Closing the value gap: understanding the accountancy profession in the 21st century

Public value and trust are often thought of as intangibles. But we know very tangibly when trust is eroded and when public value is not being delivered. Independent research, commissioned by ACCA and conducted by Longitude Research, asked the accountancy profession and the public about trust and public value. The findings reveal an accountancy profession keen to re-examine its future and ready to ensure it works ethically and to prove its public value. For ACCA, delivering public value means working in the public interest, promoting responsible and ethical business and supporting enhanced global economic performance.

This report draws on three specific research inputs. 

  1. A brief online survey was conducted among nearly 1,500 members of the public, all employed and drawn from a range of key markets around the world: the US, UK, Poland, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Singapore and Hong Kong. All respondents were employed, spanning a wide range of industries, with an even balance of age groups and genders. 

  2. A longer online survey was conducted among 261 accountants, drawn from the same countries. The respondents held a diverse range of roles within their businesses, from financial controllers and CFOs working in business, through to assistant accountants and auditors at the practice end. 

  3. In-depth interviews were held with eight opinion-formers and experts, including current or former regulators/institute executives, CFOs and CEOs, practising accountants and a reputation expert. 

The findings make for interesting reading and pose challenges for the profession, as well as opportunities. Our conclusion on page 27 offers five ways this value gap can be closed, from engaging proactively with stakeholders and the public at large about what the accountancy profession does, to addressing legitimate concerns about ethical issues and conflicts of interest.