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Accounting professionals need to adopt new technologies

ACCA official tells FE

Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan | December 19, 2018 12:00:00

Lindsay Degouve De Nuncques

Accounting professionals in Bangladesh and across the world need to adopt new technologies to cope with the ever changing business environment, said a top official of a global body for professional accountants.

Simultaneously, the accountants in today's dynamic business world need to focus even more on 'interpersonal relationships' in order to drive value, said Lindsay Degouve De Nuncques, the Middle East Head of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

"The environment accountants work is changing rapidly and technology is the biggest driver of that change," Ms. Nuncques, who was in Dhaka last week, said in an interview with the FE.

"New business models are emerging at a faster pace as a variety of new technologies are being utilized in different ways. And, I think, capitalising on those technologies is really important," she added.

The ACCA top official observed that there is a huge opportunity for Bangladesh and other countries to 'leapfrog with some of these technological advancements'.

"When you don't have the legacy systems in place which some other countries do, it means that you can take quicker moves to adopt new technologies."

"This is something we have seen with mobile phones in Bangladesh. Previously, when Bangladesh only had land phones, access to telecommunication services was quite low. But once the mobile phones came, this country was quite quick to adopt that."

"The same thing can happen with other technologies as well. You can adopt that quickly and you can have professional accountants to help navigate that," she said.

The ACCA high official also observed that apart from digital skills, interpersonal skills are also becoming critical for professional accountants in today's world. "In a world of new technology, an accountant has to focus even more on the interpersonal relationships in order to drive value."

"When you have got the lower level tasks automated, all an accountant has got to do is to provide insights and advise to the wider organisation."

"In order to do that, you need to communicate clearly and you need to be able to build relationships across and outside business. And that needs skills like empathy, growth mindset and influence."

In recent years, Bangladesh has made several legislative moves to further streamline and regulate its financial reporting procedures. Notable among them is the Financial Reporting Act which was passed in the parliament in 2015.

Focusing on these developments, Ms. Nuncques said that such moves would be helpful in bringing more investment into the country.

"I see this as a really positive move to make sure that Bangladesh is fully open to international business," she said. "Because, when you have got strong national regulations, that gives confidence to multinationals to come here and invest."

"It enables such organisations to have a long term plan to invest in Bangladesh while also supporting national organisations to develop effectively."

During his stay in the capital, Ms. Nuncques attended the South Asian Federation of Accountancy (SAFA) Conference of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs).

Reflecting on the event, she said, "It was incredibly motivating and reassuring that there are clear corporate governance and regulation in place for organisations and CFOs are embedded into that corporate governance legislation."

"There are two strong national bodies like ICMAB and ICAB alongside international bodies like ACCA."

"The purpose of all these professional bodies is to make sure that accountants have got the technical competence, ethical obligation and ongoing continued professional development."

The ACCA high official also observed that Bangladesh's growing economy means that the country needs to draw more young people to accounting profession in coming years.

"It is absolutely critical in all economies to make sure that they have people with strong technical knowledge in accountancy," she said.

"With a growing economy and a huge population, it is even more crucial for Bangladesh to get more people interested in accountancy and make them professionally qualified," she added.

"The role of ACCA in this case is to make sure that high quality institutions are in place while students are also interested in accounting as a field of study."

"We need to talk to the next generation about what a career in accountancy actually means and make them realise that it is an exciting and rewarding career."

"We also need to work with the employers to make them recognise the value of this professional qualification so that they get really robust finance and accounting departments in their respective entities," she added.

Founded in 1904, ACCA is the global body for professional accountants. It has 208,000 members and 503,000 students in 179 countries.

ACCA started its operation in Bangladesh in 2008 and now it has more than 500 members and affiliates as well as 5,000 students staying in Bangladesh.

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