Seeing into the future
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand President Jane Stanton explores the need to uphold the profession’s competencies and values.
- Strong ethics and values provide the pathway to navigate through an increasingly complex and fast-paced business environment.
- Technology has increased the need for empathy and trust in client interactions.
- Our professional body must help us to see into the future and leverage the expertise within the membership.
I was recently preparing for a presentation on the role of the CA advising the financial services industry on the future. I had in mind the many highly engaged university students I’ve met at CA ANZ career evenings. However, when I looked back over what I had written – the importance of a clear purpose statement supported by an appropriate culture, a strategy aligned to risk appetite and effective internal controls – I realised that I am the CA of the future and have been since the day I was admitted to membership in 1994.
The competencies and ethical standards that I first acquired through undertaking the Professional Year (now CA Program) and use every day of my career are as relevant today as when I first joined the profession. However, the environment in which I apply them has changed beyond recognition. Kalamazoo ledgers are now museum pieces, the working day does not end when the mail bag leaves and accounting standards are no longer country specific. In an online, real-time, borderless business environment where humans and machines work side by side and data is one of the most highly valued assets, the fundamentals, such as real-time and reliable internal controls, are more vital than ever before. Even more importantly, strong ethics and values provide the pathway to navigate through an increasingly complex and fast paced business environment.
I am one of those CAs who has not picked up a calculator for over 15 years and yet I leverage the core competencies of a CA every day. However, as my career has evolved, and I have more experience, I view these competencies very differently. An understanding of where profits are derived and costs incurred – management accounting – is an essential input to design effective and embedded risk management processes. An independent assessment of culture and conduct risk – auditing – provides valuable information for a board to assess its effectiveness.
Technology has not removed the need for empathy and trust in client interactions, but increased it.
For those of us working in practice, accounting software, outsourcing and ever more complex compliance requirements have fundamentally changed the way of working and relationships with clients. Technology has not removed the need for empathy and trust in client interactions, but increased it. Effective communication is required to assist clients navigate the complexities of the ever-evolving business environment.
Manual, detective controls make no sense is an automated environment. Data is only valuable if its completeness, currency and accuracy can be assessed. As regulation becomes more complex, it is possible to be compliant but not ethical and therefore not to act in the best interests of the community at large.
Our professional body must facilitate us to see into the future and leverage the expertise that exists within the membership. Therefore, the strategic initiatives prioritised by the CA ANZ Board are the community hub, My CA, and CA Program refresh. When members and employers were asked what the CA Program should cover, the core competencies were broadly consistent. However what needs to be constantly refreshed is how these are applied and the assessment of what is effective.
As a profession, we are often unfairly labelled as conservative or change-resistant. Nothing could be further from the truth – our focus is compliance, change readiness, and sustainable growth and the inputs to support this. More importantly, despite having sustainable, effective and efficient processes, an organisation may still fail. Appropriate values and culture are the foundations of prosperity and this will never change.
Connections for life
CA ANZ President Jane Stanton talks to Acuity about plans for her term, why the CA designation is the passport for building a career abroad and her struggles with mental health.Read more