Archives For Accountancy Futures Academy

By Faye Chua, head of futures research, ACCA

In this interview Ng Boon Yew, chair of ACCA’s Accountancy Futures Academy, 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.

The accountancy profession needs to focus on a holistic view of complexity, risk and performance

There is growing consensus on the need for reporting to provide a firm-wide view of organisational health, performance and prospects. Such a holistic perspective must acknowledge the complexity of modern business and encompass financial and non-financial indicators of a firm’s status and potential.

As businesses adapt to a turbulent environment, opportunities are emerging for accountants to assume a far greater organisational remit. The potential exists to leverage the capabilities of the accountant across all aspects of corporate decision making, from strategy formulation through to defining new business models.

A very clear message is emerging on the need for company reporting to provide a firm-wide view of organisational health, performance and prospects. Such a holistic perspective needs to take account of the complexity of modern business and highlight the efforts to address it. Such an integrated view must also report on non-financial measures such as innovation. Equally important will be the assessment of the strength of core business relationships, the overall vibrancy of a firm’s culture and employee health and happiness. Taking the holistic view goes well beyond the current remit of the CFO’s organisation and has major implications for training and the development of the accountancy function.

Businesses must prepare for true globalisation

Development of a truly global operating model is becoming a priority. A clear emphasis is required on leveraging technology effectively. Although many firms have embraced a truly global operating model, others are still in the process of learning what this entails. Becoming truly global implies moving beyond the export of home country paradigms and operating models. Long-term success across multiple geographies and cultures demands the development of genuinely global management approaches. These must encompass everything from strategy formulation through to business innovation and talent recruitment and development. Although technology is a critical enabler of the effective operation of the global enterprise, the key factor is the capability of management to work with, adapt to and get the best out of a multi-location, multicultural and age-diverse workforce.

The rate and distribution of global population growth, and the resulting implications for workforce age structure are highlighted as important drivers. Increased female participation in the workforce, expectations of emerging generations and cultural diversity are all emphasised as critical social drivers for business. Issues around workforce capability are also identified with particular emphasis placed on the cost and ease of access to higher education and the growing role of online learning.

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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.

By Faye Chua, head of futures research, ACCA

In this interview Rohit Talwar, CEO Fast Futures, 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. Rohit is a member of ACCA’s Accountancy Futures Academy and was involved in the development of the Drivers of Change research.

The accountancy profession needs to develop a global orientation

The pursuit of global opportunities is now a clear priority for large, medium and small enterprises from developed and developing markets alike. The implications for the accountancy function are immense. The first priority is gaining rapid mastery of relatively straightforward matters such as understanding local accounting rules, taxation laws and procedures for profit repatriation, all of which may influence market entry decisions. Then come the more complex challenges of getting a thorough understanding of local business customs and practices, cultural norms and language differences. Key here is developing the mindset within accountancy that is respectful of different practices and cultures and open to ideas, wherever they originate.

The wider businesses community must assume and plan for volatility

Thinking about the future is no longer a luxury or a short discussion in the annual management retreat. Systematic and organisation-wide approaches are now required to scan, explore and assess the implications of key future factors across the short, medium and longer term. Clear responsibilities need to be allocated for identifying and acting on future insights. Companies must be capable of wide-range ‘horizon scanning’ to capture diverse future factors such as driving forces, persistent factors and emerging trends. Consideration must also be given to weak signals, wild cards and the ideas, developments and individuals that could shape the global economy and the operating environment within the industry. Scanning and preparing for a wide range of possibilities, tolerance of uncertainty, curiosity and ‘seeing round corners’ are becoming critical development priorities for managers and leaders alike.

Find out more about ACCA’s Drivers of Change research.