Finance Indaba 2018: ACCA readies members for a whole new accounting skillset

ACCA country head Patience Semenya talks membership, future-proof skills, and why ACCA will be at Finance Indaba 2018

In this Q&A, CFO South Africa and ACCA country head Patience Semenya unpack the global accounting body's value offering (for members specifically), and delve into their latest research on new and much-needed accounting capabilities. 

Q. Tell us about ACCA origins, goals and niche that you occupy? How long have you been established in SA?

“At ACCA, we believe that accountancy is vital for economies to grow and prosper, which is why we work globally (since 1904) to build the profession – as well as to make society fairer and more transparent. Worldwide, we have more than 208 000 fully qualified members and 503 000 student members, that are among the world’s best-qualified and most highly sought-after accountants. We believe that we’re the world's most forward-thinking professional accountancy body. Our core values include diversity, accountability, integrity, and creating opportunity. From being the first accountancy body to admit women members (in 1909) to doubling the number of exam sessions we run (in 2016), we’re proud to be pioneers in the field.”

“Organisations know and trust the ACCA designation. Our members work across every sector imaginable, and we work on connecting with businesses of all sizes, the public sector, educational establishments, and influential industry leaders. We stay abreast of emerging trends, legislation and legal requirements, and participating to helping to shape these.

"Through this, we’re able to create the innovative, strategic-thinking accountants geared to thrive in a fast-changing world.”

Q. What services and benefits do ACCA members enjoy?

“ACCA keeps members at the leading-edge of the profession with a range of benefits and services which including using the ACCA designation after your name – a symbol recognisable to employers around the world, and mark of excellence.  Additionally, ACCA membership means enjoying the chance to be a global Influencer and build your professional network. ACCA members are regularly invited to play a part in developing the profession at all levels. All members have the opportunity to stand for Council, the body that governs our activities, and to get involved at a regional level. This can help to raise your profile, broaden your professional networks and develop your skills.”

“ACCA members participate in continued professional development (CPD). We provide all kinds of materials and opportunities to support your CPD. These include a range of exclusive e-learning packages, as well as face-to-face networking events at our local offices. Through our partnerships with educational institutions, members benefit from both accelerated access routes and discounted fees on many courses. Members are kept informed – online and in print – with what’s happening in the accountancy and business world through our Accounting and Business magazine, social media, and access to our technical activities and advice section on the site. Finally, ACCA provides round the clock support and career services, through our ACCA Connect service, and ACCA Careers jobs portal.”

Q. What skills are most needed in the industry today and how does ACCA support the development of these?

“The world is changing at a rapid pace and professional accountants must keep up to stay relevant. We’re committed to developing dynamic professional accountants who are strategic forward-thinkers, accountants who thrive in a world of near-constant flux, digitisation, and globalisation.”

“We've developed a model covering the skills and qualities needed from the successful professional accountant in a changing, challenging, digital world. There are seven skill areas – what we call ‘quotients’ – that ACCA believe are essential to the evolving profession.

They are:

  1. Technical and ethical (TEQ): The skills and abilities to perform activities to a defined standard, while maintaining the highest standards of integrity, independence and scepticism.
  2. Intelligence (IQ): The ability to acquire and use knowledge: thinking, reasoning, solving problems and the ability to understand and analyse situations that are complex and ambiguous.
  3. Creative (CQ): The ability to use existing knowledge in a new situation, to make connections, explore potential outcomes and generate new ideas.
  4. Digital (DQ): The awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices, strategies and culture.
  5. Emotional intelligence (EQ): The ability to identify your own emotions and those of others, harness and apply them to tasks, and regulate and manage them.
  6. Vision (VQ): The ability to anticipate future trends accurately by extrapolating existing trends and facts, and filling the gaps by thinking innovatively.
  7. Experience (XQ): The ability and skills to understand customer expectations, to meet desired outcomes and to create value.

“Off the back of this research, we redesigned the professional level of the ACCA qualification, to be as relevant as possible, so that ACCA professionals continue to be valued and sought-after. In September 2018, we introduced the Strategic Business Leader – an innovative case study. In this, real-world scenarios are used to set challenges that require students to blend technical, professional and ethical skills in the evaluation and presentation of their responses. Additionally, the new Ethics and Professional Skills module (which will be available from 31 October) is designed to increase your employability. It develops the full spectrum of advanced ethical and professional skills by exposing you to realistic business situations. And it is through the integration of these ethical and professional skills with the technical knowledge that will prepare you for the Strategic Professional exam.”

Q. And finally, why is the ACCA choosing to partner with and participate in the 2018 Finance Indaba?

“ACCA is participating at Finance Indaba as it is a fantastic platform to engage with finance professionals across various industries. It will also give us an opportunity to drive engagement and thought leadership on the future of the accounting profession through our panel discussion, entitled: ‘What will drive governance, risk and ethics over the coming decade? Are our education, professional bodies, public and private sector institutions enabling a finance eco-system conducive to the integration of ethical, professional and technical skills’.”