Aleema Ogeer-Ali, COO and Malcolm Mackenzie, Finance Analyst at Aegis Business Solutions share their insights from ICATT’s Annual International Finance and Accounting Conference held last, November at Hyatt Regency. The theme, ‘Driving Sustainability, Reinforcing Trust’ led to a big reflection on leadership and how as accountants and business owners, we are evolving our own leadership mindset to ensure success.
We have all adjusted to the new economic conditions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic whilst maintaining compliance and accountability. With the new hybrid way of working, leaders have to continue to be flexible and proactive in order to ensure that these changes are properly implemented in an efficient manner and that professionalism is maintained.
Ogeer-Ali advised that leaders should not have a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to managing people. As accounting professionals, it isn’t just about number crunching now, we have to find innovative ways of continuously coaching and mentoring professionals, especially in our own industry.”
“You have to adapt your mentality by staying agile and managing staff in a way that is able to produce the desired results. Performance management, therefore, plays a huge part in dealing with the changing workforce, if an employee understands their role and the manager shares their expectations and trains the team, employees will perform. Communication and check-ins is therefore key. In this way gaps can be addressed pro-actively ” She further added
MacKenzie added, “Trust and professional conduct continue to be a cornerstone of working and being dynamic in your organisation as we are now working in a hybrid work environment. Long ago, you managed staff by having them all in a room and you sat down at a desk. Now we can work with teams across the country, and across the world. You have hired that person expecting a high level of professionalism because you don’t have that constant contact with them. Training is going to be paramount to ensure competency in the requisite areas.”
The Analytical Mindset
With changes in the new way of working coupled with technology, another key area was the evolution of the Accountant. Ogeer-Ali summarised, “We can light-heartedly say that Accounting has come a long way if we think about those manual ledger books we used to use and then it evolved into lotus 123, then further evolved into accounting systems and now we have the emergence of AI. You now have information at your fingertips now .” Ogeer-Ali added, “Today, as accountants, we are increasingly involved in direct interactions with clients, decision making and strategy management. We can understand where your business is headed with forward forecasts in real time using various tools . You need to keep your eyes on what’s happening – productivity ratios, accounting standards and emerging technologies.”
“Where we’re going to add value as Accountants is not tallying numbers. It’s understanding what the numbers are telling us and being able to pivot off of that using the technologies to help take our business forward in a smart economical way,” Malcolm added. Business owners and accountants need to continue to take advantage of technology and strengthen their analytical skills and reporting
Bridging the Generational Gap
To add to this, we are working with a new generation of accountants (Generation Z) and we discussed how employers should pause and review their business model. It is important to understand the value this generation brings to the organisation, as well as how we can integrate their needs into our current framework.
Ogeer-Ali explained, “Unlike the earlier generations like baby boomers – millennials and the Gen Zs are not necessarily motivated by money. They need money, but they’re not entirely motivated by the paycheck. Ideally, they would like to work for an organisation with a just cause, where they can understand the role, they play and the value they add. Ironically Covid-19 and the transition to a hybrid workforce structure sort of created the workplace where millennials and Gen Zs survived and thrived.”
“Gen Zs are the most tech-savvy generation and they are used to having access to information, and data and tools at their fingertips. This has resulted in a generation of workers that are highly adept at problem-solving and working efficiently.” Business owners need to tap into this skill.
Gen Zs also bring with them an increased focus on flexibility and usability. They are looking for a workplace that is more adaptable to their lifestyle and will use technology to communicate, collaborate and work productively. This disrupts the traditional way businesses operate particularly in the Caribbean. Business owners must continue to seek ways to bridge this gap and foster better communication, understanding and collaboration between the generations. In this way the business and its employees continue to develop and succeed together.
The implementation of the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 17
On the technical side, one hot topic at the conference was IFRS 17. The implementation of the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 17 has been a long-awaited change in the way insurance companies are required to report their financial information. “What the IFRS 17 does is it makes the insurer take into account, not just what exists today, but what will exist in the future,” says MacKenzie. Read more of Malcolm’s review here