Sunday 14 Jul 2024
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This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly on June 3, 2024 - June 9, 2024

AS technological advancements and growing sustainability consciousness are poised to reshape the accountancy industry, the Malaysian Institute of Accountants’ (MIA) annual flagship event — the MIA International Accountants Conference 2024 — aims to prime participants to be future-ready to tackle an unprecedentedly challenging business landscape.

This shift in the industry presents an opportunity for accountancy professionals to play a key role in driving the sustainability agenda and nation-building, according to MIA CEO Dr Wan Ahmad Rudirman Wan Razak.

As leaders and partners of businesses and governments, accountancy professionals are ideally positioned to drive the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda that is the backbone of sustainability and aid in achieving the climate goals reaffirmed during 2023’s COP28 (United Nations Climate Change Conference) as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, says Wan Ahmad.

That is why the theme “Navigating New Frontiers, Embracing Sustainability” was chosen for the MIA International Accountants Conference 2024, which will strongly emphasise embracing sustainability.

“We have strategically designed the MIA International Accountants Conference 2024 to equip and future-proof accountancy professionals with new relevant skill sets that pertain to sustainability and ESG — such as carbon credits and taxation, climate and green technology financing, ethical leadership and risk management through the lens of sustainability, governance of sustainability frameworks, and sustainability measurement, reporting and assurance in compliance with global standards,” says Wan Ahmad.

“We hope that by preparing accountancy professionals to manage these new frontiers, they will be creators of sustainable value, effective and valued business partners, contributors to nation-building and respected advocates for good governance in the public’s interest,” he adds.

To ensure that professional accountants are well-equipped to navigate sustainability challenges as well as ensure that the profession continues to add value, MIA is developing the MIA Sustainability Blueprint for the Accountancy Profession and MIA Sustainability Framework and Targets.

“The blueprint focuses on advocating sustainability for the accountancy profession whereas the framework outlines the sustainability agenda for the institute,” says MIA conference director and executive director of strategy and development G Shanmugam.

Overall, the MIA International Accountants Conference 2024 will feature 16 sessions and 80 speakers who excel in their respective fields. The first plenary session, entitled “Emerging Frontiers: Accountants’ Role in Navigating Malaysia’s Sustainability Landscape”, will set the tone of the conference, as it focuses on the theme itself.

“It will discuss Malaysia’s transition to sustainability, as well as the MIA Sustainability Blueprint that sets the sustainability agenda for the profession and institute, and charts the way forward for the future fitness of the profession,” Shanmugam says.

“Among the areas the MIA sustainability agenda will focus on are governance, accounting, people, reporting, process, assurance, systems, regulations and guidance. These are the core areas the accountancy profession can easily add value to,” he adds.

The conference will also feature sustainability matters and developments that are highly relevant to the profession, such as synergising International Financial Reporting Standards’ (IFRS) Accounting and Sustainability Standards, carbon taxes and environmental tax policies, frameworks for implementing sustainability-integrated and tech-led governance, public sector perspectives on sustainability, and sustainability leadership.

The MIA International Accountants Conference 2024 will be graced by distinguished speakers including Minister of Finance II Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan, who will deliver the keynote address, as well as International Federation of Accountants president Asmâa Resmouki, who will speak on the future directions of the profession vis-à-vis sustainability and new emerging frontiers for accountancy professionals.

With recent geopolitical developments, climate change risks and other emerging issues, the world continues to showcase its dynamic nature. Given this, Wan Ahmad says accountancy professionals must be resilient, adept and adaptable in navigating any development and challenges that may emerge.

“Therefore, accountancy professionals require a strong technical foundation in finance and accountancy competencies, combined with robust non-financial competencies such as troubleshooting and problem-solving, strategic leadership and professional judgement that position them as all-rounders and trusted business partners for organisations.

“In other words, accountancy professionals must be able to harness both financial and non-financial insights to boost resilience against prolonged global uncertainty and tremendous headwinds,” he adds.

Among these non-financial insights is the adoption of technological advancements in the accountancy industry. According to MIA Digital Technology Implementation Committee member Prof Dr David Asirvatham, the roles and job scope of accountancy professionals will change as technology continues to disrupt businesses.

To ensure the profession’s relevance, accountancy professionals must be able to:

  • Drive change and transform companies and business models;
  • Function as data scientists given that they are dealing with massive volumes of data;
  • Act as digital playmakers whereby they should be able to identify emerging technologies and apply these to transform business and organisations; and
  • Drive sustainability practices by being competent in capturing, measuring, and reporting ESG data as well as providing assurance about them.

The MIA International Accountants Conference 2024 is also designed to advance the digital transformation of the profession to address future relevance, whereby the institute will continue to accelerate its digital advocacy efforts as steered by the MIA Digital Technology Blueprint issued in 2018, says Shanmugam.

“Accountancy professionals play an important role in the digital economy and are advised to continue transforming and acquiring digital competencies for future relevance. If accountancy professionals refuse to pay attention to technology disruption and adoption, others will do so and the profession will lose its relevance,” he stresses.

“To meet the needs of employers and organisations across all sectors, accountancy professionals must enhance their competencies on the adoption and implications of technologies and tools that are relevant to the profession, such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation, big data analytics, blockchain, cloud and cybersecurity.

“This will better equip them to navigate their expanding and diverse roles to provide effective leadership and service excellence in this complex, disruptive and unprecedented post-Covid-19 world that is increasingly digitalised,” Shanmugam adds.

 

The Edge is the official media partner of the MIA International Accountants Conference 2024 

 

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