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Your future is digital

14 June 2019

A strong finance and accounting background is no longer sufficient to become the value-add business partners of the future, says Stathis Gould, a deputy director at The International Federation of Accountants.

He stressed that tomorrow’s management accountants need to be competent in data science, analysis and visualisation.

Gould explained: “As the Economist aptly put it in 2017 the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. ”

To this end, IFAC said that future-ready accountants will need enhanced competence and skills in:

*Statistics – to discover the patterns and insights provided by data.

*Data applications covering a range of areas, such as data governance, data architecture, data creation and storage, data transformation (extraction & transformation), data manipulation and modelling, and technology skills including machine learning and algorithms.

*Business domain and applications combining an in-depth understanding of the business to identify problems and opportunities, and developing insights and intelligent solutions, including using tools for better visualisation and workflow integration.

Business and leadership competence will continue to be paramount to enable effective communication, interpretation of results and relevant recommendations for decision-making.

There is a real need to filter hype from reality, said Gould. Data need not be ‘big’ to be relevant and useful. Technology is not usually a constraint if you focus on quality of data, process, people and regulatory issues, he pointed out.

As accountants you will need to learn to prioritise analytics based on feasibility and impact, by identifying the top use cases that can create the greatest value quickly. Think about successes in terms of weeks not months, he said.

And, IFAC emphasised that there now needs to be better alignment between what is being taught in university education and what finance and accounting professionals now do. It also emphasised that professional accountancy organisations need to do a better job of ‘telling the story’ of the profession to millennials, Gen Z and Gen Y, and articulate the opportunities provided by these new career pathways.

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