Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Accountants have vital , more strategic role in value creation

Tuesday November 16, 2010

More strategic role for accountants

By ELAINE ANG
elaine@thestar.com.my

This is due to ethical integrity and accountability becoming increasingly vital

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance professionals are expected to take on a more strategic role in corporates in the future with ethical integrity and accountability becoming increasingly important, said Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) chief executive Helen Brand.

“The core technical skills of accountants are recognised and valued but what really matters going forward is the ethical dimension of the profession and the rounded sustainability that professional accounting can bring to business and economies globally.

“In particular, we are looking at issues around risk management and internal control. Businesses are focusing more on this and see professional accountants providing value in that sphere,” she told StarBiz.

Brand said that according to ACCA’s recent report, The value creation model for business: 2010 and beyond, business leaders believed that accountants helped to improve the ethical standards across an organisation.
Helen Brand says business leaders believe that accountants help to improve the ethical standards across an organisation.
 
Some 58% of the respondents believe this guardianship role will become more important in the future.
The research also noted that the role of the finance professional was now more visible and more responsible since the global financial crisis and this visibility and responsibility would grow in the future.

In addition, business leaders expect accountants to bring greater oversight and supervision in an increasingly global regulatory environment and help organisations manage risk more effectively.

Two-thirds of the respondents placed risk management and internal control among the top skills required of accountants going forward.

The survey, which was launched at the World Congress of Accountants 2010 last week, sought the opinions of over 500 senior business people in nine countries.

Brand said one of the ways that accountants could add value was by looking at the investment and financial aspects that would provide a sustainable future to businesses.

“Another issue is governance. Many chief financial officers (CFOs) have a higher profile in the boardroom now and this adding of sound financial accounting advice and good governance framework will help businesses develop,” she said.
 
Brand said accountants had been taking on a strategic role for a long time and it was basically the recognition of that role and the integration of the financial and strategic aspects that would be emphasised going forward.
“CFOs are being brought more firmly into the centre of decision-making.

“We are seeing more CFOs becoming CEOs in many markets. This used to be a myth as CFOs do not have the appropriate profile to become the CEO,” she said.

Brand said accountants would play a critical role in ensuring that the world would not be hit by the same problems that resulted in the recent financial crisis again and that the right financial information and strategies were pursued.

“We see it as a golden age for accountants going forward, where their value will be truly understood,” she added.

On the roles of accountants in the next decade, Brand sees the profession becoming more dominated by women.

“The majority of new members in ACCA are female. Research has shown that if women entered the boardroom then there is diversity of approach that strengthens the business,” she said.

 By ELAINE ANG
Elaine@thestar.com.my

Panellists: They are moving away from traditional accounting practices

KUALA LUMPUR: Accountants have an important role in assisting their organisations create value and sustain long term growth, industry experts said.

Panellists at the World Congress of Accountants 2010 plenary session, entitled Accountants: Sustaining Value Creation in the Borderless Economy, said accountants were moving away from traditional accounting practices and playing a more active strategic role in their organisations and in turn help economic growth.

China’s Ministry of Finance vice minister Dr Wang Jun said the global accountancy profession should constantly play a more active role in driving economic recovery and growth.

Dr Wang Jun

“In doing so, the profession continuously creates value for society,” he said at the session yesterday.

He said accountants and accounting bodies globally should bring fuller into play the supervising and alerting role to promote economic recovery and assist the economy to meet challenges post crisis.

In addition, Wang said the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) should actively participate in international economic affairs and help the accountancy profession to make greater contributions to the world economy.

“Accountants in all jusrisdictions must further strengthen cooperation in the accountancy profession and improve the competitiveness of the accounting industry,” he said.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar highlighted three key points – trust, relevance and leadership - to enable accountants to create value sustainably in their organisations and the economy.

“We need to go back to the basics and rebuild the trust in the profession. From the investor standpoint, we need information that is relevant, reliable and understandable.

“Once we regain the trust, then we can look at how to chart the way forward,” he said.

London School of Economics (Department of Accounting) Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) professor of accounting and financial management Professor Wim A. Van der Stede said that according to a global survey by CIMA, momentum towards greater responsibility was likely to continue for accountants the world over although the degree might differ geographically.

“The results underscore that there remains significant pressure for financial professionals to move into roles that add more value to their organisations and broaden their responsibility beyond traditional accounting tasks.

“Keeping the numbers in order do not span the entire extent of an accountant’s reach as major corporations need financial professionals who understand risk, financial instruments and other complex functions and be able to offer strategic guidance to executives and enter boardrooms as peers,” he said.

AICPA certified public accountant Olivia Faulkner Kirtley said it was key to embed sustainability into the DNA of a company.

“The accounting profession has a role to play. They need to present the business case to senior management, to help develop a reporting system and processes and influence the mindset of the people in the organisation,” she said.

The session was chaired by IFAC president Robert Bunting.

Meanwhile, at a press conference later, Bunting said one of the key challenges for the accounting profession post financial crisis was a greater examination of the role of the accountants and its future.

On fair value accounting and its usefulness, Kirtley said it was the accountants’ role to help investors gain an understanding of it and help investors to make decisions.

Van der Stede said the important role for an accountant was to produce reliable information in a fair value environment.

Azman had questioned the relevance of fair value accounting in today’s reporting system.— ENDS-

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