The final day focused on the accountant’s future, technology and the next generation, writes Vanessa Lim.
Accountants have been told to be successful in the future, they will need to embrace teamwork, communication, leadership and their soft skills.
In the final keynote of the conference, LinkedIn Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Matt Tindale presented data that showed the skills necessary for accountants to thrive in the modern world.
Kellie Hamilton, WCOA Executive Committee Member from CPA Australia, explained accountants were encouraged to take this knowledge back to excel in their profession.
“It’s really about our delegates thinking about what it means for them and what they want to be able to do to actually be the change and drive the profession forward,” Hamilton said.
“What we’re starting to see now is that technological and software skills are starting to increase in terms of interest levels and requirements from employers. There’s also evidence that those who demonstrate soft skills on their profile are hired quicker than anyone else.”
Technology of the future was on display with a virtual reality (VR) experience produced by CPA in the Exhibition Hall.
“The VR experience will enable us to better prepare for the future of learning and the future of the finance profession,” said CPA Corporate Learning Solutions Consultant Richard Callender-Reid.
“I think having some familiarity is out there and getting used to a virtual experience will definitely enable them to do more [for the finance profession].”
With new technologies, however, come new threats – including cyber crime.
Enlightening the audience on the issues was former hacker turned security expert Keren Elazari. “Criminals are continually updating their game, changing what they do to make you download malicious content,” she said.
Elazari encouraged action with practical ideas to minimise the threat of cyber attacks.
She also appeared in the keynote session, “Global Risks and future shocks”, alongside former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Group Chief Risk Officer for Zurich Insurance Group Alison Martin, and former Greece finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. Moderated by television interviewer Tony Jones, the panel discussed accountancy’s global role from cyber warfare to global warming.
“Everyone here needs to make their community leaders accountable,” Ki-Moon said. “You’re all accountants; you need to make them accountable.”
Embracing the evolving role of finance professionals and the future generation was the Generation Next program run by Olwyn Connolly, Leader of Engagement and Innovation at Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand. The program aims to open the perspective of accountants starting their careers.
“We thought long and hard how to best give them content that we hope would really make a difference with how they look at professional accountants and where their careers can go,” Connolly said.
Generation Next delegates attended sessions such as “Young Accountants Changing The World”. That session featured young accountants such as Shelley Cable, who advocated the importance of indigenous empowerment in the finance sector.
“What’s very close to my heart is increasing the numbers of indigenous accountants,” she said. “There’s too much at stake not to dedicate my entire life to it, so I’m glad to see so many aspiring Indigenous accountants in the audience today.
“Who would have thought that accounting had the potential to protect human rights?”
WCOA delegates did their part by offering gold-coin donations for the Gunawirra charity at the book cafe coffee cart. The charity focuses on indigenous welfare and keeping the Aboriginal culture alive, and had been teaching delegates about indigenous culture during the week at WCOA.
By the end of the conference, they had raised $1220.65. It was yet another promising move towards the future.