Many aspire to work in another country in their next role or at some time in their careers, finds an ACCA research
By HABHAJAN SINGH
Who makes the cut to emerge as an accountant of the future? For one, they have to be digital-minded as the entire profession is being driven by globalisation and technology. They also have to be savvy multitaskers with a strong involvement in sustainability issues.
At the other end of the spectrum, some are suggesting that accountants would be out of jobs when artificial intelligence hits the streets in a big way.
At one Financial Reporting Issues conference in New York, executives and accounting educators mulled that the next generation of accountants will be digital-minded, savvy multi-taskers with a strong involvement in sustainability issues.
At a campus level, students are being taught enhanced skills beyond accounting. These include data analysis and utilisation, writing plain accounting articles in English, researching topics and collaboration, Brigham Young University director and EY professor Jeff Wilks told attendees at the Financial Executive International’s Financial Reporting Issues conference on Nov 14.
“These students are highly mission-driven; they care a lot about making a difference in the world, and they see sustainability reporting as one way they can help communicate the good things they’re doing,” he was qouted in a Bloomberg Law report.
Another speaker, Michael Fenlon from Pricewaterhous Coopers, was qouted as saying: “We are living in an age of anxiety and disruption. When we’re on college campuses, we have students asking us ‘will I be automated out of a career?’”
In a comprehensive report by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) released last year, entitled “Professional Accountants — the Future: Generation Next”, it noted that the next generation is a generation of young finance professionals, who are well equipped to deal with the change happening in the profession, that is primarily being driven by globalisation and technology.
“They have a global outlook, often aspiring to work in another country in their next role or at some time in their careers.
“They appear technologically savvy and see technology developments as an opportunity for the profession. They are prepared to switch jobs quickly to attain what they want from their careers, and many have aspirations for careers, both in the accounting and finance profession and beyond at some point,” the report said.
The report forms part of ACCA’s research into the future of accountancy, the drivers of change in the profession and the skills that will be most needed in the future. The outfit said that almost 19,000 ACCA students and members under the age of 36, and from 150 countries, participated in the Generation Next study, making it one of the largest surveys ever across the global profession.
It noted that the report follows ACCA’s “Professional Accountants — the Future: Drivers of Change and Future Skills” report, which outlined the key drivers of change in the profession and the skills most needed in the future.
Generation Next shares initial views of younger finance professionals on their career aspirations and work preferences, what attracts and retains them in organisations, and how they would like to learn.
Among others, the ACCA report noted that finance experience is a valued platform for their future career, and that the next generation is very mobile.
On the former, the Generation Next study deems that entry into the business world by attaining finance and accounting capabilities is a smart strategy.
“In an environment where technology is shaping the future of the profession, our respondents still see finance and accounting experience as a solid platform for skills attainment and career growth — both within and outside of finance and accounting.
“Almost half of them said they were attracted to the profession for the potential long-term career prospects it affords, as well as the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills. Some 85% agreed that finance career background experience would be valuable for organisation leaders in the future,” the report said.