The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) has launched its Centre of Future Excellence (CoFE). The unveiling took place at the Institute’s 2020 Accounting iNdaba, hosted online on the 4th and 5th of November.
Professor Rashied Small, Executive: Thought Leadership at SAIPA, announced the initiative and explained its purpose. “The Centre was created to research emerging trends that will affect the accounting profession and to develop competency programmes that ensure our members are future-ready,” he said.
The Institute’s Centre of Business Advisory (CoBA) and its revamped Centre of Tax Excellence (CoTE) were launched at the same time.
In the wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, trade and industry stand to be highly automated using intelligent machines and processes. This includes the administrative and reporting functions typically carried out by accountants. Accountants will use increasingly sophisticated and smart technologies to enhance their traditional ways of conducting business.
Instead of traditional number crunching and report compilation, these professionals will be called on in the future to provide advanced business advisory services. Clients and employers will require their professional accountants to deliver value-added strategic insights rather than raw data and compliance. Ethics and public trust must be at the forefront as accountants shift into the digital age.
This new role demands that practitioners are able to extract business value from data and effectively communicate its meaning to stakeholders. “The Future-Ready Professional Accountant must acquire competencies beyond those currently taught to them,” said Small.
The CoFE will identify and prioritise specific competencies and develop programmes to equip professional accountants with them.
According to Small, the CoFE employs a Competency Framework that is based on various inputs and four classes of competency and delivers a desired set of outcomes.
The inputs used to determine competency needs are international education standards, assessment standards, national education legislation, qualification legislation, market requirements, and the business environment.
The four classes of competency will mean the accountant can operate effectively under different conditions.
Professional competencies will ensure they approach their work in an ethical and client-oriented manner. Human competencies improve on their communication and interactive skills, with an emphasis on emotional intelligence. Business competencies will enable them to provide reliable administrative, operational and market guidance based on the data at their disposal. Technical competency will ensure they are proficient in fields like data analytics and business modelling, allowing them to transform data into profitable initiatives.
According to Small, the CoFE will prepare future accountants to provide services to their clients on four fronts.
As creators of value, they will develop effective business models resulting in increased competitive advantage. As enablers of value, they will help organisations effectively allocate and utilise available resources. As preservers of value, accountants offer direction on enterprise risk management and governance. As reporters of value, they will provide financial, integrated and accountability reporting services.
Small indicated that the initiative also created a competitive advantage for the Institute’s Professional Accountant (SA) designation. “Most importantly, CoFE will ensure SAIPA members are distinguished from other professionals by their leadership capabilities and authority in these business-critical competencies,” he said.
Attendees at the launch praised SAIPA for its foresight into the future needs of the profession and for developing a progressive strategy to address them.
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