Accounting with integrity, Dr Sarah Bux at #findaba17

With stories of corruption and mismanagement rife in South Africa, there is one thing that will keep us afloat in extraordinary times. “Technology is one of the biggest drivers of change,” said Dr Sarah Bux, associate director for South Africa – management accounting at the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), speaking during last week’s Finance Indaba Africa 2017, held at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Sarah was delivering an address on Accounting in Extraordinary Times. She said: "Advances in technology will represent significant changes in the profession, transform business, and transform the way we delight clients and customers, but mostly the way we transform our services - the way we do business in future." She went on to say that CFOs are kept up at night knowing that they are faced with radical business transformation.

"So, we come to the question of accounting in extraordinary times. What does this mean for us as accounting professionals? What does it actually look like and what does the future re-imagined look like?"

According to her, accounting can be used to join companies, divide them, or close them. Moreover, the profession has typically solved:

  • Keeping financial accounts;
  • Control of expenses, income and equity; and
  • Management of debt, liabilities and tax.

How is accounting in these times extraordinary, asked Sarah, and how can we interrogate something such as accounting with accountability? "Can we look at such functions and absolutely say with the utmost integrity that we have performed these functions with an accounting profession with such integrity and credibility that we have done it to the letter of the law?" she asked.

Sarah went on to define VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. "The accounting profession is not excluded by the VUCA of these extraordinary times," she said, before asking, if change is a given, and VUCA is a given, what is the constant? "The one thing that can keep us grounded and can keep us executing to the letter of the law… I want to boldly and vociferously state that it is our values that will keep us constant. We have to be forward thinking, remain accountable, and create value for shareholders and for every member of the public who are frustrated. And we have to demonstrate the utmost integrity as we lead with an ethical lens going forward."