Chartered Accountants share thoughts on trends shaping tomorrow’s business

Max Loh

In the business world, many trends are shaping what the future will look like, and Chartered Accountants have a front-row seat as the change happens.

Automation changing Chartered Accountants skills

Outsourcing and automation are changing traditional finance functions like accounts payable or reporting. Those forces will change how Chartered Accountants approach the role, says Skullcandy’s head of finance Laila Giwa. “You need to make sure you aren’t just relying on your technical skills but on your commercial acumen because one day, a lot of what you saw as your original job will either be outsourced or done by a machine,” she says.

Karen Hennessy, CEO of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, says technology brings risks such as cybercrime and opportunities like the Internet of Things. She believes there’s a “huge opportunity” for Chartered Accountants to provide their clients with guidance in navigating the new digital world.

Digital drives growth

Digital technology will bring new growth opportunities for the audit profession, adds Max Loh, Managing Partner with EY’s Singapore and Asean offices. With a profession empowered through data and analytics to deliver deeper levels of analysis, they can help clients to pre-empt and proactively manage anticipated risk. “This opens up new opportunities in risk management and governance,” says Max.

“There is also a huge opportunity for audit to collaborate with or cross-train professionals from other disciplines such as IT, cyber, engineering and HR to develop client service teams that address and advise on broader business and IT operations and strategy issues,” he adds.

Leadership movement

Another business trend is seeing Chartered Accountants taking more prominent roles at the head of a business. “I see the profession taking more leadership roles, becoming CEOs of some of the leading companies in the world,” says John Chiwele, CFO of Zambia’s Mopani Copper Mines.

“The days of a CFO sitting in his department looking after the finances have gone. Now you need to be ready to mix more and take part in all the areas of the business, and being part of the decision-making process itself,” John says.

Diversity making a difference

Diversity is another major trend shaping global business, adds Max Loh. “I personally believe that diversity is a huge competitive differentiator and an advantage … but the real challenge lies in making diversity work,” he says.