Tuesday 30 April 2019

The Mystical Bali

While attending a conference on future competencies of accountants in Bali recently, I took the opportunity to explore Bali which it known for its beauty, culture and mystic.

I stayed at Nusa Dua, a private property where most international hotels are located. The security is tight, which makes you feel safe while enjoying the beauty of its beaches and food. An early morning stroll at the beach will give you the opportunity to enjoy sunrise and the changes of the complexion of the beach as the sun become brighter.

My first port of call was Bali Collection, a 5 minutes walk away from the hotel which I was staying. It gathers various cultural and local products in a very nice and cozy place, suitable for foreign tourists. You need to pay a bit more for the convenience and comfort.

I met Dr. Nur Mazilah, the CEO of MIA who was attending the same conference. We had an early seafood dinner while discussing about the development and issues of the accountancy profession in the region.

After the first day of the conference I, together with few other Malaysian delegates, went to Pantai Kandonganan  to have seafood dinner. This is one of the "must visit" places in Bali to enjoy its fresh and delicious seafood. Some of the food stalls offer cultural shows to their customers. On our way back to our hotels we stopped by a durian stall by the roadside and tried the taste of the King of Fruits, the Bali version.

I purposely took the evening flight out from Bali. That allowed me to spend some time around the mystical island. I hired a car and went to Bedugul, a highland where the famous Candi Kuning and Pura Ulun Danu are located. As our car climbed the hilly road toward Bedugul, I could see a beautiful scenary of the highland and padi fields which provide bountiful supply of food to the Balinese.

Although the weather was getting cloudier as we were arriving at Puri Ulun Danu, it somehow provided me with an interesting photo opportunity. The overcast sky made a very nice background of the temple.

After a quick lunch at a Muslim eatery located at the front at temple and a short stop at the nearby mosque for prayers, we headed back to Denpasar, the capital of Bali where the airport is located. It rained cats and dogs on our way back which prevented me from taking more photos of the beautiful scenery.

Although this was my third time in Bali, there are more places to be discovered. Bali offers an opportunity for visitors to observe tolerence and understanding as people from various beliefs and backgrounds congregate to make their leaving or enjoy the beauty of this mystical and beautiful island. If we view things from the lenses of humanity, we would find less reasons for conflicts and hatred. That is what you will bring back from Bali.

Saturday 27 April 2019

Disrupting A Profession

Where on earth could be a better place to learn about disruption other than Bali? The so called "Island of Gods" provided the right setting about the future which is highly volatile and exciting, full of the unknown unknowns. I was there to attend the IAI-AFA-IAESB International Conference 2019 with the theme "Professionalism of Accountants in the Disruption Era".

The conference was held in conjunction with the meeting of the International Accountants Education Standards Board's (IEASB) meeting held at this famous tourist destination.

It was also a reunion of sort as I managed to meet colleagues and friends from the accountancy profession who were together with me in the leadership of regional accountancy bodies. The guest of honour was Dr In-Ki Joo, the President of the International Federation of Accountants. In-Ki was together with me when we served the Executive Committee of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Accountants (CAPA). My Indonesian best friends, Pak Ahmadi Hadibroto and Pak Djoko Susanto, were there as well. They were my "partner in crime" when we led the Asean Federation of Accountants.

While we are fully aware of the rapid changes in the ways we live and work, particularly driven by technology and globalisation, the focus of the conference was how accounting education should evolve in meeting the demands arising from these changes. When industries are disrupted, accountants who are serving employers and clients within those industries must be able to create value using new competencies which are relevant, especially in using volumes of data and information which are captured through various means. 

I was impressed with the thoughts of Prof. Ainun Naim who was representing the Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education of Indonesia. In facing the 4th industrial revolution, competitive graduates should be literate in data, technology and humanity instead of the old literation of reading, writing and arithmetics. Universities should develop the cognitive capacity of students such as critical and systematic thinking skills, nurture cultural agility and enhance their entrepreneurship abilities. Indonesia will liberalise their eduction systems and allow education institutions do deliver education through various means including social media.

The other key focus area was professional scepticism and judgment of accountants which are widely discussed and challenged worldwide. This is also my favourite topic as I was closely involved in dealings with auditors' judgments when I was the Executive Chairman of the Audit Oversight Board. While the panellists shared the latest updates of the area, I sensed some reluctance in acknowledging that profits as one key drivers which caused professionals not to ask pertinent questions when performing their work. I suppose the debate will continue especially with some latest developments in the United Kingdom in reforming the auditing industry.

The topic of education reform and nurturing new key competencies were discussed in great details by experts from IAESB committee members and industry players. Telekom Indonesia is really serious in embarking on projects which not only change the ways their employees work but maximising their new competencies which are blended with technology in creating value for its customers.

What was clear to me is the importance of lifelong learning. While accountants may complain about their Continuing Professional Education requirements, that is the only way for them to acquire new skills and competencies which are critical in a highly disruptive business environment. At the same time, the time tested professional values such as integrity and courage to do the right thing will remain relevant for accountants to be respected as trusted professionals.

Ibu Elly, the Executive Director of Ikatan Akuntan Indonesia (IAI), and her team from IAI were really great hosts, not only in ensuring the conference went smoothly but also in providing us with their Indonesian hospitality. As usual, food was great!