Special feature (part 5): "Future-proofing" the finance profession with ethics

Despite less-than-ethical behaviour in the finance industry, professionals still trust CAs to do the right thing.

Beyond the interpersonal acuity that emerges so strongly from the various sources and reports, all the experts seem to agree that ethics will be a standout attribute in terms of “future-proofing” the profession. This is important globally, but arguably even more so in South Africa where we have seen a number of news reports and revelations in the last two years about less than ethical behaviour from consultants and audit firms – revelations that have dramatically affected reputations and business sustainability at a firm and personal level.
 
Related to this, SAICA shared the findings of an Edelman Intelligence survey undertaken on behalf of Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) that found that 54 percent of global business leaders and decision-makers cited “protection of clients’ data, ethical behaviour (50 percent) and transparency (47 percent) as key areas for building trust in business”. And they look to accountants as the guardians thereof, with 77 percent reporting they trust CAs to do the right thing, ahead of legal (68 percent) and insurance (55 percent).
 
On the findings of the survey, Willi Coates, SAICA senior executive in charge of Brand said: “What was especially encouraging among the 250 South African business decision makers surveyed was that 81 percent still trust CAs(SA) to do the right thing, despite recent negative publicity surrounding the profession.”
 
Bottom line
Bringing together competence, tech literacy, people savvy, and a solid commitment to ethics will define a successful CA and finance leader in the decade to come, and drive us towards the concept of ‘business partnering’. As Pieter says: “We envision a world where higher levels of automation allow the accountant to focus on serving as a strategic advisor to the business, valued not for the work he or she does by the hour, but for their ability to help the business perform to its full potential.”

Read more: 
Special feature: The accountant of the future - goodbye grunt work
Special feature (part 2): Telepresence technology may cost many jobs in future
Special feature (part 3): Developing your soft skills to stay relevant as a CA
Special feature (part 4): Finance professionals are actively investing into digital tools