17 Nov

The Future of Management Accountants

Global Accountant came together with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), part of the community of the world’s largest body of accountants, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, to discuss what the future holds for the profession, education and the shift in industry dynamics.

Automation and Data analytics

Only a few accountants have the time to lift their head and look around to see the pace in which the industry is shifting beneath their feet. Strangely, and many would not have guessed this ten years ago, the industry is being shaped by those who are less qualified [in accounting terms] and dare compare with the accounting knowledge of a qualified management accountant. However, they are delivering what the user of accounts want and the way they want it. And that counts.

To state the obvious, we are living in an age of technology and its best buddy, transition; which both are shaping the accounting and finance industry faster than some can keep up. The shift in data analytics and how management accountants provide better insight, live streaming reports offering customisation and serving various stakeholder needs through a single tool, automation and its eagerness to replace the accountant is almost what we hear every day in the public domain. This is all great for trees, need for speed, and user of accounts, but what about the years of study, sweat and [sometimes] blood given by those management accountants to get to where they are; now to realise someone else is in the driving seat.

Andrew Harding, Managing Director at CIMA comments:

The speed in which the industry is changing and the demand placed on management accountants should not be seen as a threat but an opportunity to raise our skill-set and adapt more appropriately to the changing times.
CIMA is currently ahead in equipping its students and members with the necessary skills through education and relevant CPD requirements and it is clear that management accountants will need to be prepared to learn, unlearn and relearn to support agility and demonstrate competence

The methods employed today by management accountants have changed, for example, streaming visualisations and live data with dozens of KPI analysis visible across the world by various stakeholders. This will all require capability and skill; and that is what we aim to provide our students and members though appropriate training – to become the modern accountant they are destined to be.

CIMA is currently carrying out projects to ensure there is adequate sustenance to ensure this change is sustainable. This change is now enshrined in the new CIMA education ethos and will remain continuous.

CIMA and 2018

CIMA and Global Accountant has discussed what the year 2018 holds for the management accounting profession and what CIMA will do to continue to improve the standard of education and career progression of its students and members.

Andrew Harding said:

In the New Year we will see many new advances in the education system we offer. The way in we deliver and reward our students and members will include various new methods in evaluation and promote career progression.
We are pleased to see the unprecedented increase and importance the employment industry has placed in the CIMA designatory letters and highlighting that employers are now placing more importance and priority for job qualification for those who hold the CIMA designatory letter. We will continue to support our students and members to ensure they are recognised and valued as the modern finance and business professional. This will come though continued efforts to better the standards of our education and support to our stakeholders.
We offer one of the world’s highest quality certifications in the industry and our task now is to ensure this level of excellence is maintained and recognised though different methods of achievements. New methods in assessment, badging and many more advances in learning will be seen in 2018.
14 Dec

ACCA sets out the fifty forces leading change in the public sector

ACCA Global Challenges Global AccountantEconomic growth, quality and availability of the global talent pool and business leader’s responsiveness to change are the top three drivers of change in the public sector globally says ACCA in a new report.

Drivers of change in the public sector uncovers a total of fifty key forces that will affect the global public sector landscape between now and 2021, which encompass challenges from governance and strategy through to operations and talent development.

This is the first global ACCA report to focus exclusively on identifying the key factors that will change in the public sector and to assess how they will shape the future, with ACCA asserting that global changes will have a local impact and governments will need to be at the forefront of tackling their effects.

Stephen Emasu, chair of ACCA’s global forum for the public sector says:

The scale and pace of change in the public sector is accelerating like never before. Effective governments need to understand which issues should be their top priorities and when they are likely to impact in order to benefit their country’s public sector.
Economic growth unsurprisingly leads as the top driver of change globally, crucially because it’s a key measure of a nation’s health and prosperity. Western Europe and Asia Pacific rated this issue particularly highly, followed by Africa and South Asia but only just over half the respondents (51%) in North America.
Respondents considered the global talent pool to be the second most critical driver for the public sector. Asia Pacific region ranked this most highly (49%) followed by South Asia (44%), North America (41%) and Africa (36%). Western Europe rated this at only 26%, probably explained by the region’s ability to attract talent from other regions, creating an imbalance. Nevertheless, attracting people with the right skills is a long-term challenge for the public sector and sustained efforts will be required to close the ‘talent gap’ globally.
Business leaders’ responsiveness to change and disruption is also crucial as organisations are generally defined by the qualities of their leaders. People and their ability to lead will always be the key to unlocking organisational value. Respondents in North America and South Asia both rated this equally highly (43%) followed by Africa (38%).

Each driver was assessed against eight categories: economy, politics and law, society, business of government, science and technology, environment, energy and resources, the practice of accounting and the accountancy profession to determine the likely and timely impact they will place on the sector.

Helen Brand OBE, chief executive at ACCA said:

Collectively these drivers of change are making the public sector environment more fluid and forcing it to evolve.
It is an exciting time to be a professional accountant in the public sector. There is a huge opportunity to help shape the public services of the future, achieving value for money and long-term sustainability. Arguably, there are few other areas that provide the diversity of challenge and fulfilment found in the sector. To perform their roles well, public sector finance professionals need to be able to navigate the present and prepare for the future to ensure that the best value is obtained from public funds.
Professionals accountants in the public sector finance function will need to adapt to these prevailing winds of change by honing in on their technical and specialist skills, as well as developing new attributes, in order to meet emerging challenges and make the most of fresh opportunities. This also echoes our Professional accountants – the future research which laid out the skills needed by future employers

The research findings presented in this report are based on over 1,000 online survey responses by senior executives, ACCA members and members of other professional accountancy bodies working in public sector organisations during the months of May to August 2016. The online survey was complemented with 13 roundtables held in 12 countries (China, Ireland, Kenya, Ghana, UK, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, US and Zimbabwe), during the months of May to September. Over 300 participants attended the roundtables and one-to-one interviews with senior leaders have been conducted to shape the insights in this report.

01 Sep

Finance departments embrace automation and artificial intelligence

Despite fears of job losses, finance professionals embrace the rise of artificial intelligence, automation and robots, according to the latest survey by the CIMA.

Chartered Institute of Management AccountantsThe results of the poll of 1,628 CIMA members reveal that 83% support the idea of more automation if it saves time and money or helps with indecision in their organisations. This indicates that accountants regard the impact of new technologies as an opportunity rather than a threat.

When asked about the effect of such innovation on businesses, management accountants were most likely to state that the outcome would be more efficient companies as a result of better automation and data analysis (62%), followed by a general up-skilling of the workforce due to the need for more advanced computer skills (47%). More than one third even feel that there will be a better work-life balance as computers will take over jobs while humans continue to reap the profit.

Concerning future changes of the responsibilities of the management accountant profession, 86% of participants think that the gathering of management information will become automated, followed by process-based aspects of financial accounting (55%), such as auditing. Management accountants will also no longer be interpreting data as this will increasingly be done by software, according to 51% of polled CIMA members. However, a majority thinks that consulting senior leaders (90%) and giving decision-making support and advice (80%) is something that cannot be replaced by automated processes.

Only 29% of surveyed CIMA members believe that the increased automation will lead to a loss of jobs and therefore to greater inequality. This is in stark contrast to the popular view that major job cuts will happen over the coming years as a result of automation and a rise in robotics.

While only 22% answered that a reliance on automation or technology has led to their organisation taking a wrong decision in the past five years, 39% said this has never happened as they know that they cannot solely rely on automated processes. Instead, results are double-checked.

Andrew Harding, CEO of CIMA, said:

Andrew Harding CIMA Global AccountantWhile it’s possible to imagine a nightmare scenario where advances in technology lead to mass redundancies, the world’s finance departments have a less alarmist view. Our members believe that artificial intelligence, robots and other technologies will alter, but not destroy, the jobs of accountants and other professionals. Organisations need to examine their business models and turn innovations such as AI and automation into an opportunity not a threat. There is precedent to support the idea that new technologies will make lives easier. Ever since the invention of the printing press – which led to unemployment for scribes but opened the door to mass education – major disruptions can be seen to have a short-term shock but deliver long-term benefit. The challenge for businesses, as always, is to use change to their advantage