Dr. Afra Sajjad, Head of Education and Policy Development,
ACCA Pakistan.

Nov 17 - 23, 2008

The accounting and auditing profession in the 21st century has faced a number of challenges and opportunities. Enhanced globalization and changing demographics has led to increased business complexity, technological growth and regulatory initiatives.

The roles of accountants and auditors have also evolved. The increased sophistication of capital markets, regulation of financial sector and harmonization in financial reporting has led to a deluge in specialist roles. Hence, today there is an ever greater need for accountants to develop a wider skill base in order to be at the heart of businesses.

ACCA research suggests that over the next 15 years, the accounting function is expected to develop into a more central role, providing strategic and risk management advice to all parts of the organization. It will continue its evolution from a function focused on transactions to a decision-making department and finally attain leadership position in the organization.

The evolution of the role of accountants and auditors necessitates the debate on the need for acquisition of new knowledge, skills and attributes by professional accountants. ACCA research outlines that by 2020, accountants will be able to exercise professional judgment in decision making based on a foundation of ethics, technical excellence, strategic awareness and effective communication.

Year 2020 may also see the trend of 'T-shaped' professionals, that is, individuals with broad generalist finance knowledge and strategy skills complemented with in- depth technical expertise in, for example, risk management or financial reporting.

In Pakistan, accountants and auditors in the recent past have emerged as specialists in internal controls, internal audit, risk management, Basel II and SOX implementation. By 2020 as the accounting and auditing professions further evolve in Pakistan, the need for nurturing more accountants and auditors who have modern skills and knowledge becomes critical. Demand for number crunchers and box tickers may be completely eliminated and replaced with individuals who are generalists, decision makers, technically proficient, communication savvy - in short 'global strategists'.

ACCA through its unrivalled global network of offices, learning providers, examination centres and employers is dedicated to provide opportunity to young men and women with ability and ambition to pursue a contemporary global qualification. ACCA over the last 100 years has built a reputation of excellence in qualifications and training and is recognized around the world, especially by finance and accountancy head hunters. The ACCA Qualification is designed to impart knowledge, skills and professional values which will enable accountants to triumph over the challenges of the 21st Century.

ACCA qualification embeds the global accounting education standards set by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). ACCA was the first accounting body to adopt International Accounting Standards as part of its syllabus. Post Enron collapse, corporate governance, professional ethics and internal controls emerged as key challenges faced by the accounting and finance world. ACCA proactively responded to this by introducing an Ethics Module as part of its qualification as well as an examination paper called Professional Accountant which aims to enable ACCA students to make judgement on ethical and governance dilemmas faced by businesses today.

ACCA in Pakistan has not only provided opportunity to thousands of young men and women to pursue a qualification that will equip them with modern skills and knowledge essential to build a successful career across all sectors globally but has also been successful in creating job opportunities for ACCA students and members by establishing linkages with employers who value ACCA members and students for the wealth of skills and knowledge, professional excellence and modernity, positive attitude towards work and continuous professional development facilitated by ACCA .

ACCA Pakistan has recently embarked upon an education development project through which it is working with its learning partners to create an environment and study support facilities that will enhance the standards of professional accounting education in Pakistan. ACCA Pakistan is committed to fostering accountants with skills, knowledge and expertise that will positively contribute towards the economic growth of Pakistan.