here.