Group of professionals watching presentation at October Foresight round table

From embracing AI to tackling climate change, here are some of the key takeaways from October’s CPA Canada Foresight: Reimagining the Profession round tables, which featured presentations on subjects ranging from the evolution of payment systems to generational differences. (Image provided)

Accounting | The Profession

CPA Canada Foresight: Have your say

CPA Canada’s innovative project to shape the future of accounting is entering a critical phase. Join the conversation on our digital forum and help us reimagine—together—what that future might look like.

A Facebook IconFacebook A Twitter IconTwitter A Linkedin IconLinkedin An Email IconEmail

“Plan exponentially. Befriend your threats. Pursue unholy alliances. Take the moonshot.” It’s with these inspirational thoughts that Dr. Sonny Kohli, a practising physician in internal medicine and critical care and co-founder of CloudDX, concluded his speech to a rapt audience at the second set of round tables for CPA Canada Foresight: Reimagining the Profession, October 15 to 17, 2018, in Toronto.

Dr. Kohli’s speech came at a perfect time for the participants, who had gathered to share their ideas on how technology and other drivers of change might impact the future of the accounting profession and the businesses accountants support. With the Foresight project gaining momentum, they were able to use his inspiration to spur discussion and to start developing scenarios to explore potential ways the world might unfold and what challenges and opportunities this may create for the profession.

Scenario construction is a key aspect of this innovative project, which combines in-person round tables with an open conversation on a digital forum. Throughout the process, which runs until early 2019, members and other stakeholders, including investors, regulators, members of the business community and students, are encouraged to get involved and join the conversation.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the October round tables, which featured presentations on subjects ranging from the evolution of payment systems to generational differences. 

Make friends with automation

Dr. Kohli, a tech enthusiast who is intrigued by space-age and digital solutions to the world’s health problems, reinforced the message to embrace AI. He shared an award-winning device he helped create that can take vital signs, including oxygen levels, in a matter of seconds. This “digital doctor” could be used for routine diagnoses, thereby reducing waiting times in doctors’ offices. “Technology like this might scare you, but it can also enable you,” he said. 

Take stock of intangibles

Jon Lukomnic, executive director of the IRRC Institute and author of What They Do With Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us and How To Fix It, wants the profession to move beyond traditional financial statements, which do not account for “many of the things that investors value.” Among other tips, he advised that an industry-wide effort be made on how to account for intangible assets and how to standardize ESG ventures. “Yes, the profession faces an existential crisis,” he said. “But there are lots of opportunities.”   

Embrace the environment 

Tackling climate change has never been more urgent and it’s time for the profession to develop ways of standardizing how to measure the impact on business, says Céline Bak, president of Analytica Advisors. “The time for why has come and gone. It’s about the how. There are companies that are trying to reduce carbon emissions. The profession should come up with some sort of standardization.”

Rethink how other generations think

Are Millennials really that different from other generations? Not according to Philip Hunter, senior consultant, talent management, Verity International Limited. Citing a meta-analysis of 20 top studies, he noted that differences between boomers and millennials—where they exist—are small. However, the workplace is changing; we are moving from hierarchies and formal structures to networks of agile and collaborative teams, from advancement based on tenure to advancement based on skills.

Add your voice to the discussion and ensure your feedback is heard now.

And, stay tuned at the end of November, when a series of videos depicting possible scenarios for the profession’s future will be produced, taking input from the online forum into account. These videos will be posted online, giving members and stakeholders from the wider business community a chance to share their views.