Notification to Students: Ethics and Professional Skills Module

Dear ACCA Students,

Please note that effective October 31, 2017, ACCA’s current Professional Ethics Module will change to Ethics and Professional Skills Module.

Understanding the new module

The new module will have key significant features that will be different from the current module. Please note the following features of the new module:

  • The duration of the new module will be 20 hours
  • The new module will cost £60
  • You should finish the module before starting the Strategic Professional exams
  • You can start when you are studying any Applied Skills exam
  • You are awarded a certificate upon completion

If you prefer to sit for the current Ethics Module

The duration is about three hours and is taken online. There are no costs associated with the current Module.  It may be taken by any student who has completed F1 to F3.

ACCA encourages you to do so now, don’t procrastinate! Take time off and get the module out of the way! You will be happy that you did. Good luck in your completion of the module and best wishes in your ACCA journey.

For any enquiries on the above, please contact The Education Team  by e-mailing: educationsa@accaglobal.com

 

FUTURE LEADERS VS TODAY’S ACCOUNTANT

After the stock market crash of the 1940’s, businesses had to change to survive, and they did. Roaring through the 50’s business adapted, and so did the CFO. Business today has to evolve too in order to navigate through tough financial territory. In the aftershock of the 2008 global meltdown, it seems the local economy is struggling to find solace in a playing field marred by one downturn after the other. In an essence, it is a market filled with bears and few bulls.

The role of an accountant is changing too, moving out from behind office partitioning, to playing center field. The reality is that in order for companies to remain competitive, then every adaptive CFO has to step in and be the driver of change.

By hosting the “Future Accountants – Employer event” on the 14th September, ACCA aimed to drive this message of change amongst human resource professionals and shift focus on employment practices. The main message: HR specialists need to think ahead, and ensure that future CFO’s joining their companies are equipped for the progressively fastening rate of financial change.

Through a host of panel experts, the event unpacked ACCA’s recent report titled “Professional Accountants – the future”. The report, created through global collaboration, unpacks tell-tale signs of the future of accountancy and how HR could benefit from employing the “right type of accountant”.

RIGHT TYPE OF ACCOUNTANT

What will the right type of accountant be? Through the advent of the digital age, accountancy practice will be integrated into every aspect of the companies DNA and the accountant would be required to be equally available to dissect, analyse and drive decisions based on the information at hand. If the 24-hour drive-through revolutionised the takeaway industry in the 1980’s then the 24-hour accountant will do the same for the 2020’s.

In many countries, HR employment practices are already changing. Companies are realising the importance of hiring the future CFO opposed to the today’s accountant.

DRIVERS OF CHANGE

Tax, audit assurance, corporate reporting, strategic planning for better governance risk, financial management, and ethics were earmarked as the main drivers of change. Identified in the report, these drivers of change carry significant impact in employment practices in South African and abroad. Financial and business planning is becoming a global affair. Even if a company is solely based in South Africa, global effects can be far reaching.

Consider this as a well-established movement by ACCA, aimed to merge good corporate governance with credible employment processes, decreasing possible risk faced by employment practices” – Trudy Naidoo, Associate Director, Assurance, EY Inc. Africa

ACCA believes that now is the time to introduce companies to the benefits of employing globally relevant, integrated CFO’s. Through ongoing training initiatives and a strong focus on good governance, it is essential for CFO’s to evolve into digital aware, collaborative leaders. The future of business depends on it.

For further information on the ACCA Report “Professional Accountants – the future” please visit http://bit.ly/2cPNoGp

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Tech Savvy Accountants

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The 2016 WEF in Davos sees leaders from across the world gathering to discuss pertinent issue that will shape the economic structure of the world. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, referring to the advent of economy-changing technologies. Technology is changing the way business is conducted, one of the industries that has and will continue to change its methods of doing is the accountancy industry. There is a huge demand for tech-savvy accountants. Wesley Rashid explains the importance of technology for the modern accountant and how it can benefit both the profession and clients.

Why is it important for a modern accountant to be technologically aware and capable?

Love it or hate it, technology is ever changing and accountants are now expected to stay up to date with these advances in order to keep their clients happy. The ones that are capable are the ones that stay connected with their clients and adopt a proactive approach, the ones that stay retrospective – well, its time to pack up your calculator and pen.

How do you increase your technological competency?

I’m presuming most students are of the millennial generation, those who are used to using tech every day. Increase your competency by getting out there and attending meet ups, using social channels and surfing the web – there’s lots of information to digest online, even on Facebook and Twitter.

What specific doors can being tech savvy open for an accountant?

Technology makes accountancy practices as user-friendly for staff and clients as possible, reducing fixed costs in running the practice and a need for clients to see them as tech-friendly. So there are lots of opportunities for the tech-savvy accountant. Look at us – accountants for tech start ups using tech to offer real time financial analysis and support for tech start ups so they can make quick decisions and grow faster. This has a massive impact on client satisfaction.

Where and how do you see technology changing the accounting profession?

Accountants and tax professionals will become advisers and software specialists. Focus is on cloud and harnessing good data to provide clients with sound advice, and automate processes – thus giving you more time to add value to the client’s bottom line.

Is technology making accounting/accountants more innovative or the other way round?

Yes, the ability of using the right tech tools will create profitability for both the firm and the client. Drilling down to data, automating processes such as auto-population of tax and VAT returns and collaboration by use of cloud accounting packages can speed things up and leave the accountant open to spending time on what they do best.

Source: http://yourfuture.accaglobal.com/global/en/blog/in-demand-tech-savvy-accountants.html

Generation Y Changes Finance Stereotypes

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If change is inevitable, then the ability to adapt to it is paramount. Gen Y is suited up and ready to enter the office to take up their roles as finance professionals. But what should be expected by corporates as they set up a platform for this generation.

The image that comes to mind when the words ‘finance professional’ are mention is of a strict gentleman or woman in a black suit that smells of strong black coffee with shiny black shoes. The walls of their offices are decorated with certificates that attest to the achievements of the professional. A thinker that loves silence, meetings and charts that outline plans spanning 20 years. Generation Y brings a different image though. The ACCA report titled Generation Y: Realising the potential, highlights the fact that the pool of talent for HR personnel has changed, Gen Y forms the majority of the talent and HR personnel and CFOs cannot use the same barometer to gauge the potential of this new generation.

The ‘selfie’ generation has a different outlook on life and they require that this outlook be married to all their activities including their work life. Barrie Bramley, Curious Disruptor at Calidascope, points out that unlike baby boomers, this generation place value in freedom. This can be seen in their attachment to their mobile devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets. They do not believe that they should be in the office to do their work, they believe that technology allows them to work from anywhere at any time. “It is not uncommon for this Gen Y to ask their managers for flexible business hours, or to go work on a project outside the office”, said Bramley. “It is managers that will be willing to negotiate such terms with this cohort that will get the best out of this generation”.

Gen Y does not put much value on titles, they believe in adding value. “In this age when you know enough, you are qualified enough”, said Bramley, “this generation is very informed and they have a peculiar ability to absorb information that serves them well in business. They are also colourful, they are loud and believe that this should work together in expressing themselves in their roles at work. In her book, Knowing Y: Engage the Next Generation Now, marketing and media expert Sarah Sladek lists 5 motivations that drive this generation and make them so different from the previous generations:

  • 92 percent believe that business success should be measured by more than salary
  • 80 percent prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews
  • 61 percent feel personally responsible to make a difference in the world
  • 50 percent want to start their own business, or have already done so
  • 2 years is their average employment tenure

Bramley suggests that there is a shift in wisdom in the corporate world, that while Baby Boomers were able to take us to where we are now, Gen Y will be able help reach greater heights. “This is the case of ‘two rights’ that need to be amalgamated, it is not that Baby Boomers were doing it wrong, and it is not that Gen Y is juvenile and should silence their voices”, commented Bramley on the different approaches to business Gen Y and Baby Boomers have in the office.

It is HR managers and CFOs that can be willing to invest in knowing the motivations of this generation that most benefit from it. Personnel is the business’ most valuable asset, the right candidate will do wonders for the business’ bottom-line.

Entrepreneurial Activity in Africa: Mentorship

As South Africa celebrates youth month, it is only relevant to look at the development of these “future leaders”. Entrepreneurship has had positive results for countries that found themselves in negative economic rubble, it was through the encouragement of this spirit that most of them emerged from this. The same medicine has been prescribed for the African continent, our country has erected the Small Business Ministry with this in mind. But what can the corporate world do to offer the correct resources to bring us to our desired end?

“Never have I seen further than when I stood on the shoulders of giants”, this old-age adage takes form in Ashish J Thakkar’s words (the founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation) when commenting on the African youth’s activity in entrepreneurship, “I frequently meet with entrepreneurs all over Africa, and my first question is always, “Look, what can I do for you?” They never tell me that money is their primary need—what they are really looking for is guidance. Many young African entrepreneurs are the children of civil servants or farmers. They don’t come from business backgrounds, so where can they turn for advice?”

Although the lack of funds and limited education are often noted as barriers by the youth looking to venture into entrepreneurship, it seems that mentorship and guidance are demanded more. But how should CFOs and business managers approach mentorship?

www.chronus.com offer the following steps as a guideline to setting up a mentoring programme:

  • Design Your Mentoring Program

The starting point for any mentoring program begins with two important questions:

  • Why are you starting this program?
  • What does success look like for participants and the organization?

To answer these questions you will need to dive deep to understand your target audience. Make sure you understand who they are, where they are, their development needs, and their key motivations to participate. Translate your vision into SMART objectives: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound

  • Attract Participants for Your Mentoring Program

The best designed mentoring programs won’t get far without effective program promotion, mentor recruitment, and training.

When new mentoring programs are introduced in organizations, there is generally natural enthusiasm. Yet this enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into high participation rates. A common reason is the absence of effective promotion. Don’t assume potential mentors and mentees understand the benefits. For many, this will be their first opportunity to participate in mentoring. You will need to convince them that participating is worth their time and effort.

  • Connect Mentors and Mentees

A productive mentoring relationship depends on a good match.

Matching is often one of the most challenging aspects of a program. Participants will bring various competencies, backgrounds, learning styles and needs. A great match for one person may be a bad match for another.

Matching starts by deciding which type of matching you’ll offer in your program: self-matching or admin-matching. Consider giving mentees a say in the matching process by allowing them to select a particular mentor or submit their top three choices. Self-matching is administrative light, which in larger programs can be a huge plus.

  • Guide Mentoring Relationships

Now that your participants are enrolled, trained, and matched, the real action begins.

It is also where mentoring can get stuck. Left to themselves, many mentorships will take off and thrive. But some may not. Why? Because mentoring is not typically part of one’s daily routine. Without direction and a plan, the mentoring relationship is vulnerable to losing focus and momentum. That is why providing some structure and guidance throughout the mentorship is vital to a successful mentoring program

  • Measure Your Mentoring Program

Understanding how your program measures up to expectations may well be the most important phase of all.

Mentoring programs should be tracked, measured, and assessed at three altitudes: the program, the mentoring connection, and the individual. To be effective you need the ability to capture metrics and feedback throughout the program lifecycle.

Companies that set-up mentorship programmes will reap a myriad of rewards, one of them is that they are guaranteed that skills are trickled down to new personnel and this will ensure the retention of proper skills in the company. The second benefit that relates to entrepreneurship is that more youth will have the opportunity to impact positively the economy of the country.

CFOs Required To Plan Ahead

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“He who fails to plan, plans to fail”, an age-old adage that has guided individuals and companies to success still rings true in the fight against gender imbalance in the workplace.

Regulatory requirements do their bid in combating gender imbalance in senior management positions, but it is only when companies are exposed to the true benefits of gender diversity that the balance will materialise. The finance sector has shown great results in embracing gender diversity – in South Africa, the mining and finance sectors boast the most female participation in senior positions than in other sectors. CFOs and their team leaders have an opportunity to level the scale by using available data within the organisation and also through their “top table” positions.

The ACCA report, gender diversity to boost business performance, highlights four things that CFOs and their team leaders can do in order to tilt the scale of gender diversity:

  • ESTABLISH THE BUSINESS CASE

Incorporate increased shareholder value (eg through increased sales achieved by reaching a wider customer base), wider stakeholder value (including greater employee satisfaction) and a strengthened global value chain.

Include the downside risks of poor diversity (such as lost business, poor decision making or regulatory costs).

Tailor your business case to the needs and interests of other senior executives to achieve maximum buy-in.

  • SET TARGETS AND KPIS

Set challenging targets for diversity: 40% of senior roles to be filled by women, for example.

Analyse financial and other data to establish links between diversity and performance.

Identify both hard (eg gender headcounts) and soft (eg employee satisfaction) diversity measures.

  • MANAGE DIVERSITY

Establish systems, processes and a culture that enable the expression of differing viewpoints.

Provide training in how to work effectively in diverse groups.

Set out clear progression criteria based on performance and potential.

Establish sound governance around diversity actions, for example, by including diversity KPIs in management reporting packs.

Set realistic expectations for diversity initiatives: ‘quick wins’ are unlikely.

  • BE TRANSPARENT

Report internally on diversity targets and measure performance against them.

Meet investor and regulator needs by reporting diversity information externally.

The lack of commitment to diversity by companies is highlighted as a barrier in the ACCA report. If CFOs and their team leaders would take steps such as the ones listed above, the issue of gender diversity in the workplace, and in senior positions, will be achieved much sooner than 2095 as predicted by some research.

Women Work for Free for Four Months of the Year

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While research shows that complete gender equality, with the efforts being put in now, will only be possible in 2095, the gender pay gap will only be totally bridged in 50 years.

Despite the benefits of gender equality released through research results yearly, the gender pay gap has widened over the years. In South Africa the gap between males and females is standing at 35%. This means that females get in a year what males get in eight months – meaning women work for free for four months as opposed to their male peers.

There are several factors that contribute to this gap widening. The ACCA report, gender diversity to boost business performance, highlights the lack of commitment from companies to gender equality. This one barrier is by far the most contributor. “Women with a degree earn on average 30% less than their male peers with similar levels of education, whereas the gap is lower for those with a basic or high-school education”, says Sandra Burmeister, CEO of the Landelahni Recruitment Group. In the past the pay gap was attributed to differences in skills and the experience women brought to the labour market; research shows that women that have the similar skills and the same qualifications still earn less than their male peers.

The pay gap seems to widen with age. The WageIndicator survey indicates that women under 25 years the gender pay gap is 15%. Between the ages of 25 and 34 years, it widens to 19%. This widening trend accelerates in the middle-age group (35-50 years) to reach 25%. Finally, during the later years of their working career, the earnings gap widens at a slower rate, with women over 50 experiencing a pay gap of 27%.

According to the World Economic Forum, closing the male-female employment gap would have huge economic benefits, boosting GDP by as much as 16%. By drawing on the full complement of available talent at all levels of the organisation, particularly in top leadership teams, companies have been shown to produce better financial results, particularly as opportunities grow in the knowledge economy. It makes sound business sense for pay inequality and job barriers for women to be removed.

There is an influx of females entering the finance profession; approximately half of ACCA students are female. The growing numbers of women accountants and their ever growing influence is perhaps most keenly evident among ACCA students and members in Singapore, where a staggering 75% are estimated to be female. It is imperative that this team entering the field finds the ground cultivated, females have proven their ambition and their ability to produce profitable results as much as their male peers. It is only fair that they get the same remuneration.

If research results have proven the link between women participation and improved financial performance then this gap is not just an issue of compliance, but it has become a moral issue that needs to be looked into and amended quickly.