This article was first published in the February 2016 international edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

The need to ensure that we remain attractive to future generations of finance professionals presents a range of challenges that exercise the minds of a great many people at ACCA.

Developing our qualifications along with our continuing professional development (CPD) products and services, and refining our future support to members can sometimes feel like trying to fit together the pieces of a jigsaw without having a full picture of the puzzle to work from.

The rapid pace of technological change, the shift in global influence and an ever greater degree of interconnectedness are three powerful drivers in the construction of a new ‘normal’ for anyone who is involved in supporting professionals through their working lives.

There used to be a great deal more certainty about possible career paths for young adults. There was a reasonable chance that the job that an individual studied for at school or college was well established and would not be subject to any significant change.

Any individual would also have a reasonable expectation that they could map out their progress to their chosen destination based on the experience of previous generations. They could see the path to partner, CFO or auditor general.

But that landscape has now shifted significantly, thanks to the arrival and enormous impetus of IT automation, shared services and globalisation. Just how much things have changed in the past decade alone can be demonstrated by recent research, which has shown that the jobs that were most in demand in 2010 did not even exist in 2004. The same research shows that nearly two-thirds of children who entered school this academic year will work in jobs that do not currently exist.

That presents ACCA, along with every other professional body in every profession, with an interesting challenge. It is outlined by the article on page 36 of this month’s magazine, which looks at the mysteries of Generation Z – those people who were born around the turn of the century, who are in their mid to late teens and who are currently probably thinking about what kind of career they might be interested in.

Generation Z will also be the pool from which we draw our next generation of students, so the challenge is to ensure not only that accountancy remains an attractive proposition for them but also that we equip them – as well as our existing members – with the skills that employers and society in general will be looking for from finance professionals.

While I am focusing on the future, may I wish everyone who celebrates Chinese New Year a very happy and healthy year of the monkey. I hope it brings peace and prosperity to you all, wherever you may be.

Alexandra Chin runs her own practice in Sabah, Malaysia