Dear Esteemed Members,
When thinking about education and the Accountancy profession, many questions come to mind. Is today’s education designed to meet the challenges of the future? What should be the common body of knowledge prescribed for career aspirations in professional accountancy? Can we define the skills of the future accountant? How should we embed professional scepticism in the education process? Is the importance of CPD recognised or is it seen as a burden?
The accounting profession will face significant changes in the coming years, and professional organisations, their members, and educational institutions must respond accordingly. The evolving smart and digital technology, continued globalization of reporting and disclosure standards, and new forms of regulation are also major challenges for the profession.
The future accountants will use increasingly sophisticated and smart technologies to enhance their traditional ways of working, and these technologies might even replace the traditional approach.
Globalisation will create more opportunities and challenges to the accounting profession. It encourages the free flow of money from one capital market to another, enhances overseas outsourcing activities, as well as stimulate exchange of professional & technical skills. That said it will also compromise and curtail the ability to resolve local problems.
Increased regulation, and the associated disclosure rules, will have the greatest impact on the profession for years to come.
Therefore, one cannot help but ask, do our current teaching methodologies prepare the young generations adequately for the skillset, which the future workforce will need?
Education in digital technology has now become imperative. The future skills will focus, amongst others, on cloud computing, the use of big data, globalisation and the outsourcing of accounting services, evolving regulations vis a vis tax regulation, adopting new forms of corporate reporting as well as integrated reporting regulation.
Adoption of technology and digital competence are the key areas creating the skills gap in the profession. At present, accountants lack knowledge in transformation of new disclosure regulations, new forms of disclosures, and awareness of the interconnectedness of financial and non-financial reporting. Professional accountants will need the skills to provide all-inclusive and holistic corporate reporting, which is less about the numbers and more about the narrative of the organisation.
It cannot be stressed enough, that the future of the accounting profession in our rapidly changing society will be determined not only by the profession’s adaptability and utilisation of the expanded opportunities, but also by the intellectual vigour, calibre, and skill of its members.
There is no simple response to the various questions put forward, however it is an opportunity to think about the future and the role of education. In order to assist current and future professional accountants to retain their competitive edge, our aim as an Institute is to guide students and our members, the accountants in the right path, to achieve the required knowledge and skills in this ongoing educational journey.