Date posted: 01/02/2022 10 min read

Build Back Better

From changes in tax and audit to climate change action, we asked CAs and CA ANZ’s divisional experts what to expect in 2022.

In Brief

  • Experts believe the only way forward is to think bigger and do better, rather than trying to return to the status quo.
  • Businesses are looking to CAs for advice on how to adapt and thrive in the changing economic environment.
  • 2022 will be a year for action across all areas, including climate change, cyber security, diversity and problem solving throughout the industry.
By Hannah Tattersall

Tax

Michael Croker CA
Tax leader, Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Budget repair or election promises?

“Australia’s 2022 federal election campaign will be fascinating from a tax perspective. Every Australian voter knows there’s a budget deficit to fix and government debts to repay. But will the political parties level with the Australian public about their real post-election tax and spend plans?

“Any policies to woo voters will attract the obvious question: ‘How are you going to pay for all this?’

More digitalisation for CAs

“The ATO is shaping up to be a lead agency in implementing the federal government’s Digital Economy Strategy and CAs will again be in the front line helping clients and businesses to adapt. Digitalisation also has big ramifications for the government sector in that political leaders will expect to see a return on investment.

“For every individual CA affected, the challenge will be to acquire and demonstrate high-level technical and relationship skills which can’t be replaced by a technological solution.”

John Cuthbertson FCA
Tax leader, New Zealand, CA ANZ

Grappling with rule changes

“2022 will be another busy year as residential property and interest limitation changes bite, trustees grapple with the new domestic trust disclosure rules, further changes are considered for the administration of the tax system, a Tax Principles Act is introduced and domestic tax legislation is drafted to enable NZ’s commitment to the OECD’s consensus on international taxing rights for large multinational businesses.

“The risks and opportunities for CAs in 2022 are linked to the pace and scale of change, not only to tax legislation but also to the tax ‘ecosystem’ and how we interact with it.”

Build Back Better

Financial advice

Bronny Speed FCA
CA Financial Planning Specialist, CFP, Leader – Financial Advice, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Regulatory burden

“Now that the Hayne Royal Commission recommendations have been enacted into the law, (which has taken up an incredible amount of time on regulatory issues), it would be nice to see the focus of our advocacy work on helping our members to provide high-quality advice at a more affordable cost.

“The regulatory burden that members in financial advice face, coupled with the FASEA [Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority] reforms... will see many CA ANZ members leave the financial advice space. This is truly detrimental to the public interest, as there are no better placed quality financial advisers than chartered accountants. Opportunities exist to ‘replenish’ the supply of CAs in financial advice via the new CA Program.”

Funding business

Rayna Toman CA
Chief Financial Officer / Chief Operating Officer at Australian Business Growth Fund

SME success is critical

“With 60% of employment growth attributed to small-medium enterprises (SMEs), the success of these businesses is critical post-pandemic to drive future economic growth and stimulate more jobs.

“The ABGF was established as a public-private partnership with a mandate to assist SMEs with access to minority-only growth capital and business expertise. We are a purpose-built growth fund looking to invest between A$5-$15 million in businesses with a proven model and more than A$2 million in revenue (COVID-adjusted) to fill that vital gap between late-stage venture capital and larger buyout funds.”

Taking good habits forward

Joyce Low FCA
Director, Governance and Risk and Chief Financial Officer
Public Service Commission

Joyce Low FCAPicture: Joyce Low FCA.

Risks and opportunities

“The public sector has done tremendously well in the past two years by pivoting to working remotely and increasing productivity. The emphasis on uplifting digital capability, wellbeing and mental health for our employees continues. As a CA working in the public sector, my focus is on strengthening governance around financial management and decisions and embedding a strong risk culture in the organisation.

“It would be a great shame if we didn’t learn from the pandemic and instead revert back to our old ways of working. We should continue to ask ourselves: What have we learnt and how can we do better?”

Guy Pearson CA
CEO at Practice Ignition

Guy Pearson CAPicture: Guy Pearson CA.

Addressing the funding shortage

“Although 2020 and 2021 saw a huge influx in investment dollars into late-stage start-ups/scale-ups, there’s still a shortage of early stage funding and few funds tackling this to help get ideas out of the side hustle and moving to the primary work source.

“Australia and New Zealand, for too long, have had great ideas and not commercialised them due to lack of capital at the early stage (wifi, Google Maps, etc). Personally, I’d like to see our region move towards selling our IP, can-do attitude and resilience in the form of commercialisation of better ways of doing things, to the world.”

Keep the focus

“For CAs, COVID has forced our hands to get back into the mode of thinking solely of utilisation (what is the greatest utilisation of a dollar spent) and working on business models, three-way forecasts, pricing, etc. Whether it’s in house or with our clients, we need to make sure we don’t lose sight of this mode of operation and slip back into our old ways.

“We need to challenge ourselves and those we serve to take it up a notch, go deep on the business and focus on driving returns on the triple bottom line. Let the technology do the transaction coding and let’s focus on where to next.”

Reporting, audit and assurance

Matthew Graham FCA
Managing partner - assurance at PwC

The ESG reporting revolution

“I am most looking forward to broadening the conversation with investors, companies and regulators on the importance of some guidelines and expectations relating to reporting in all areas of ESG. As debt and equity markets continue to put a premium on these ‘social licence to operate’ areas, they will become even more critical.

“Current disclosures range from short paragraphs to hundreds of pages and investors deserve more consistency and transparency. It will be fascinating to be a part of the evolution of this conversation.”

CAs need to think big

“I think the biggest risk as an industry in 2022 and beyond is we don’t ‘think big enough’. The past two years have taught us that our new world has more ambiguity and uncertainty than any of us have experienced in our careers.

“For leaders, this can create opportunity, but for many others the initial reactions are caution and anxiety.

“If we forget about ‘assurance’ as the name of a business and think of it as a ‘feeling’, then together we could provide more assurance than we do today to investors on the things that matter most to them, such as cybersecurity, climate, gender equality, modern slavery and financial forecasts. It’s going to be such a purposeful time to be an auditor.”

Amir Ghandar FCA
Leader - reporting and assurance, CA ANZ

Meaningful steps

“2022 will see us move from lofty summits and declarations around climate and sustainability onto the painstaking work of setting frameworks and standards to make consistent, reliable reporting and assurance an everyday reality. Material climate impacts and expectations on financial reporting will continue to get sharper.

“Meanwhile, 2022 finally brings some urgency into making auditing standards simpler and more suited to SME and micro audits. Dealing with this is something CA ANZ has been advocating for years, and meaningful steps stand to help a huge population of not-for-profits, clubs, strata and community living, small charities, and SMSFs.”

Karen McWilliams FCA
Business reform leader, CA ANZ, Board director at Global Compact Network Australia

AML should be on the radar

“Anti-money laundering (AML) should be on all CAs’ radars for 2022. In New Zealand, we will see the outcomes from the recent statutory review and hopefully indications of any changes to the regime. We also expect our exemption for tax transfers under the AMT/CFT Act 2009 to be finalised.

“In Australia, we await the report from the Senate inquiry into Australia’s AML regime due in March. This is likely to recommend the inclusion of gatekeeper professions, including accountants, into the regime.”

Sustainability

Sarah Hyland CA
Founder and managing director at Together Business

Sarah Hyland CAPicture: Sarah Hyland CA.

How to measure value

“I believe we are on the cusp of major, world-changing advances in sustainability, finance, Indigenous business and green technology.

“Chartered accountants have a unique role in building sustainable organisations. As we transition from an asset-based economy to a value-based one, chartered accountants will increasingly need to demonstrate how they help their clients measure, manage and create value for them.

“To do so effectively, CAs must move beyond traditional financial reporting towards integrated reporting, where they will be expected to understand how each part of their clients’ organisation fits together in order to advise them more effectively.”

Bruce Gilkison FCA
Director at Climate for Change

Bruce Gilkison FCAPicture: Bruce Gilkison FCA.

Planning and action must start now

“I hope to see detailed plans from the Australian and NZ governments on how to reach their ‘net-zero’ emissions targets by 2050. Planning and action must start now. Failure to plan is a plan to fail.

“I want to see businesses everywhere building on the incredible momentum around COP26, including the multi-trillion dollar commitments from the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. And I look forward to CA ANZ providing more climate-related education.

“Climate change is an existential threat. However, we understand its causes and how to mitigate it. Our opportunity is to embrace learning and use our skills, hearts and influence to lead the change we need. We should guide businesses we work with to cut emissions by at least 7% a year, for a more sustainable future.”

Andrew Smith CA
Chief financial officer, CH4 Global

True colours shine through

“Optimistically, 2022 is going to be the year where our elected political leaders step up and show true leadership on climate change. Above all, I want to see these leaders act with urgency – real urgency.

“One of the positives to come out of COP26 was a consensus agreement on the fundamentals (per Article 6) necessary for implementation of a carbon market.

“There is a real opportunity here for our profession to show leadership towards creating a reliable carbon market.”

Technology

Heather Smith FCA
Founder at ANISE consulting, ambassador for innovation, CA ANZ

Work from anywhere

“There’s been up to seven years of software adoption in the last two. I look forward to robots taking on as many mundane and repetitive tasks as possible, leaving accountants to do the interesting, human-facing work.

“With more businesses embracing cloud accounting and digital technology, accountants are well placed to access timely clean data to surface information for fast, informed decision-making. I see infinite scope for accountants leveraging affordable reporting, analysis and forecasting tools.

“With the promising outlook of eased border restrictions, accountants have the opportunity to expand their horizons of working from home to working from anywhere in the world. Combined with the growing gig economy, and talent shortage, I think 2022 shall see more accountants embrace this lifestyle.”

Yuri Melo ACA
Partner (consulting) - Advanced Security Centre, Ernst & Young

Ransomware attacks still threaten

“With the looming threat of ransomware attacks across all sectors, we have recognised that defensive and offensive security teams are largely operating in silos. To improve, I am looking forward to seeing more collaborative exercises that will allow both teams to gain practical experience and share knowledge and techniques.

“Attack and penetration testing is a key validation exercise that provides valuable insight on the effectiveness of implemented security controls.

“In Australia, we have seen a push from regulators and government for organisations to actively perform controls testing, with a focus on CPS234 from APRA, the CORIE framework from CFR, and amendments to the Critical Infrastructure Act and the Privacy Act.

“2022 provides CAs with the opportunity to be prepared for these changes by focusing on strategy and approach updates and preparation exercises. Those who don’t risk falling behind and missing this opportunity.”

Diversity

Laura Conti CA
Co-founder at #GoKindly social enterprise

Laura Conti CAPicture: Laura Conti CA.

A time for change

“I’m looking forward to seeing a new government formed, with a focus on delivering equity and inclusion for women and under-represented people in Australia. The looming federal election is an opportunity for Australians to vote for candidates who support diversity targets being introduced for government and private sectors, and to support the Uluru Statement from The Heart.

“The digital economy and technology holds so much opportunity. In particular, I look forward to more women and under-represented people starting their own ecommerce brands and carving out a space for themselves. Technology can empower change.

“Consumers are increasingly demanding that brands work to end social inequality – so if you want the best employees and loyal customers in 2022, this is your opportunity to demonstrate you pay fairly, that you offer fair contracts and hire and respect people from diverse backgrounds.”

Ming Long AM FCA
Chair of Capital Funds Management, AMP

Ming Long AM FCAPicture: Ming Long AM FCA.

Issues that need facing

“The world is changing quickly and we must change with it. The investment we have made in the CA Program provides an extraordinary foundation to build a profession that challenges the status quo and is part of the solutions to the world’s hardest problems.

“And we must make a difference to the world’s greatest problems. We must lead with courage because not everyone is going to be happy with us.

“My appeal to all CAs is be courageous, be compassionate, be humble – remember your north star because together with the diversity of the members we have, we can achieve much.”

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