The magnificent seven: key qualities for finance experts

Seven key characteristics for successful finance professionals over the coming decade have been identified. Let’s start developing them, says ACCA president Alexandra Chin.

This article was first published in the June 2016 international edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

Think Ahead is ACCA’s brand strapline, defining in two words what we stand for: that we lead and shape the profession, and that our qualifications have fuelled our members’ careers.

Describing the future is part of ACCA’s strategic DNA. Through our research and insights work, we look to explain that future, with the help of our members and other finance professionals. 

The long view is important. We need to think ahead so we can define future strategies and new ways of working, especially in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times.

As you can see from the front cover of this edition of AB magazine, we have taken a long view about the future of the profession. We spoke to nearly 250 finance professionals and experts from Canada to Zambia, at big firms and in government, from regulators to universities, to define the trajectory of the profession. The resulting report, called Professional accountants – the future, explores in detail the dynamics of the profession to 2025. Regulation and governance, technology, globalisation and the expanding expectations placed on our profession will all have an effect – they are already doing so. The future is happening as you read this.

Change is inevitable. How we prepare for it is critical. Our report has identified seven key future skills that will ensure that the accountant of today and tomorrow remains a professional in demand. 

So what does the accountant of the future look like? The report’s analysis suggests that professional accountants need an optimal and changing combination of professional competencies, a collection of technical knowledge, skills and abilities, along with interpersonal behaviours and qualities. 

By 2025, all professional accountants will need to develop professional quotients to fit their role and stage of their career. Individuals won’t possess all of them. Some will be easier to display and secure than others. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but recognising where they lie and where improvements need to be made is crucial. 

I’d urge everyone to read this report. It’s thought-provoking and inspiring, and we’d love to know what you think.

The report will be on the agenda for our Council meeting this month in Singapore, where ACCA will be celebrating its 80th birthday. We’ve come a long way in the Lion City and Asia Pacific over the years, and I am sure you will join me in congratulating ACCA Singapore on its anniversary, alongside ACCA Malaysia, which is also marking its 80th birthday.

Our Council meeting will also give us the chance to consider the agenda for this year’s AGM. We’ve had a lot of queries about standing for Council – visit the AGM section of our website to find profiles of Council members who have agreed to share insights into their working and personal lives. Past president Anthony Harbinson and Hemraz Hoolash were the first to offer their views in Q&As that are both moving and personal, displaying two of the quotients for success – emotional intelligence and creativity – that up to now have not often been associated with the accountancy profession.