Key business success priorities outlined by ACCA

A CHECKLIST has revealed three key priorities for accountancy profession success in 2017.

The ACCA (the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) has published a checklist to tackle the fresh political uncertainties of 2017 including Brexit negotiations in the spring.

The checklist for policy-makers, business leaders and professional accountants includes securing the skills of accountants; promoting transferable skills within apprenticeships; and for accountants to address rapidly changing business needs.

John Williams, head of ACCA UK, said: “The focus on skills in the wish list reflects the increasingly vital role professional accountants play in the wider UK economy. Accountancy professionals must gear up for years of uncertainty and build upon existing competencies to offer trusted, technically advanced advice as businesses prepare to navigate changing trade relationships, new regulatory environments and put together reliable financial forecasts.”

The ACCA stated that forward-looking strategic finance professionals are needed at the very heart of firms. As the government triggers Article 50 and enters into negotiations in 2017 reliable financial advice is needed.

EU student enrolment in UK universities could be affected as the certainty of freedom of movement remains in doubt. To ensure that businesses will not be affected by a loss of skilled workers in the future the priority for this year must be opening professional career pathways, qualification innovations, and apprenticeships.

Many businesses will be preparing in 2017 for the incoming Apprenticeship Levy, seeing businesses draw upon funding to open more apprenticeship places. However, recent ACCA research found that half of respondents felt an apprenticeship would limit their career path flexibility.

Williams said: “The success of apprenticeships will depend very much on both supply and demand if they are to succeed in opening up new and high quality career pathways. Although apprenticeships offer direct routes into specific sectors the schemes are engineered to offer a range of transferable skills including leadership, project management, financial management and communication.”

An ACCA report, conducted in 2016, found that shifting business expectations alongside globalisation and digital connectivity agendas would require accountants to develop further skills to have a hand in shaping business strategy. The ACCA’s wish-list highlights the need for the continued professional development of accountancy professionals, as well as preparing the future workforce.

Williams concluded: “With big changes comes opportunity. Continuing to develop skills and hone core capabilities should be central to plans for both practising and aspiring professional accountants.”

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