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Adapting for long term success


GORD BEAL

Adapting for long term success

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TIGHTENING TRADE BORDERS, the end of high oil prices, slow economic growth, climate change, the Internet of Things, big data, cyber threats, an aging population, and global geopolitical unrest.

Welcome to the 21st century, where the only constant is change.

Being able to adapt in today’s rapidly changing world is critical to an organisation’s success. Today’s change makers – organisations who evolve and innovate in order to turn current challenges into opportunities – understand that the past is not a good predictor of the future.

Last year, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) published an article in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean’s newsletter titled Driving The Future Of The Accounting Profession: Looking Through The Windshield, Not The Rear-View Mirror. The article looked ahead to the year 2030 and identified key challenges and opportunities for the Canadian and global business community.

The article was the result of CPA Canada’s outreach with leaders in the profession, business, government and academia across Canada to gain their perspective on how organisations can better prepare for the future. We wanted to understand the implications for their organisations in key areas driving change: economic, environmental, technological, societal, and geopolitical.

Having this information upfront is helping CPA Canada define the skills and competencies necessary for CPAs to continue to be highly valued and successful. 

What became apparent is the critical role CPAs can play in helping to create adaptive and resilient organisations.

The past few decades have witnessed significant growth on the demands and expectations of finance leaders; particularly as they have become central to helping their organisations meet the challenges of a rapidly changing global economy.

What then, might the CPA of the future look like? What skills and competencies does an effective professional accountant in management need?

An article in the July/August 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review titled Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage, suggests to become more adaptive and resilient, organisations need to develop the ability to read and act on signals of change; experiment rapidly and frequently, manage complex and interconnected systems of multiple stakeholders; and motivate employees. This article is even more relevant today.

CPAs are in a unique position to adapt and support organisations in this rapidly changing world. The discipline, integrity, and critical thinking that define the profession are the very traits necessary to lead transformational change initiatives that will result in resilient, adaptive, innovative, and sustainable enterprises, a framework that will be explored in future CPA Canada resources.

The CPA of the future will need: adaptability and a curious mind (for example, innovation and continuous learning)/increased focus on business resilience and sustainability; emphasis on professional skepticism, ethics and judgement; processes for measuring and reporting on a more holistic and integrated view of performance; knowledge of information technology; cyber security and new technology trends; and interpretation and analysis of larger volumes of information.

Although it has always been an important element of any organisation, performance management (PM) is an important growth area for CPAs as business pressures continue to increase.

PM improves strategic decision-making, and helps CPAs stay competitive, and manage and mitigate risk. Organisations that prioritise PM, and create and fine-tune appropriate feedback mechanisms to monitor performance and respond effectively, are better equipped to achieve their goals and have more sustainable long-term financial success.

CPA Canada’s Certificate in Driving Organisational Profit and Performance is a good start for CPAs who want to develop a stronger knowledge base in performance management.

CPA Canada’s interest in developing tools and resources for professional accountants in management is longstanding. We recognise that organisations that embrace change and prepare themselves for the future have the greatest chance of long-term success and sustainable value creation. And we are committed to providing our members with guidance and resources to help their organisations manage the risks and capitalise on the opportunities that change presents.

Gord Beal is vice-president, research, guidance and support at Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

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