Ken McHattie CA, ICAS President: A world of opportunity - with strings attached

Ken McHattie CA, ICAS President
By Ken McHattie CA, ICAS President

5 October 2016

ICAS President Ken McHattie looks at what the future holds for the young CAs coming up to take their place at the heart of British business. 

One of the most enjoyable aspects of serving as your president is meeting the new and recently qualified members of ICAS. They are the next generation of leaders. These young women and men will become the lifeblood of the profession and the backbone of British business. In fact, many of them are there already!

This was evidenced by the remarkable stories of those who came to prominence through our 35 CAs under 35 initiative, which culminated in a gala dinner in the City of London in September. Their stories are inspiring to CAs of all ages.

Rimla Akhtar CA was chosen as the overall winner. She already sits on the Council of the Football Association, has been awarded an MBE for her work on diversity in sport and runs her own innovative consultancy.

The others in the top 35 covered a broad range of the contributions that ICAS members make across society. Nominees included those working to create a more sustainable society, helping those less fortunate and those inspired to set no boundaries on what they may become.

It is a mark of our profession that we continue to see many of the brightest and the best young people wishing to become CAs. It is one of the most important jobs of the ICAS Council to make sure that continues to be the case.

But it’s not all going to be easy – the CAs of tomorrow will work in environments that are changing very rapidly. They will need to be adaptable and embrace the evolving work and life landscape.

We’re on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, this one driven by data and digital technology. We face serious political uncertainty in the UK, Europe and the world’s biggest economy, the United States of America.

It is a mark of our profession that we continue to see many of the brightest and the best young people wishing to become CAs. It is one of the most important jobs of the ICAS Council to make sure that continues to be the case.

We face important challenges on trust, openness and transparency, all while we struggle to come to terms with with crypto-currency, blockchain, fintech and regtech (regulatory technology). There are also major question marks over how much of what we know about audit, tax and corporate reporting will be relevant in the future.

In 20 years, robotics and automated technology may have displaced large numbers of jobs and no government, no company and no profession is prepared for that. We are now approaching the first generation who will never have to learn to drive a car and who will be skilled typists but hardly ever feel the need to write.

The phrase 'lifelong learning' will have to be put into practice more effectively than previous generations have managed. And the CA qualification cannot, and will not, stand still. Our Qualifications Board and education team are working constantly with firms, training partners and students to improve and develop the training.

So it is against this background that ICAS decided to launch the initiative to find the 35 CAs under 35 of our brightest and most inspirational young members.

Recognising, encouraging and supporting the next generation of CA leaders will be crucial in ensuring that our profession continues to be at the forefront of all the things we hold dear: ethical behaviour, professionalism and acting in the public interest among them.

All 21,000 of our CAs can be proud of the young men and women recognised in the 35 CAs under 35 list. If nothing else, they demonstrate we can have confidence our profession is in good hands.

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