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When preparing for my first-ever visit to Pakistan, three things came to mind as being of particularly important focus.Firstly, is why this is such an exciting time for a career in professional accountancy.

Secondly, why opportunities are especially rich in Pakistan. And thirdly, how professional accountants can play their part in building a better, more sustainable, more inclusive world that works for all people – whoever and wherever they are.

Future of work

This is an especially good time to talk about my first thought –opportunities for a future in professional accountancy because we have just published a global research report that explores precisely that the Global Talent Trends report was prepared following careful and detailed consultation with more than 8,000 finance professionals across 148 countries. The findings show a profession in good health, ready and equipped to find solutions to the challenges that face all businesses, all countries, and all people.

Some of the issues the research raised included the macro-economic, such as a global inflation crisis fueling economic uncertainty and instability. Also the future of work – how we respond in a time of change when the hybrid model of remote and office work is still taking shape; and amid the growing danger of burn-out and stress as we grapple with rapid transformation.

We’re living in an era where the skills of professional accountants are ever more mobile and valuable. And this is becoming an expectation – almost half of respondents globally (44%) expect to move to their next role within 12 months, rising to 69% over the next two years. Pakistan tells an even more dynamic story, with 55% of finance professionals expecting to move roles in the next 12 months, rising to 81% over the next two years.

In a world where businesses are increasingly driven by the power of technologies such as AI, big data, automation, and super-fast communications, qualifications like the ACCA will prove invaluable in developing the digital capability for tomorrow’s leaders to emerge and thrive.

Inclusivity and the role of technology

Accountancy is an increasingly meritocratic profession, where the content of your character and the quality of your mind and your work means much more than family connections or background. In our Global Talent Trends responses, 70% of people in Pakistan feel the culture of their organization is inclusive.

This is above the global average of 68%. It is right in line with the values of ACCA, which is dedicated to the proposition that all people, whoever and wherever they are, of whatever gender, nationality, race or class, should have the chance to pursue a professional education, without obstacles.

As communications technology and the possibilities of remote study and exams banishes the tyranny of geography and cultural presumptions, countless more people are freed to follow their dream of a purposeful, satisfying rewarding career.

Remote learning has brought extra flexibility to study, and gives more women – and also people who live in remoter areas of the country – the scope to build education into their lives. It opens up the promise of a profession to many who might have been excluded until now.

At the moment 48% of our members globally are women, yet 58% of our students are women. Our chief executive, Helen Brand, is a woman, and our global vice president, Ayla Majid, is a woman from Pakistan. There seems no limit to a business’s hunger for professional finance expertise and that brings me to my second point, which is that there are enough opportunities in Pakistan to satisfy the most ambitious accountant.

Outlook for a sustainable future

Before arriving here, I looked at Pakistan’s economic prospects, and they looked bright despite the current uncertain and challenging times. Pakistan’s ranking is rising as a preferred destination for finance and accounting outsourcing services. The business landscape is being transformed by digitalization, emerging business models, fintech growth and the growing importance of artificial intelligence and Blockchain.

The rise of the sustainable business agenda is nurturing the adoption of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) best practices, which is supporting new businesses, and new industries, based on the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, green investment, net zero carbon, sustainability reporting standards, climate action, and business integration opening new career verticals.

As it has in many countries worldwide during the pandemic, the public sector is growing in importance, as the world realizes that serious public challenges require a serious public response. This is leading to greater capacity building and professionalization for the finance function in the public sector.

Pakistan is no different, as its public sector has embarked on an ambitious transformation and modernization resulting in greater fiscal transparency and citizen trust, opening new opportunities for finance professionals in the public sector – in particular, public financial management.

In conclusion, there are limitless opportunities for professional accountants in Pakistan to make a great contribution and serve as a force for good in their community and national economy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Joseph Owolabi

The writer is President of ACCA, the global body for professional accountants

Comments

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KU Mar 01, 2023 02:28pm
There is no doubt that we produce some of the best professionals in finance and other fields, and opportunities exist, but the problem is organizational culture as well as salaries that ensure a decent living. Most of our bright minds look abroad for a better future and recognition in their professional fields, and they are accepted eagerly. Research in Organizational Development in our country suggests that private and public sector organizations are now infested with mediocre leadership, and these leaders not only ensure their position but also promote mediocre leaders in organizations. This results in damage to the organization over time, and ensure that competent leaders do not reach the helm of affairs.
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Amigo Mar 01, 2023 08:02pm
Where are the "Financial Genius" To help the nation come out from crises. Every talented and capable person is millionaire in our country. But country at default !!!!!
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Pakistani Mar 02, 2023 01:22pm
@Amigo, true. But there is a difference in corporate finance and handling a country's financial health. A regular chartered accountant is not just equipped enough to understand the huge array of economical factors. Granted, the added variables, just like financial gaming data, shouldn't be that much daunting. However, economists and mathematicians come in to a play here, that we as a nation don't have much. Plus obviously, letting go of political issues and other interests would go a long way.
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Farooq Aug 06, 2023 07:12pm
If you want to see the scope of ACCA in Pakistan.Just go at the "ACCA careers" you will find all the answers.
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