ICAS President, Indy Singh Hothi CA: The future of accounting
ICAS President Indy Singh Hothi CA on the headwinds facing the profession and the skillset needed to forge a bright future
The world is becoming increasingly unpredictable. As I write, we’re experiencing a perfect storm of rising inflation, increased energy costs, a cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine and the prospect of recession – as well as a global pandemic and a climate emergency. But strategy season is also upon us, and September is a time to look forward, to assess and gain insights on the trends that will affect businesses in 2023.
This is where we, as CAs, really come into our own. With the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us, we naturally find ourselves wanting to forget about the difficulties of the past few years and turn instead to how we might get back to normal. But it is abundantly clear that Covid-19 has not only changed our perception of what “normal” looks like, it’s also provided us with an invaluable opportunity for change.
Considering the current backdrop, it feels as if we’ve arrived at a crossroads: do we turn and look backwards or do we reset our focus for a new and improved future? It is time that we looked beyond the bottom line. To forge a brighter future we must be leading from the front and acting as positive changemakers in this new world.
We have the opportunity to reconsider what’s really important. We’ve seen that employees, customers and consumers want to interact with businesses that share their values and play a positive part in society. And businesses’ accountability to the communities they serve, to their employees and to the environment, has come under the spotlight like never before. The landscape around us is changing dramatically, from the audit and corporate governance ecosystem to a new focus on climate and the welfare and wellbeing of people and communities.
Sustainability and ESG must therefore be fundamental to any business operation. I truly believe that CAs can be the key to that process. We possess a unique set of skills, expertise and experience that can make a positive and lasting impact, not only on our profession and companies, but also on our planet.
Away from the numbers
I believe an ability to view all aspects of a business is more important than ever to help us through the choppy waters ahead. But the responsibility is on all of us: whatever the size of our organisation, we must set as much value by the health of our people as we do the health of our business. Strong leadership is about empowerment and humanity, not just numbers.
We must stand as the champions of diversity and inclusion within our organisations, and also the wider world. By increasing the accessibility and diversity of our profession, we will collectively reap the benefits. And, perhaps most importantly, we will safeguard the pipeline of talent into our profession, fostering greater innovation and growth, and nurturing the ethical business guardians of tomorrow.
Underpinning this is a mould-breaking opportunity within the grasp of every CA: the powerful force of technology is on the horizon, from machine learning to AI to quantum computing. It’s up to us to advance our technological skills to provide the transparent and trusted financial reporting for which we’re known. Rather than viewing technology warily, our profession now has the opportunity to embrace it, to unlock its potential and drive forward change as a force for good.
It was through technology that we at ICAS were able to provide advice and support during the early days of the pandemic, especially to our small practice members who were working with clients going through some extremely challenging times. We were quick to ensure our members were kept up to date with the latest developments by offering a suite of podcasts, webinars and thought leadership. And it was via technology that we were able to ensure the training of our students continued uninterrupted, with the smooth transition to a completely online environment.
Because there is no point contemplating the future of our profession without thinking about our CA students, and those young people still in school or university who might want to join us. The trainees currently working in our firms are more than just junior colleagues. With our support, and through their effort and their determination, they will be the business leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and philanthropists of tomorrow. It is vital that we nurture their talents, provide mentoring, be their champions, and welcome them into our global network.
I’m genuinely excited for the year ahead. And I am also truly optimistic that ICAS and its members will grasp this opportunity to ensure our profession makes a positive and lasting difference to the world – and for generations to come.