Challenges and Experiences
Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Donald Hislop and Christine Coupland
Chapter 10: Challenges facing the accounting profession: maintaining relevance in a changing environment
From the earliest recordings of commercial transactions on stone tablets to the sophisticated enterprise resource systems we see today, the accounting profession has responded to changes in its environment to ensure its continuing relevance, resilience and its attractiveness as a career. The 420000 professionally qualified accountants plus the 530000 students worldwide registered with UK professional accounting institutes suggests that the accounting profession has a future, but what will that future look like? The challenges facing the profession today arise from the four key emerging trends of globalization, corporate restructuring, sustainability and digitalization. All of these changes are occurring at a time when there is a general lack of trust in businesses and ever increasing pressures on businesses to perform in the short term. The UK professional accountancy bodies have recognized these challenges and have responded by developing strategic alliances, adopting differentiation strategies and adapting to market demands. In the following two sections, we elaborate on the key challenges identified in the business environment and the impact they are having on the work of the accounting profession. We then focus particularly on the effect that ‘accounting scandals’ have had in respect of trust in the profession, the regulatory framework and independent audit. Next, we discuss the professional qualification, and some key responses from professional accountancy bodies to the current challenges, before concluding as to the profession’s ability to maintain relevance in its changing environment.
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