Date posted: 8/08/2018 4 min read

Supporting the accounting profession into the future

Rick Ellis, CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, explains how the organisation-wide transformation will proactively support and strengthen the profession of the future.

In Brief

  • The what, who and how of accounting is being fundamentally transformed with much more diversity and disruption than experienced in the past.
  • A key priority in taking on the CEO role was to engage with our members, and together develop a clear strategy and direction.
  • The Strategic Review involved more than 100 workshops with CA ANZ members and stakeholders.

By Rick Ellis

Professions are changing with leaps in technology, mobility and artificial/augmented intelligence and globalisation, contributing to unprecedented levels of uncertainty and competition. 

Our recent report, Future of Business, revealed that approximately 40% to 60% of jobs will change as a result of automation, augmentation and accessing flexible talent.

Like all professions, the what, who and how of accounting is being fundamentally transformed with much more diversity and disruption than experienced in the past. It is a profession that must continue to grow and evolve, so we can thrive in the 21st century.

During this current technological evolution, the profession recognises the need to prepare for, and embrace, global challenges and opportunities in the business environments in which we serve and operate.

The impact of technology is shifting the need and focus of work away from the traditional skillsets of accounting professionals. Accountants are no longer bean counters and the traditional activity of bookkeeping is now largely commoditised. Accountants are now using technology to free themselves up to add further value to businesses and take on a more strategic advisory role with clients.

Now the profession’s challenge is to expand its capacity and capabilities to embrace new technologies and apply core accounting skills to a wider range of services such as solving highly complex business problems. We need to have a diverse range of influences, skills, viewpoints and ideas.

The traditional view of the profession – as an analytical and black-and-white role – is evolving into the profession of the future – as sense makers, growth accelerators, critical thinkers and digitally savvy.

Strategic Review

A key priority on taking on the CEO role was to engage with our members, and together develop a clear strategy and direction for today and for the long-term. Our Strategic Review engaged with stakeholders, including businesses, government agencies and key segments and geographies within our membership, with over 100 workshops across Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the United Kingdom held during the past few months.

We are ... exploring a range of new ways for our members to engage with us to make it a richer, more meaningful experience
Rick Ellis CEO Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

The strategy discovery, invention and design process instigated our organisation-wide transformation so that we can proactively support and strengthen the profession of the future for the benefit of our members, their clients and the communities they serve. 

Our findings show that employers are actively recruiting and developing more diverse pools of talent, hiring graduates across a broader range of disciplines to meet market demand for “well-rounded” accounting professionals. This has resulted in the development of more flexible pathways into the CA Program and further embedding its relevance for the profession while preserving the pre-eminence of the CA designation. 

In today’s connected world, members have high expectations for accessing tools, services and information at any time, from anywhere. Therefore we are looking at new channels of engagement, enhancing existing channels and exploring a range of new ways for our members to engage with us to make it a richer, more meaningful experience. 

Embracing these trends and facing these challenges head-on is essential in future-proofing our profession. It is critical that the accounting profession prospers as the world changes around it. 

Rick Ellis was appointed as CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand in August 2017. He has more than 30 years of trans-Tasman leadership experience across industries including IT, aviation, telecommunications, media and the cultural sector.

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