Mixing the old with the new, the role of the modern accountant is an ever changing one, and if we want to master the modern challenges that we face as professional accountants we need to ensure we have solid foundations and an open mind.
Looking back to the early stages of my accountancy career, or rather, my education, you could see that my passion for numbers and my frame of mind was something that speared me on to assess the subject further. Thorn between going into a career of architecture / engineering versus a financial path, one of the early factors that pushed me towards the latter was my Accountancy teacher way back in secondary school.
Some of us are fortunate enough to cross paths with educators that do more than just teach content and syllabus, but they look deeper to find that spark that could be developed into something brighter.
Once I had chosen to pursue a career in Accountancy & Finance, various factors led me down the ACCA route followed by a Masters in Financial Services, and throughout that journey I was even more fortunate to come across some great minds and personalities that contributed invaluably to my overall educational experience. Some lessons may be taught in the classroom, but others are taught on the job and in the most random of places in the most unexpected times.
The message here is that any good professional needs mentorship, and you will find the good ones and the not so good ones, but when you know you know, so limit your exposure to those who cannot help you develop. I will always be grateful to all those who contributed towards building my passion for the profession, simultaneously developing my knowledge and understanding of what makes a true professional.
A message to the young aspiring accountants will always be If you want to make it in today’s day and age you need to put education before earnings, ironic coming from an accountant but an accountant’s foundation years are everything that could make you or break you.
I would say that my appreciation of the underpinning fundamental concepts are what gave me the initial layers to build on from there.
Once I truly grasped those core functions, it was all about building confidence and motivating myself to find solutions that others were not necessarily looking for. The tools we have at our disposal in this “intelligence” age that we are living, leaves very little excuse for anyone not wanting to look closer, dig deeper and analyse further.
‘‘Fight inertia and complacency and feed your desire to challenge and improve.’’ Dean Micallef
My willingness to change and the ability to carry out change is what makes my job interesting day after day, we need to encourage an ever-developing mind, one that continues to search for new solutions. Pursue further educational development, take part in networks and discussion groups and share experiences with fellow peers.
I also find that it is vital to surround yourself with strong team members and well-motivated colleagues. My working relationship with my colleagues is one of the driving forces that pushes me to do more and wanting to raise the bar further. The team aspect will allow for the strengthening of the various aspects associated with our role, be it technical, practical or otherwise. Supporting successful organisations poses challenges on a daily basis and the vastness of the subject at hand makes it increasingly difficult to remain on top of everything associated with our role, and that’s were a solid technical team with varied areas of expertise plays an extremely key role.
The level of expectation placed on an accountant has made it apparently clear that we can no longer simply look at financial performance alone but we need to support and spearhead initiatives that increase the future viability and success of our organisations. In order to do so we cannot rely on micro-management or cross-functional switching carried out consistently. In order to maintain a high level of consistency, we need to ensure structures are in place that help us identify issues and weaknesses and also those opportunities that require actioning of some shape or form.
Good corporate governance is a fundamental pillar of modern business management, and fortunately it is a topic that has evolved dramatically over the recent years. The implementation of good governance is a core success factor that will increase the chances of business best practices evolving with the times. Forming part of a group of relatively young accountants it is inbuilt within us to appreciate and understand the importance of these functions, however the challenge comes as we look to implement such systems within structures that have been long established. Obtaining the buy-in from all members of management who may not have been exposed to such structures in the past is probably the biggest challenge faced in the implementation process, closely followed by the cost of such implementations.
Traditionally systems were implemented that were backed up by a financial analysis of cost and reward, when it comes to good corporate governance the benefits reach far beyond mere financial gain, but have a significant indirect impact on the way an organisation is run and how it is perceived by stakeholders. Good corporate governance can have an impact on the way an employee or client sees and respects an organisation, or how a potential investor analyses a company or even how a lender applies some reliance on such structures to reduce their assessment of risk exposure.
As accountants we need to take decisions, a lot of the times quickly, some are straightforward and others can have great impact, however tough or pressing a matter, one needs to be confident enough to assess and analyse before taking a decision but remain bold and confident enough to take it. Decision making is what separates an accountant from another, and to get things done, informed decisions need to be taken constantly. Structures are what makes positive consistency possible.
Throughout my career (thus far) I have operated within a number of functions and within various industries, and quite confidently I can say that the implementation of good corporate governance has continued to develop and find itself inside the core of many organisations looking at the future in a bright and responsible way, this is undoubtedly a positive step forward for our profession and the longevity of the organisations operating within our communities.
As a final point, I do find it is important that as professionals we retain our core values. In the absence of surveillance, one must do the right thing. If we do not keep our core values at the centre of all that we do, we risk losing vision of everything that matters, as professional accountants there is an element of responsibility that we owe to the wider community who depend on what we do, so we must take pride in what we do and do it with care and utmost professionalism.