Unlocking the door to an exciting future

A career in accountancy opens the way to a world of opportunities…

That was the message shared by Claire Bennison, Head of ACCA UK, with students at the recent Your Future in Accountancy conference.  

‘The training, expertise and skills you gain by qualifying as an accountant open so many doors to different jobs, opportunities and career choices,’ Bennison said in her keynote address.

She told a rich and diverse audience including ACCA students, graduates and career-seekers: ‘The role of the accountant has changed so much in the last few years – and it will keep changing in the years to come – because the world has changed so much.

 ‘The explosion in digital technology – and the spread of data analytics and automation – has freed accountants from many of the more routine functions which used to be part of the job. It has freed them for work of a higher value – liberating them to act as the interpreters of data, not merely the compilers.’

Bennison described how the next generation of accountants will grapple with the most pressing issues facing society.

‘The story of our world in the next decades, certainly for the duration of your working lifetimes, is the story of how the world reacts to three major challenges, which are all inter-linked:

* The increasing application of Big Data, machine learning and the 5G-enabled Internet of Things.

* Inequality in the spread of resources across countries and continents.

* And, the big one – climate change, and potentially catastrophic changes in the planet’s environment.

‘Far from spending your working lives peering down columns of figures and making sure the numbers add up, accountants now display a different set of qualities. We live in a world where decisions are increasingly delegated to algorithms and artificial intelligence, so we need to make sure that the human element is built in to our decision-making processes.  

‘In other words, we need impartial professionals to provide the ethical, human dimension in every organisation – and that is the role of the modern accountant.

‘Only by ensuring that decisions are taken based on the concept of public value; the needs of wider society, and the protection of our fragile planet, can we be sure that businesses and economies are built for sustainable development. The old ways of measuring success – dividend statements; profit and loss accounts; quarterly reports – are lousy ways of assessing the long-term health of a business.

‘Our job – your job, should you decide to pursue the path of professional accountancy that is open to you this morning – is to live the ethical values which will make a critical difference to society, whether it survives or thrives, through to the end of this decade and beyond.’

*The event at LSBF was run by PQ Magazine.