AICPA chair identifies areas of focus

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has appointed Anoop Natwar Mehta as its chair. He will also serve as chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, which represents both AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Mehta, who currently serves as chief strategist of the aerospace firm Analytical Mechanical Associates (AMA), was elected to the one-year AICPA volunteer post by the organisations governing council.

Along with Mehta’s appointment, Okorie Ramsey, was voted in as the AICPA’s vice chair. Ramsey currently serves as vice president of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.

Mehta set out three areas of focus:

  1. Helping others to grow professionally and personally. The profession must adopt a people-first approach that encourages mutual support, lifelong learning and personal development. “People should be at the centre of our practices and decisions, large and small, the chief focus for where we want the profession to go,” he said.
  2. Diversifying the pipeline of new accountants. Projects such as CPA Evolution, a new model for licensure, and new apprenticeships for CGMA candidates, will help. But the profession also must set and track progress toward DEI goals to ensure accountability, he said. He vowed to visit as many high schools and colleges as he can during his tenure to talk up the profession.
  3. Preserving trust in the profession. Mehta cited the profession’s recent role in economic recovery and business relief, and described how that’s built trust with clients and the public.

Mehta served for the past year as the AICPA’s vice chair and has held several other volunteer posts, including roles as a member of the AICPA Board of Directors, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants Board of Directors, the AICPA Business and Industry Executive Committee, the AICPA Political Action Committee and AICPA Council.

UKEB adopts first major standard

The UK Endorsement Board (UKEB) has approved the adoption of the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts for use by UK companies, the first major standard UKEB has adopted since it received delegated powers from the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

UKEB chair Pauline Wallace said: “The UKEB has carefully considered the statutory criteria for adopting new IFRS for use in the UK and is satisfied that IFRS 17 meets them all. Overall, the UKEB considers that the adoption of IFRS 17 will lead to substantial improvements in financial reporting for insurance contracts and that its application will be conducive to the long term public good in the UK.

“The adoption of IFRS 17 marks a major milestone in the work of the UKEB during its first year of operation. I am grateful for the extensive and constructive engagement from UK stakeholders during the consultation process, the detailed analysis carried out by the UKEB staff, and the thorough consideration given by board members to each of the statutory criteria.

“The UKEB looks forward to continuing to engage with UK stakeholders during the implementation and initial application of the Standard.”

IFRS 17 is effective for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2023, with early application permitted for entities that apply IFRS 9 Financial Instruments on or before the date of initial application of IFRS 17.

Commerce and Industry accountant hiring at record levels

Recruitment for accountants across commerce and industry (C&I) in England and Wales has continued growing after a record 2021, according to research from global recruiters Morgan McKinley and data analysts Vacancysoft.

Hiring levels for C&I accountants in 2021 finished with growth of 68% year-on-year, and an uplift of 22% in relation to pre-pandemic levels.

Technology and telecoms firms overtook retailers as the busiest hirers, publishing a combined 4,000 new jobs in 2021 representing a rise of 102% year-on-year.

Morgan McKinley operations director Darren Burns said: “The commerce industry remains in high demand for attracting talent with candidates having multiple offers across a wide span of industries. This makes it increasingly challenging for companies to secure the candidate they are offered. Candidates are looking for finance leaders who have created accounting departments to be more strategic and innovative and drawn to companies where finance teams are not just spending their time on manual, tedious processes, particularly since there are now many platforms that eliminate the need to perform routine, monthly tasks. There’s been a real shift in working habits, technology adoption and employee expectations and it has to be a priority for CFOs to work hard to engage their workforce.”

“It’s never been more important to offer support and career progression. Within the commerce landscape, 15% of the finance population have moved within the last 12 months with candidates seeking a change within 2.5 years. It’s never been so important to invest in people and technology to keep the job interesting as there are plenty of other options available. Attrition is as high as 31% in some larger organisations as employees focus more on their job satisfaction and not just pay. Candidates are taking advantage of the rapidly loosening UK labour market, and this will continue well into 2022.”

ICAS appoints president

The Institute of Chartered Accounts of Scotland (ICAS) has appointed Indy Singh Hothi as its president at the ICAS Annual General Meeting on 29 April.

Supporting Sing Hothi in his role as president are Clive Bellingham CA, who has been appointed deputy president of ICAS, and Alison Cornwell CA, who has been appointed vice president of ICAS.

Commenting on his appointment, Sing Hothi said: “I’m thrilled to be able to build upon my years as an ICAS Office Bearer by taking up the role of ICAS President. I look forward to representing CAs as President of ICAS for the coming year, and working together with Members and the Office Bearer team to safeguard the sustainable future of the profession and maintain the power of accountancy as a force for good.”

Indy takes over from Bruce Pritchard CA, chief executive officer – International of Liminal BioSciences, and will serve a year in office.

Accountancy stakeholders call for innovation in L&D 

Educators are not fully meeting the needs of learners or employers when it comes to professional education for accountants and finance professionals, according to research from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

The report, Developing the skills of the sustainable business and finance professional, found that, while educators recognise the need to put learners’ characteristics and needs central to the design of a good learning and development programme, they struggle to reflect them in their programmes, with 39% saying the characteristics of their learners are too diverse for common principles to be included.

ACCA head of business development and author of the report Sharon Machado said: “The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2030, 90% of jobs will demand digital skills. So educators need to make data and digital central to their L&D programmes. Alongside this, Pearson has estimated that the total market for professional education is expected to grow to £7 trillion by 2030, again reflecting that demand will increase.”

As part of this research, ACCA asked learners and educators to identify the features of a good L&D system, resulting in six clear and interconnected themes:

  • Relevance: meeting learner and stakeholder needs
  • Reliability: delivering learning outcomes that are trusted irrespective of different learning approaches for a given capability or learner
  • Motivation: driving the achievement of the learning purpose and supporting lifelong learning
  • Person and people: placing learners and their tutors at the heart of learning and the learning approach, at an individual, cohort and community level
  • Digital and data: supporting the development of L&D strategy and its implementation across content, production, delivery and monitoring
  • Sustainability: business models employ an integrated approach to environmental, social and financial matters

Machado added: “Learners should be seeking these six features and qualities in their L&D, and equally educators should be applying them too in developing, implementing, and monitoring their strategies. If educators do, they’ll be well placed to realise the economic opportunities associated with a growing education market and to respond to the vast amounts of regulation that applies to them and the accountancy profession.”

The full report can be read here.

SMEs downgrade ESG action as a priority

Almost three quarters (71%) of SMEs are not currently taking action to reduce their carbon emissions, as digitalisation, employee wellbeing, cost inflation, and recruitment take priority, according to Azets spring 2022 SME Barometer.

While Azets’ report found ESG is on most company radars, specific action lacks urgency, as focus lies on people, technology, and cost amid economic turbulence.

Over half of SMEs agree they have a good understanding of what ESG means (57%) and have the skills and competencies in the business to address it (52%).

However, 53% do not think ESG will have a big impact on their business in the next two years.

On reducing carbon emissions specifically, 71% are not currently acting and 85% are not currently measuring the carbon footprint of their business.

Meanwhile, over half (54%) of SMEs say they will increase digitalisation in the year ahead, whilst employee wellbeing has risen to be SMEs’ second highest priority, after securing their financial health.

Cost inflation and recruitment are SMEs’ biggest day-to-day challenges, with knock-on effects on cash flow and the time spent on administrative work.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of SMEs are struggling to recruit talent with the right skills.

Azets head of growth Donald Boyd said: “The SME Barometer shows that many businesses want to focus on ESG and sustainability to a far greater extent than before. For some SMEs rooted in their local community, ESG appears as common sense. For others it poses challenges in terms of cost and the expertise and resources required to implement it. Given current pressures on SMEs, a basic challenge can simply be finding the time to bring ESG to the fore when there are more pressing matters to deal with.

“However, ESG represents a great potential and opportunity for SMEs. With legislation coming down the track for EU SMEs on sustainable products, and funding likely to be harder to come by as banks increasingly look at sustainability and ESG policies as a condition of lending, ESG is set to become an increasingly important theme. Businesses should be thinking ahead and taking specialist advice.”