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Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) have recently published an international caliber study on what makes the ‘perfect professional’ in 2016 and beyond. The research findings highlight the fact that an optimum blend of skills, experience, and intelligence is now needed by professional accountants.

The seven key skill areas sought by employers now and in the future are intellect, creativity, emotional intelligence, vision, experience, technical skills, and mastery of the digital world. The employers currently and in the future expect skills and abilities to perform activities consistently to a defined standard which are often based on a professional qualification. They also require an employee’s ability to acquire and use knowledge for an existing or new situation especially to explore potential outcomes, and generate new ideas.

With the awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices, strategies and culture, the employers look for digital competency in their future employees. But most importantly, the most sought after skill is the ability to predict future trends accurately through extrapolating existing trends and facts, and filling the gaps by thinking innovatively.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Helen Brand OBE, ACCA’s chief executive said:

‘Over the past decade, the traditional role of an accountant has evolved into skillful finance professionals who are leaders, trusted expert counsel, and key strategic advisers to organisations whether in the public or private sectors.

‘With this metamorphosis comes a requirement for a whole new set of skills. On top of technical excellence, professional accountants now require creativity, emotional intelligence and the vision to lead.’

With input and insight from over 2,000 business and finance professionals around the world, Professional accountants – the future is the most in depth analysis of the profession – and where it is headed – ever conducted says Helen Brand:

‘We discovered a brave new world of more regulation, greater globalisation, ever increasing risk, and of course, massive technological advancement. The accountancy profession has to be ahead of the curve on all fronts – trained to the highest of professional standards, looking beyond the numbers and with a global mind set.’

According to Helen Brand, her message to current and aspiring accountants is that a blend of all these attributes makes the perfect finance professional, ready for the global business challenges they will face:

‘These ‘magnificent seven’ strengths show the way ahead. They are the means by which accountants use their technical knowledge, skills and abilities blended with the interpersonal behaviours and qualities to put them to use.

‘Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. The key is to recognise where you excel and where you need to work to build your competency through the continuous professional development which professional accountants already know so well.’