28 December 2016

Africa: What Will Drive Accounting

opinion

The recently released report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) titled: Professional accountant - The Future, could offer insight into the future. The new global report points to key drivers that will impact the accounting profession technically, ethically and eventually influence the interpersonal skills and competencies that will be vital to match the evolutionary changes in the accounting profession.

Integrity

The report emphasises the fact that professional accountants will be expected to make professional judgments and in so doing, exercise the highest standards of integrity, independence and scepticism.

Ms Blessing Nshaho, the CEO of Asset Business Solutions, says: "Today's Accountants should embrace their role as financial advisors and strategic decision makers to harness business intelligence and leverage new technologies to shape the future for their companies and organisations and ultimately our economies."

The report provides a fresh perspective on the outlook for professional accountants and their role in society over the decade to 2025. Professional accountants of the future will need to develop and demonstrate the ability to combine their technical knowledge, skills and abilities with interpersonal behaviours and qualities in order to fill gaps in the six major technical areas such as audit and assurance, corporate reporting, financial management, strategic planning, performance management, tax and governance, risk and ethics.

Taking such a strategic direction, the accounting profession will demonstrate potential in shaping the financial sectors and the economy towards the changes in business practices, geographies, roles, responsibilities and regulations that will emerge before 2025.

New knowledge required

Ugandan accountancy technocrats will require knowledge of new models for business, funding sources, payments, services and production. Some will need to become expert users of relevant emerging technologies, for example, the youth of smart software, video and social media to improve collaboration, disclosure, presentation and stakeholder engagement.

Mr Japheth Katto, the former CEO, Capital Market Authority, says: "Any organisation that thinks ahead must invest in research. Leading companies invest in research and development. I find ACCA's Professional Insights a class above the rest. I refer to them whenever I am preparing papers, articles or presentations on diverse topics be it capital markets, corporate governance or state of the world economy. The recent publication; Professional Accountants - The Future is a must read for all professional accountants and other professionals. I like the professional quotients and my favourites are creative and digital. This is where innovation comes in and in tomorrow's world if you are not creative and digital you will become extinct. Of course all the other quotients are equally important, especially ethics," he concluded.

Implement sustainable development goals

Speaking to other professional accountants, Ms Joyce Tamale, the chairperson ACCA Uganda member's Network Panel, says: "It's important for accountants to implement the Sustainable Development Goals with a sense of opportunity and purpose based on an accurate evaluation of where the world stands now." More so, according to the report, the new normals in accountancy will be caused by reaction to regulation, technology transformation and its impact on business and the opportunities and challenges brought about by globalisation.

Most professional accountants will experience the influence of the rising profile of tax, greater emphasis on tax transparency and increases in government tax action and information sharing. Professional accountants involved in tax advice, compliance, reporting, planning and risk management will be most keenly aware of these developments, as they must assess the associated technical, practical and ethical challenges and communicate these to an increasing number of stakeholders. As harmonisation of principles of accounting and business standards increase, so will the global mobility of qualified professional accountants, along with the need to build ethnically and culturally diverse teams.

Furthermore, Ms Diana Ssali, internal auditor of Umeme, remarked that ACCA's 'Future Accountant' findings could not have been timelier in providing insights to professional accounts on the skills and knowledge that will be critical to navigate the changes that will mostly impact the profession in the coming years. From increasing globalisation and regulation, digitisation, strategy and most importantly people skills, the report serves as a guide to any professional accountant looking to ensure that they remain both relevant and impactful in an ever-changing world.

The writer is a public relations practitioner based in Kampala.

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