Throughout 2020-21, ACCA has considered the global context carefully, consulting with external experts and drawing on our own market, strategic, professional and customer insight, and behavioural data to identify a series of factors that will present challenge and opportunity for ACCA in 2021-22 and beyond.
In 2020, the global economy was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with global output falling to 90% of the previous year’s levels, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Like most organisations, this had significant impacts for ACCA. Looking ahead, the OECD anticipates a global recovery back to 2019 levels by December 2021, and our own analysis indicates that a number of macro forecasts are now broadly trending up. Despite this, a range of social restrictions persist in many ACCA markets as we enter the 2021-22 performance year.
Beyond Covid-19, we are seeing a number of significant geopolitical and economic developments. These include the new Democrat administration in the US, the publication of China’s 14th five-year plan and the UK exiting the EU.
Global growth markets in which ACCA is active give sharply contrasting pictures of economic recovery. While China’s economy is expected to grow by 7.9% in 2021 (compared with 1.9% growth in 2020), the pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on India’s economy. In late 2020, India fell from fifth to sixth place as a global economic superpower (behind US, China, Japan, Germany and the UK) and, in March 2021, is still in recession with a very high incidence of Covid-19 cases.
The global systemic shock brought about by the pandemic is, however, also presenting opportunity for the profession. As the world seeks to recover from the events of 2020, there is a growing movement across governments, regulators, business and society to ‘build back better’, driving a more sustainable approach to economic recovery.
This presents a clear opportunity for the profession and its members to advise and influence governments, regulators and business on the key role they can play in delivering sustainable recovery and returning to growth. ACCA and other professional accountancy bodies also have a critical role to play in transforming the profession in response to digital acceleration and other disrupters, upskilling those within it to seize the opportunities it presents.