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, a new survey of finance professionals around the world suggests.
They were asked to identify the key factors they should be thinking about to prepare for in the next five to ten years, with responses helping to create the new study, 100 Drivers of change for the global accountancy profession, by the ACCA's Accountancy Futures Academy.
The study has developed ten 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 mindsetwhich 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, PhD, 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."
The full report can be viewed here: