Chief Executive of ACCA
(The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)
Helen Brand, could you tell us about
(the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global
body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant,
first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and
ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy,
finance and management.
What does the future hold for the
Through a worldwide network of 89 offices and centres and more than
8,500 Approved Employers, who provide high standards of employee
learning and development, we work to support our 162,000 members
and 426,000 students in 173 countries, helping them to develop successful
careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by
We are committed to work in the public interest, and as such, we
promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant
research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and
Since it was founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique
core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability.
We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages
of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and
encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned
to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through
our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek
to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove
artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery
to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers
wherever they may be around the globe.
there are clearly shifts in economic stability and strength, from
Western Europe and the US to the vibrant economies of Asia and South
America. This is no better encapsulated than the growth in the economic
muscle of the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China of
which India, thanks to some sound differentiators and attributes,
is and will continue to be, one of the key magnets for countries
and companies to work with from around the world.
Are there issues which specifically
impact on India?
There is also extreme economic uncertainty along with political
transitions in many regions.
At the same time, the business landscape is being reshaped by a
combination of market volatility, globalisation and transformational
innovation. The impact of these challenges is compounded by rapid
advances in science and technology, demographic shifts and disruptive
new business models.
To enable ACCA to understand the future, we recently conducted a
global survey and produced a report called 100 Drivers of Change.
This looked at what is influencing the global economy and how accountants
might respond to the new landscape.
There were a number of implications for the accountancy profession
to arise from our findings. For example, it needs to go beyond current
financial reporting practices to provide a more transparent, simplified
but holistic picture of a firm's health and prospects.
Additionally, we expect more regulation and greater momentum in
the drive to globalise accounting standards and practices, and there are
increasing expectations that the CFO and accountancy function should
play a far greater role in everything from strategic decision making
to the design of new revenue models.
To meet those challenges we believe that the profession needs to
embrace an enlarged strategic and commercial role. As businesses
adapt to a turbulent environment, opportunities are emerging for
accountants to assume a far greater organisational remit.
The pace of global expansion of firms from developed and developing
markets alike is placing the spotlight on accountancy's ability
to master the technical, language and cultural challenges of cross-border
There is more opportunity than ever for accountants to work around
the world and with a range of global clients. ACCA has always focused
on in ensuring our finance professionals have the edge in a global
marketplace, by ensuring their training is based on international
financial reporting standards; that they are equipped with the skills
they need to succeed anywhere, and that employers recognise the
value of the qualification and the ACCA designation.
the areas in which India is already leading the way is in the rise
of the international finance and accounting super hubs.
We expect that organisations looking to set up finance shared service
centres, or to tap into business process outsourcing operations,
will increasingly concentrate demand in key centres where shared
service and outsourcing operations will aggregate.
These key centres will become innovation hubs for finance operations
and, through their association with large organisations' brands,
will represent low-risk, desirable choices for finance departments
seeking to establish shared service operations or outsourced relationships.
Until now, the key driver behind the rise of shared services and
outsourcing is well established as cost, primarily labour arbitrage
in cheaper offshore locations.
But we believe the situation is changing - and access to talent
is taking precedence over cost as a driver in places where finance
operations through shared services and outsourcing are based.
Organisations will look closely at the capability profiles in certain locations, matching skills to work, and source and invest in senior talent in locations that they view as key talent pools.
As a result, the finance career proposition may become location-sensitive,
and of real significance to places such as India with its outstanding
pool of talent.
So how does ACCA believe it has a
role to play in this new financial landscape?
However, technology will have a significant impact on the role finance
professionals will perform in the future, and will dramatically
reshape the remit and purpose of the finance function, and "what"
gets done "where".
shared services as a starting point, they have resulted in the emergence
of new career paths.
Are Indian ACCA members using these
skills to succeed?
Relatively young finance professionals are assuming job responsibilities
that it took baby boomers in many countries, 20 years or more to
learn - and earn.
They are now managing accounts, processes and/or teams, replacing
managers who may be as much as twice their age. The workers who
are managing them onshore, or process leaders who interface with
these younger workers daily, may have different attitudes towards
work, company loyalty, goals, lifestyle requirements and communication
As organisational priorities shift from survival to growth, it is
no surprise that even more value will be placed on finance capabilities
that develop the business: virtual management skills, customer and
partner-relationship expertise, ability to facilitate change and
communicate, and commercial acumen.
This presents a challenge to bodies such as ACCA, which is why we
regularly speak to employers to ask them what it is that they want
from professional bodies and their qualifications.
That is why we undertook a survey of more than 500 chief financial
officers for ACCA's report, The complete finance professional 2013:
Why breadth and depth of finance matter in today's finance function.
This identified the key financial areas that CFOs said they need
in the finance function, and apart from the need for accounting
professionals to behave and act ethically and professionally, financial
management and financial analysis were seen as particularly high-impact
areas, followed closely by governance risk and control, strategic
management accounting and corporate reporting. Internal audit, tax
advice and planning were also widely considered to have considerable
Following that feedback, ACCA a competency framework to ensure that
aspiring finance professionals, employers and tuition providers
are clear about the key skills demanded in an increasingly globalised
and rapidly changing business environment.
These are: professionalism and ethics; governance, risk and control;
stakeholder relationship management; strategy and innovation; leadership
and management; corporate reporting; sustainable management accounting;
financial management; audit and assurance and taxation.
We work to ensure that the ACCA Qualification comprehensively covers
these abilities and behaviours through its exams, practical experience
requirement and the ethics module.
ACCA firmly believes that the achievement of our members is what
makes the ACCA qualification globally coveted. Our members have
demonstrated skills and knowledge in various fields and industries;
are passionate about ACCA and thereby contribute richly to the accounting
profession and growth in whichever economy they ply their trade.
Our members reflect ACCA values of ethics, integrity and diversity
and ACCA takes pride that they are looked on as complete finance
professionals in whichever field they choose to work in.
ACCA members have been working with leading Indian as well as multinational
companies both in and outside India and are equipped with a wealth
of expertise which helps them excel in their careers. Within India,
ACCA members work with companies such as the Big 4 (KPMG, Ernst
& Young, Deloitte, Pricewaterhouse Coopers) , Shell, HSBC, SOS India,
JP Morgan, International Monetary Fund (IMF), IBM India, Accenture,
Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Steria India to name a few.
What sets ACCA and its members apart is that we train our members
and members of the future to deliver public value. This is our key
priority ever since ACCA was founded over a hundred years ago. We
have built the system of sustainable and ethical accounting in the
syllabus and every student is trained on it. Our members are aware
of their responsibilities towards societies as well as their commitments
to ethics is reinforced by continued CPD throughout their membership