Apr 23 - 29, 20

In the current economic climate, a sound, solid and healthy business sector is important for the whole of Pakistan, and indeed for the wider subcontinent.

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) believes that financial professionals have a vital role to play in helping small, medium and large business grow, prosper and survive in this huge region. Accountants clearly have a role in turning business optimism into reality.

One of the hallmarks of sustainable enterprise and development is a strong finance function. Organisations in Pakistan, whether in public or private sectors, benefit strongly from the discipline of financial management.

Financial professionals, such as accountants and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), add value in whatever roles they are employed. They are promoters of sound business practices, champions of sustainable business development and also often identifiers of new opportunities that can lead to high-performing organisations.

Economically, financial professionals add considerable value to business by driving down costs and identifying areas for value and profitability. They can help an organisation steer itself through difficult trading conditions in the short-term, while keeping their eye firmly on their longer-term goals. ACCA believes there has never been a more crucial time for accountants to show their true value.

The CFO has become more important in recent years as a guardian of financial performance and a key player in creating long-term value. The outward-facing role of CFOs has broadened so that CFOs are increasingly the guardian of a business' brand, ensuring that the company adheres to good sustainable practices. Financial professionals are no longer just there to report to the shareholders and to comply with regulation: they play a vital part in maintaining and building the reputation of the business.

Financial professionals are also essential to supporting the small business sector. SMEs make a positive contribution to economic growth, requiring well-rounded finance managers and advisers to ensure small businesses survive and grow. ACCA creates the 'complete finance professional', with the skills required for financial reporting, management accounting, compliance with tax and other regimes, risk management and performance analysis, grounded in professional and ethical practices and with the knowledge appropriate to provide well-rounded advice to company owners and managers.

The accountant, whether an employee of the organisation or a firm contracted to provide bookkeeping and accounts preparation services, provides a vital financial disciplinary function in ensuring the business is financially sound and sustainable.

The accountant has a pivotal relationship with other key stakeholders essential for the ongoing success of the organisation, including the presentation of financial statements for quoted companies, prepared in line with accounting standards.

The financial professional can also often be a motivator and mentor for those many employees in the organisation who are not financially minded, but who are charged with a financial or budgetary responsibility. Understanding the motivations of others, demonstrating in practical terms why finance matters to them can be a source of huge value to the organisation, in terms of controlling cost, and of optimising income.

Over recent years, as a systemic global banking collapse has evolved into a significant worldwide recession, a range of presumptions about accounting, organisations and society have been radically called into question.

Across the globe, organisations that were previously considered to be well managed have been rocked to their foundations. Corporate governance, regulation, asset pricing, risk management, remuneration design are all subject to root and branch examination. What business needs now is discipline over the immediate short term, but also the confidence of knowing they possess a sustainable business model. Finance professionals now have every opportunity to emerge as leaders - but ultimately it will depend on their willingness to rise to the challenge.

The businesses in Pakistan that place financial professionals at the heart of their organisation, and understand and embrace the vital role that they play in the future prosperity of the business will be the sure winners.