Is the accounting profession ready for the future?

“I’m most grounded on the role of technology. Ultimately to me it’s about the human capital and the human potential and technology empowers humans to do great things. You have to be optimistic about what technology can do in the hands of humans.”Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Corp., USA

On March 6, Rebekah Brown of the Maryland Association of CPAs made a presentation before the joint meetings of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) and the International Auditing  and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) Consultative Advisory Groups (CAG) at the Association of the International Certified Professional Accountants conference room in New York.

Rebekah highlighted the hard trends that have affected the accounting profession and the fast speed of changes. Cited was the unprecedented impact of technology on the chain of processes in the accounting and auditing. She spelled out three important fundamentals to keep in mind:

  1. Be aware;
  2. With awareness, predict what could be the consequences; and
  3. Adapt.

After one-and-a-half hours of discussion and workshop, and reflecting on her presentation, I thought artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing have become increasingly smarter and simultaneously available to firms of all sizes. Paperless transactions translate to enormous digital data requiring data storage that should be kept with integrity intact and readily accessible. In no time, almost on time financial reporting would demand almost on time audit or third party opinion.

In the light of such developments, the following queries came to mind:

  1. Are professional accountants trained and have the skills to come up to expectations in a high-speed digital environment?
  2. In the midst of fast recording and big digital data storage, are appropriate standards of reporting, conduct of professional accountants, standards of responsive digital auditing and assurance available?
  3. What has to change in how standards are set in a time of exponential change?

This is the global scene and the Philippine scenario is not too far behind. To a retired professional accountant now serving in the CAG for IESBA and IAASB, there appears to be a huge gap between what was learned in school, adapted in the practice of the profession and what have quickly evolved in the most recent past vis à vis what may soon to be in place. One can only ask, Is the accounting profession ready for the future?

Don’t miss W2W Talk presented by Womens Business Council on March 22 at Fairmont Hotel:

“Fathers for Daughters Building Next Gen Business Mindsets”


Dr. Conchita L. Manabat is the president of the Development Center for Finance, a joint undertaking between Finex Foundation and the UP Virata School of Business. A past President of Finex and past chairman of the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes, she is now the chairman of the Advisory Council of the said organization.

She is also a member of the Consultative Advisory Groups of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board and the International Ethics Standards Board for
Accountants. She can be reached at


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