ACCA - The global body for professional accountants
The key question is what do we do with these powerful insights? It is now up to the profession to ensure it meets the public’s needs for the highest standards of integrity, while taking a broader leadership role in both business and society
—Ewan Willars, director of policy, ACCA

Businesses and the accountancy profession will need to be better prepared to anticipate and respond to the unprecedented challenges of a volatile global economy while seeking and capitalising on opportunities, according to a survey of finance professionals around the world.

Global finance professionals were asked to identify the key factors they should be thinking about to prepare for in the next five to10 years, with responses helping to create the new study, 100 drivers of change for the global accountancy profession, by ACCA’s (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Accountancy Futures Academy. 

The study has developed 10 strategic imperatives for business and the accountancy profession based on insights from the members of the academy, as well as members of the IMA and ACCA’s other Global Forums and experts working in and close to the profession around the world.

The five imperatives for business are...

Businesses will need to assume and plan for volatility. With uncertainty as the new norm, businesses have to factor in turbulence as a very real possibility and develop strategies for a range of different economic and market conditions. At the same time, they will need to build a radar to prepare for a wide range of possibilities, tolerance of uncertainty and ‘seeing round corners’. At an operational level, development of a truly global model is becoming a priority which will require business to prepare for true globalisation. Leveraging technology effectively is of high importance as is developing the capability of management to work with, adapt to and get the best out of a multi-location, multicultural and age-diverse workforce. With this, business will undoubtedly need to pursue technology leadership, as developments in ICT have placed technology at the heart of strategy and operations of businesses across all sizes. Finally, companies will need to develop a curious, experimental and adaptable mindset which is a critical success factor in an increasingly complex and fast-changing environment. 

The five imperatives of the accountancy profession are…

Accounting professionals will need to embrace an enlarged strategic and commercial role. As businesses adapt to a turbulent environment, opportunities are emerging for accountants to assume a far greater organisational remit across all aspects of corporate decision making, from strategy formulation through to defining new business models. The profession will also need to focus on a holistic view of complexity, risk and performance and establish trust and ethical leadership. 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. 

The fourth strategic action is to develop a global orientation. The pace of global expansion of firms from developed and developing markets alike is placing the spotlight on accountancy’s ability to master the technical, language and cultural challenges of cross-border operations. The final strategic action for the profession is to reinvent the talent pool. The diverse range of demands on the profession is forcing a rethink of everything from recruitment through to training and development. Entrepreneurial spirit, curiosity, creativity and strategic thinking skills could assume far more significance in the selection of tomorrow’s accountants.

Raef Lawson, Ph.D, CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research said: 'The research emphasises that we are entering an increasingly uncertain world where almost every aspect of the economy, business and the accountancy profession will be in a state of flux. The drivers presented in this report highlight critical issues that will shape the global landscape.'

Ewan Willars, Director of Policy at ACCA said: 'The fact that these drivers for change have been identified by those working in accountancy clearly demonstrates the profession is willing and able to engage in long-term strategic thinking . The key question is what do we do with these powerful insights? It is now up to the profession to ensure it meets the public’s needs for the highest standards of integrity, while taking a broader leadership role in both business and society.'

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For more information, please contact:

Colin Davis, ACCA Newsroom
+ 44 (0) 207 059 5738
+44 (0) 7720 347713
colin.davis@accaglobal.com

Marc Gerrone
IMA
(201) 474-1502
mgerrone@imanet.org 

Notes to Editors

About ACCA 

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. ACCA aims to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. 

About IMA

IMA®, the association of accountants and financial professionals in business, is one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. Globally, IMA supports the profession through research, the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program, continuing education, networking, and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 65,000 members in 120 countries and 200 local chapter communities. IMA provides localized services through its offices in Montvale, N.J., USA; Zurich, Switzerland; Dubai, UAE; and Beijing, China.