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Lack of ‘trust’ is holding back economic integration in South East Asia, say Chartered Accountants

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The latest report from Chartered Accountants Worldwide suggests that a lack of trust is one of the factors holding back the establishment of a flourishing, integrated economy in South East Asia. In ‘Critical Success Factors for Tomorrow’s Business Leaders: Perspectives from South East Asia’, the report argues that businesses need to develop more of a ‘corporate conscience’ by instilling a set of values within their organisations.

The report follows an international summit held in Singapore where senior CEOs, CFOs and executives, together with the heads of global Chartered Accountancy bodies, discussed the challenging new business agenda facing future finance professionals. The report notes the importance of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), created in 2015, which aims to develop an integrated regional economy. It also covers issues ranging from corruption, wide disparities in income distribution and the development of future leaders.

The report identifies accountancy as a “moral science” and notes that chartered accountants should play the role of “ethical guides”. It draws on the close relationship between the profession and accountability. However, business leaders noted that in South East Asia, this morality is more often reactive than proactive. Accountants have traditionally focussed on preventing things from going wrong instead of building a culture when it becomes natural to do what is right. Changing this approach is critical to building trust across the region and tackling corruption.

The report also examines how nurturing talent and seeking guidance of chartered accountants can help narrow the gaps in economic development and income in ASEAN.

Read the full report here.