Coding and the accountancy profession

Technology and digital skills are a core part of the accountant’s world. Digital adoption is on the rise, and accountants are increasingly being asked to leverage digital to enhance the value they bring, says ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) in a new briefing paper called 'Coding: as a professional accountant, why you should be interested'.

The briefing explains why professional accountants should be aware of and interested in coding, which is a task most associated with developing solutions using technology. This is done in a programming language, of which there are many types – some in machine code and others very much like natural language, the latter being the focus of the paper.

Narayanan Vaidyanathan, ACCA’s head of business futures, says: ‘Not every professional accountant may need to code, but even a basic understanding can add value to their organisations, help to differentiate themselves and open future career opportunities.’

Research amongst 992 ACCA members showed that although 57% had no knowledge of coding, 40% expressed an interest in learning. Looking ahead three years, none of the respondents wanted to remain without any knowledge of coding. And over that same time frame, six in 10 wanted to develop a basic knowledge, and a further one in four sought advanced knowledge in coding.

The paper contextualises coding to the accountancy environment, with an explanation of the benefits and barriers typically faced, and a case study on how it fits into the wider eco-system of skills relevant to the professional accountant.

Narayanan Vaidyanathan concludes: ‘Coding can be a valuable skillset. There are various levels at which an accountant can get involved – from just a high-level awareness of what it is, to involvement as a user who can partner with specialists to more hands-on development of code itself.’

ACCA offers CPD courses across this spectrum: for those interested in a high-level introduction, Machine learning – an introduction for finance professionals will provide a business oriented view of AI. While for those seeking more hands-on training with Python labs, Machine learning with Python for finance professionals will be more appropriate.

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About ACCA: ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global professional body for professional accountants.

We’re a thriving global community of 233,000 members and 536,000 future members based in 178 countries and regions, who work across a wide range of sectors and industries. We uphold the highest professional and ethical values.

We offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. Our qualifications and learning opportunities develop strategic business leaders, forward-thinking professionals with the financial, business and digital expertise essential for the creation of sustainable organisations and flourishing societies.

Since 1904, being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society and is vital helping economies, organisations and individuals to grow and prosper. It does this by creating robust trusted financial and business management, combating corruption, ensuring organisations are managed ethically, driving sustainability, and providing rewarding career opportunities.

And through our cutting-edge research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing for the future. We’re a not-for-profit organisation. Find out more at accaglobal.com

"Not every professional accountant may need to code, but even a basic understanding can add value to their organisations, help to differentiate themselves and open future career opportunities."

Narayanan Vaidyanathan, head of business futures - ACCA