By Faye Chua, head of futures research, ACCA
In this interview Marie McCrea, Partner at CIL in South Africa, talks about the Drivers of Change research and the imperatives that the accountancy profession and the business community need to focus on to stay successful. Marie is a member of ACCA’s Accountancy Futures Academy.
The accountancy profession needs to reinvent the talent pool.
There are a range of driving forces that suggests a diverse and growing set of demands and impacts on the accountant’s role in the future. This has a direct bearing on recruitment, professional training and development. The speed of change and the rate of emergence of new requirements place an emphasis on the need for ‘on demand’ accelerated learning-based solutions. Increasingly these will be delivered via the internet and mobile devices. At the same time, an increasingly broad, complex and demanding remit will influence the type of people that the profession seeks to attract. Alongside the traditional characteristics typically associated with the profession, traits such as entrepreneurship, curiosity, creativity and strategic thinking skills will become of increasing importance for tomorrow’s accountant.
Western populations, in particular, are ageing rapidly and financial pressures could mean that people have to work on into their late-60s, 70s or 80s. Hence the challenges of managing and addressing the needs and expectations of a multicultural, global and age-diverse workforce will become ever more complex. Technology and the internet now sit at the core of the modern enterprise and may offer some solutions for workforce integration.
Access to talent at all levels is consistently identified as a critical future success factor for small, medium and large enterprises alike. The challenge of securing a suitable flow of talent is increasingly becoming a top priority for CEOs, who are finding growth and development ambitions hampered by talent shortages.
Businesses must assume and plan for volatility
Expectations of economic uncertainty and turbulence now stretch out for a decade or more – driven by serious concerns over the scale of debt at the sovereign, corporate and individual level. At the same time, rapid shifts of wealth and power are taking place across the globe while concerns remain over the robustness of the global economic infrastructure. Under such conditions, a single business plan and a set of governing assumptions are no longer sufficient.
Leaders have to ensure that their organisations can survive and thrive under a range of scenarios. Leaders must also develop a core competency for thinking the unthinkable and preparing for it. Planning assumptions must consider the potential for economic collapse, nationalisation of assets by governments and disruptive innovations that could transform markets, industries or entire economic systems.
An emerging development priority for leaders is the need to learn how to make use of concepts such as chaos theory and integrated systems thinking to manage complexity within the firm.
Ecosystem thinking, risk management, tackling complexity and resilience planning will all need to become part of the core training and development programmes for managers, leaders and accountants.