Socio-economic factors signal shift in training needs for finance professionals: ACCA

KARACHI (November 18, 2009) – Social and economic trends have influenced dramatically the training requirements of the global finance profession, according to a new report by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

The accountancy body’s new Insight Report, “The 2009 Employer Guide to Training Trends in Finance” says that social networking habits are driving demand for e-learning.

Compared with last year’s results, there was an 11% increase in the number of respondents stating a preference for e-learning when developing their business skills.

Arif Masud Mirza, Head of ACCA Pakistan says, “What we are witnessing is the influence of social networking habits on people’s professional development learning medium preferences.  Recent research has indicated that networking and blogging now accounts for a greater proportion of time spent on the Internet than is devoted to e-mail.

This shift is filtering through into learning preferences.”

Mr Mirza, continues: “The complexity of the business environment and the uncertain economic times have shone the spotlight on a number of key value adding activities performed by accountants. The importance of these activities is, in turn, influencing the type of skills accountants are seeking to develop. Accountants are managing the risks, ensuring the sustainability of the business, and they are acting as the custodians of good corporate governance and ethical standards.”

For the study, 5,000 ACCA members globally were asked to identify the skills they most wanted to develop further, with risk management and financial management featuring high up the list.  In terms of their business skills development, members identified analysis skills as their number one priority.

Mr Mirza adds: “This verdict is a reflection of what business thinks is important – sound financial management, robust risk management and applying financial insight to commercial decision making are highly prized in the current business environment.”

The report also showed that:

  • Financial reporting, communication skills, leadership skills, and change management skills were also all identified as key areas for development.
  • Organisations must offer a blend of learning approaches, and e-learning needs to become a core component of this offer. The report shows that accountants prefer to acquire these skills in a face-to-face setting, but e-learning is gaining in popularity.
  • A consistent, global approach is importantas the findings show that what accountants want to learn and how they want to do this is consistent regardless of geography. Currently, there is a consensus as to what businesses need from their finance people.

Mr Mirza concludes “Throughout 2009, salary and training budgets were under pressure. The external environment has had a huge impact on the demands placed on finance professionals and the nature of the contribution they are being asked to make. However, time spent devising and implementing an appropriate employee development programme remains as important an investment for an organisation’s future as ever.”

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