'We’ve undertaken the largest and most in-depth survey of the global marketplace for accountants we’ve ever conducted'
To plan for our members’ futures and what organisations will need from them, we’ve undertaken the largest and most in-depth survey of the global marketplace for accountants we’ve ever conducted. This research – carried out globally and through deep-dive workshops with senior executives and finance and accountancy professionals in 16 countries over 18 months – has given us the most comprehensive picture we’ve ever had of the main trends that will shape our profession to 2025.
From this, we have a uniquely informed perspective on the outlook for professional accountants and their role in society over the next decade. And, through this large-scale research, we’ve identified four key drivers of change globally that we believe will exert the greatest influence on the profession in the next decade:
Increased regulation and demands for greater transparency and stronger governance will have the greatest impact on the profession over the next decade. We expect all members of the profession to be affected directly or indirectly by this trend and to varying degrees.
The spread of digital technologies and their impact will continue to transform the practice of accountancy and competencies accountants require. Smart software and systems automate complex and multi-faceted processes (such as the financial close), and support the trend to outsource some services and repatriate others. Knowledge of new models for business, funding, payments and services will be vital. Expert use of analytics will enable more, better and closer to real-time reporting, increase predictive analysis and highlight the interconnectedness of financial and non-financial performance.
Professional accountants will need the competencies, skills and outlook to meet the demand for more holistic and forward-looking information and more frequent ad-hoc reporting from widening groups of stakeholders as barriers are eroded between functional silos, internal and external reporting, and financial and non-financial performance.
Professional accountants will need to anticipate and accommodate emerging differences in business practices, geographies, roles, responsibilities and regulations. As the harmonisation of accounting and business standards increases, so will the need for teams that are multinational and culturally diverse. An understanding of different cultures, and the interpersonal skills needed to work with and manage diverse teams, will become as important as technical skills.
'At ACCA, we're optimists. We view these changes as a fantastic opportunity to further cement professional accountants as the most valuable of business strategists'
As operating environments become more complex and sophisticated, even more will be demanded of professional accountants. In terms of preparing our members and future members for this future, we need to ensure we provide education and training that continues to provide strong technical skills while also developing the range of analytic, communication, IT, management and interpersonal skills needed to excel. Alongside this, we also need to have modes of learning and examining that fit seamlessly with developments in school and university education and appeal to the next generation of professional workers.
Much more detail on our research can be accessed at Professional Accountants – The Future.
At ACCA, we’re optimists. We view these changes as a fantastic opportunity to further cement professional accountants as the most valuable of business strategists. The data-driven analysis and strategic insight accountants can provide, coupled with the commitment, ethics and professionalism our qualification provides, can make a huge contribution to improving the running of business globally.
We know professional accountants will continue to be demanded – but only if they are the value-adding professionals organisations truly most need. Our strategic vision of being #1 in developing professional accountants the world needs articulates this overarching ambition of keeping ACCA members in demand to 2020 and beyond.
'Council’s Strategy to 2020 is for ACCA to be #1 in developing professional accountants the world needs'
Council’s Strategy to 2020 is for ACCA to be #1 in developing professional accountants the world needs. This is emphatically not just about our size. It’s our vision that ACCA’s global reputation, our standing, our influence and our footprint will mean we’re viewed as the pre-eminent professional body by governments, regulators, employers, learning providers and all those we count on to provide rewarding careers for our members of today and tomorrow.
This in turn relies on being seen to lead in the global profession. To do this, ACCA needs to have unrivalled intellectual property – in the form of the ACCA Qualification and specialist offerings and our professional insights and policy positions – and delivery channels that support a diverse and mobile community of members and students. All this needs to be packaged and disseminated in a way that continues to build the power of our global brand, while making sure what we offer resonates and appeals across the varied markets where we operate.
Our Strategy to 2020 was constructed to deliver this ambition, on behalf of our members. The strategy is not a hierarchy of measures, but a reinforcing and refreshing mechanism which is designed to build and continuously renew the ecosystem needed for ACCA to flourish.
To be #1 in developing professional accountants the world needs
Our reach, relevance and resources
net operating surplus
Use our pre-eminent brand and reputation to influence the market
of brand power targets met
Inspire people everywhere in the world to choose ACCA
Grow our network to support our stakeholders to achieve their goals
2 of 3
develop targets met
Demonstrate the value of a lasting relationship with ACCA
member and student satisfaction
Performance in these outcomes is linked to senior management reward. Full details of this can be found in our Corporate Governance Statement.
Our ability to deliver this strategy relies on us developing four key capabilities. We track and report on our performance in these areas to our Council but they are not directly linked to senior management reward.
Digitally enabled and flexible delivery that is responsive to evolving customer needs
of all digital availability and digital satisfaction targets met
Driven by superior market insights
of customer service SLAs met
Motivated to deliver our strategy
on Best Companies engagement index
Across all of our operations
operating cost per member and student