Inside ICAS: Top talking points from November 2023
Your Office Bearer team review their top talking points from the past month.
From the ethical impacts of AI to reading the tea leaves on the future of the profession, our President, Deputy President and Vice President highlight some of the key ICAS issues and activities from November 2023.
Clive’s top talking point
Whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic in your view of technology, there’s no denying its impacts are continually altering our professional landscape.
Clive Bellingham CA, ICAS President
"We’re often considering how technology will impact our day-to-day roles. Some see it as a threat, removing jobs CAs could be performing, others as an opportunity, automating the mundane so that we can focus on the more specialised strategic thinking that technology isn’t (yet) capable of. But whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic in your view of technology, there’s no denying its impacts are continually altering our professional landscape.
Earlier this month I hosted a webinar that focused on one particular technology, AI, and the challenges it poses to our profession from an ethical perspective.
The panel, including Bruce Cartwright CA, Chief Executive of ICAS, Loree Gourley, Chair of the ICAS Ethics Board, and Jonny Jacobs CA, Finance Director EMEA, Starbucks, shared their real-life experiences of AI and in dealing with ethical dilemmas and choices.
As noted in the webinar, one difference with AI in comparison to many other technologies is the sheer pace of change. It’s a technology that’s using human input to evolve in real time. And whilst that constant evolution should mean it’s continually better able to meet our needs, it also demands an agile state of vigilance for CAs as individuals and for those of us in governance roles.
It was a really informative conversation with plenty of practical takeaways, including Loree’s five elements of good ethical leadership. You can catch up on it here."
Alison’s top talking point
CAs are a group with the professional creativity, skills and expertise to stand the test of time.
Alison Cornwell CA, ICAS Deputy President
"Keeping with the future-focused theme, my attention was grabbed by the November issue of our CA magazine and its special report on a programme of work entitled Shaping the Profession. The programme, which ICAS board and panel members have agreed to develop, is designed to help us consider what the future may look like for CAs from a professional perspective, and what the public may need from us in future.
As part of the report, six CAs were asked to read the metaphorical tea leaves and predict what’s in store for our profession. As you’d expect, technology featured heavily as a topic, with one contributor, John Watson CA, the Chair of Intelligent Growth Solutions, suggesting that in future nine of out ten things we do every day in finance could be automated by AI.
A range of other non-tech challenges were also considered, including geopolitical factors and issues related to the ESG (environmental, social, governance) agenda.
One common factor among the group was the notion that, despite all these challenges, CAs are a group with the professional creativity, skills and expertise to stand the test of time.
As Annie Graham CA, EY Partner and ICAS Council member noted, ‘our training gives us the technical capability, but also the values which make us adept at responding extremely well to uncertainty and change’.
Karen’s top talking point
In this case, the tech has most definitely been the problem, not the solution.
Karen Scholes CA, ICAS Vice President
“The optimistic view of technology that Clive mentions is where it helps make our jobs easier by speeding up time-consuming tasks.
Of course, as we all know, when the tech isn’t working as it should, simple tasks can be a challenge in themselves.
One area in which technology has been proving a difficulty to CAs in the here and now is with the submission of corporation tax returns for clients.
In this case, the tech has most definitely been the problem, not the solution, and in some cases a job that should take seconds has been taking up to eight hours.
ICAS received a lot of feedback from members about these delays and was quick to raise the issues with HMRC. Their response? It’s hoped that a software update should help alleviate the delays many of you have encountered.
With this issue, and any other, the ICAS Tax team is always keen to hear your insights and learn from your first-hand experience. The more they know about what is and isn’t working for you, the more battles they can fight on your behalf.
You can get in touch with the ICAS tax team here."
What else has got us talking...
- Registrations opened for the 2024 ICAS Admission Ceremony. Join us to celebrate your admission to professional membership and discover how ICAS can support you as you embark on the next step of your career.
- Our experts provided detail on the key announcements within the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, with Bruce Cartwright CA, ICAS CEO, calling it, “a statement full of mixed messages".
- ICAS gave evidence to a House of Lords inquiry into the draft Finance Bill. The inquiry is considering a criminal offence for promoters of tax avoidance, R&D tax relief and collection of additional data by HMRC.