Thursday 18 May 2017

Our Accountancy Profession Has A Bright Future

Tan Sri Samad Alias is a 74 year old accountant. What has he got to do with a  symposium for young accountants? Well, when he was asked about the impact of blockchain technology, his answer was very convincing. His role in the conference was to share with the audience what does it take to be a great accountant. He did that very well. His life story was a compelling example of how far trust and integrity would help professionals in building their career.

Tan Sri Samad sharing his views and experience
The Young Accountants Symposium was organised by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) for the first time. Most of the participants were below 40 years old and came from many economic sectors. The idea of having this symposium is to provide them with the exposure of what's coming and how they could seek opportunities while managing any risk to their career paths. Dato Yusli Mohamed Yusof, the President of the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance gave his keynote address while Dato Zaiton, the MIA Vice-President, welcomed the participants. Both of them also touched on integrity and upholding professional values in their speeches.

The opening gambit
I was on the first panel where we discussed digital economy. Well, I was the oldest. However, I shared with the audience my experience which required regulators to leverage on technology and why accountants, me included, had to step up and be comfortable in dealing with changes and complexities. At the same time, my message for young accountants was for them to uphold professional values at all cost, while acquiring knowledge and skills which are required by their work places and industries to ensure they remain relevant.

Sharing my ideas. Look how old I was compared with the rest of the panellist.
The questions that were asked by the young accountants showed how mature they were. While some were concerned in dealing with change, especially with the advancement in technology, all questions were relevant and required the panellists to dive into their knowledge banks and experience for answers. They were active participants in discussing present and future challenges of the accountancy profession.

I was seated with Tan Sri Samad during lunch and we were accompanied by many young accountants. We discussed many interesting topics including fundraising in the future, regulatory frameworks, industry disruption and its impact on society as well as corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Tan Sri Samad told me that the issues covered were very different from those discussed over lunch in other MIA events where senior accountants would be raising old issue such as audit exemption, as if there were no other pressing challenges to the profession. 

The depth of our discussion and the familiarity of those around the table with what were discussed really convinced both of us about how much potentials are there in those young accountants. We suggested more informal activities to be organised so that more knowledge and experience could be transferred and shared, with one caveat. Please do not invite senior accountants who are not keen to re-invent themselves in the ever changing environment.

I suppose if these young accountants are able to decide for themselves how the profession should evolve with time, they would be able to drive the accountancy profession to greater heights, beyond the imagination of their senior counterparts who are happy burying their heads in their imaginary sand. This is where any regulatory reform around MIA should consider having more young accountants to be in the driving seat, with minimum oversight from the seniors. Possible? Nothing is impossible, as what they were told in the symposium.

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