Indian Students Perform Very Well Relative To The Global Benchmarks: Raymond Jack
Indian Students Perform Very Well Relative To The Global Benchmarks: Raymond Jack

In an exclusive interaction Raymond Jack, Executive Director, Finance and Operations, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) shares with BW about the parameters that current and future accountants or finance professionals will need to look for business valuations. He also talks about the collaboration that the global body of professional accountants is exploring in the country. Excerpts

What are your views on the education and training imparted globally vis-à-vis Charted Accountant (CA) course with respect to the new age technologies?

For ACCA, it is all about thinking ahead. We have a broad vision in terms of what we teach and also how we examine. I'll explain to you what I mean by that. In terms of its breadth, we try to make sure that ACCA professional accountants have not just technical skills, but they also have a range of other skills, including digital skills, emotional intelligence, and ethical skills are all combinations of skills and educational factors that we believe professional accountants of today and into the future are required. So it's the real future-proofing to make sure they remain relevant and in particular relevant for employers. And in terms of depth, we are seeing more of is certainly the desire to be very skilled in the manipulation of data, the interpretation of data and also the insight that the data pervades.

An accountant of yesterday would be seen to be very transactional, in terms of, they would be producing some of the data. Whereas today and going forward, they are very insightful in terms of providing insight.

According to you, how is the industry-transforming with the rapid changes that are taking place?

We are all very engaged in digital transformations and also making sure that the organisations are developing data manipulation techniques, the use of data and increasingly trying to make that data available in real-time. Providing real-time data to other parts of the organisation in order to make the very best decisions. Digital transformations take a number of formats as both what we think what we call the ports and the hosts or of the port is developing tools and data manipulation tools, and different software packages to be able to make the data available. And then it's about developing the talent within the organisation to be able to utilize that data, interpret it and provide insight towards it.

What kind of approaches are required by the business and finance team to engage with emerging risks and take advantage of value creation opportunities?

There are a few things that are tropical at the moment, starting with risk management. I think CFOs and finance functions really need to have a highly developed skill around risk management as the environments are changing quite rapidly. And incorporating things like cybersecurity, tax, international trade etcetera are changing rapidly at the moment, and certainly, CFOs and professional accountants need to be very well attuned and be ready to apply these things.

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of organisations are trying to consolidate data and particular hosts stored and making it accessible. So, a lot of thinking around the rate to apply in particular environments and organisations are being very acquisitive. CFOs are talking to us about working across multiple platforms and we, ACCA, can help them develop and train their talent to be able to deal with the demands that I've just described. We are now in a very strong possession because of the nature of the ACCA’s qualification.

Do you think that Indian educational bodies offering CA training and education have adopted the new trends in their curriculum?

We are seeing a lot of students that are coming to study at ACCA are very competent in these areas from the universities that we work with i.e. over 100 universities here in India. The ACCA courses are embedded within the universities and we are seeing good skill levels in these areas from the existing students. In fact, our Indian students perform very well relative to the global benchmarks that the ACCA set. Also, generally speaking, I think Indian students are well-positioned to study the ACCA qualification.

How do you propose that one can transform a mere finance professional into a strategic value creator?

I think it's across the whole range of the qualification. To start things, with both the technical aspects of the qualification and across into a strong digital understanding, ethical understanding, emotional understanding, it's really about educating the student more widely than just technical. The other thing that's unique about being a professional accountant is that every student has to have a professional experience record, which they can develop that professional experience in a variety of different employers. It doesn't need to be the one but they do have to complete a record to professional experience which is endorsed and signed off by a qualified professional accountant. By the time they are qualified, and they've got a wide range of skills that enable them to go into an organisation and deliver sustainable value. The reason I know that works is because we have a strong track record with employers who approach us and ask us to help them find and recruit ACCAs because they give, what we call, rating into organisations and deliver value.

Please elaborate on the SCG parameters and the obstacles in the widespread adoption of the same?

ACCA as a professional body advocates integrated reporting. We regard that as a very important way of reporting for an organisation to sustainably. So I think maybe just to help you describe that, and what that does it make it as an organisation to report its outputs, how it delivers those outputs, the risks associated with those outputs, and also how it does that in a sustainable way. And it's specifically aligned, if it's done well towards the stakeholders of the organisation regardless it is important to them. So that's certainly something that ACCA is very strong about.

The other thing that we ask all our members and students to be very strong around the ethics and governance and it is a part of the syllabus as well as exams. We also have an ethics and professional skills module and then exam that the older students and members have to take. As part of being a professional accountant, you have to do continuous professional development and again, ethics and governance which is part of the sustainable at the delivery of the sustainability goals is something that we insist that our members need to be very professional.

I guess the other thing from an ACCA perspective is that we are very strong in what we do socially and have a public volume motive as part of the purpose. And we do a lot of work with the World Bank and other global economic institutions and also local institutions to help develop capital markets and developing countries. We also support Public Sector Accounting in developing countries. As an organisation, we do those things ourselves.

Looking more widely, we collaborate with other organisation to help in the measurement of sustainability. A lot of organisations are trying to now not just record the fact that they're having an impact on the environment but trying to measure it. As a professional accounting body, we are very active in trying to help organisations measure the impact of their environmental sustainability.

What kind of collaborations or linkages are you trying to explore during your visit to India?

The linkages that we explore are the three main areas. First, as employers, we are now talking to a number of the best employers in India who are increasingly seeing the value of having ACCA. Thus, creating more opportunities for employment. The second one is universities we collaborate with over 100 universities in India now and developing more University partnerships and embedding the ACCA qualification into those universities is really strong and it works well. And the third thing, as to what we call, is our learning provider network. We need to work with specialists’ trainers who are highly skilled at teaching the ACCA syllabus. Those are the areas that I'm working on predominantly across my term in India this week.

As the executive director, what are your future goals with respect to India?

My future goals are primarily about the growth and development of the ACCA qualification and promoting the public value that ACCA offers in a global environment. But the success of that is really taking the reach of ACCA more widely across the world and that's predominantly my focus.

The ACCA team, we've been growing very rapidly in India over the last three to four years. And certainly, we've got ambitions to continue with double-digit growth over the next five years.

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