Creating a better future

July 2020

Alan Hatfield explains how ACCA is supporting ethics and trust for a sustainable future.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new purpose in all we do.

Many of us are re-thinking the way ahead, and wondering what this new purpose means for the accountancy profession and the work it does.

Across almost every aspect of business, professional accountants have been central to helping organisations navigate everything from challenging and competitive operating environments, to ethically creating and sustaining value streams.

Equally, the profession has deployed its fundamental stewardship responsibilities to protect the value created and manage risk, and to communicate organisational action and performance in a transparent, reliable and responsible way. This enables stakeholders to make much better-informed judgments.

The profession has been at the heart of driving greater corporate accountability and responsibility, building stakeholder trust in organisations and those who lead them.

Here at ACCA we do not see this purpose diminishing. As we begin to carefully step out of the lockdown, we believe trust and ethics will be part an even stronger part of the purpose of the profession.

In ACCA’s recent report, ‘Accountants, Purpose and Sustainable Organisations’, Head of Business Reporting Sharon Machado explores why the profession engenders trust through its trinity features of ethics, competence and connectivity.

Individually, these features may not be unique to the profession, but taken together they build a convincing case for why the accountancy profession is well placed to perform and help build and sustain value.

Ethics is the DNA of the profession, it means professional accountants are focused on doing the right thing, acting in the public interest in all that they do.

Machado said: “Focused on public interest, and backed by ethics, business and finance expertise developed through lifelong learning and connectivity of the profession’s networks, professional accountants are central to creating, protecting and communicating value for organisations and society. The profession can be that source of trust society is calling for.”

Readers of PQ should also be aware that the 8th edition of the global prize ‘Ethics & Trust in Finance for a Sustainable Future’ was launched on 2 June. ACCA’s chief executive, Helen Brand, took part in the launch roundtable discussion exploring the role of ethics and trust in shaping a more sustainable and resilient financial system for the postpandemic world.

The launch ceremony brought together eminent professionals and experts, including some of the recent laureates of the prize, to provide insights on the role of ethics. Such insights are crucial because of recurring financial crises over the last decade, the mounting challenge of climate change and this current pandemic, which has triggered considerable financial stress and plunged the world in a major economic and social crisis. The general theme of ethics and trust in finance has a pivotal role to mitigate the negative effect of such crises.

Brand said: “As global business looks to how it can reconstruct post the pandemic, it’s clear that care for, and responsibility to, each other and the world we share will be of paramount importance. Thinking deeply about this and re-building in a way that benefits all in society has never been more vital and it makes this prize even more relevant and resonant.”

I truly hope PQ readers enter this really relevant prize. Since 2006, it has offered

young candidates – under 35 and working in or studying finance – a unique opportunity to reassess the role of financial institutions and in particular how they can provide a meaningful response to the changing needs of the communities in which they operate.

Organised by the Observatoire de la Finance, the prize encourages candidates to reimagine how financial institutions, together with their stakeholders, can balance the desire for growth, security and stability for the post-pandemic world.

As a strategic partner along with the CFA Institute; Euroclear; Swift & Swift Institute; and Pictet Group, the competition invites creative papers setting out analyses or proposals for innovative ways to promote ethics and trust in finance. The Jury allocates the prize money of $20,000 among the winners.

To register for the Prize go to The closing date for submission of essays is 31 May 2021.

• Alan Hatfield, Executive Director, Strategy & Development, ACCA