Speaking at a recent CPA Australia conference, CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley said changes in regulation and advancements in technology are a threat to the existence of the accounting profession.
“The politics that is impacting on regulations is quite profound. Every time a politician of any persuasion gets up and says they’re going to protect the world from everything, all the time, it puts more and more pressure on the regulator,” said Mr Malley.
“It’s important that our voice becomes stronger and stronger in the public eye, so we can ensure there are some sensibilities in what you inherit.”
Mr Malley also said the empowerment of the individual through technology and the ability for young people to access information quickly means there is a “lack of need, unless well-presented, for professions to even exist”.
“Professions have been this unique, exclusive club of qualified people, but of course as technology opens up information and content, people can quickly circumvent that sort of professional need.”
At the same time, Mr Malley said the financial services sector has expanded in the past 20 years beyond degree-holding professionals.
“[It was around] then that others came into the profession, into the financial planning area, and as a result, that brought other people into the advice market,” he said.
“[Recently] I referred to the financial services sector these days being the largest circus tent in town.
“[ASIC commissioner] Greg Tanzer mentioned [at the CPA National SMSF Conference] some of those people that we’d hate to think of as part of our financial services sector given their behaviours, but effectively the financial services sector is defined today as anyone who’s an agent for insurance at one end and the quadruple degree at CPA at the other, and we’re all under this banner of financial services advice.”
The accounting profession, he said, must take leadership in this area – “what we call reclaiming our territory”.
“We are in the process of producing content that’s going to allow people to come through various pathways, [so that we] can hold the profession together and stay in front. We do need to build the next generation’s interest in our profession and advice,” he said.
“From next year, we are very keen to go to universities and start targeting kids that are studying financial planning, as well as those who study accounting, and having pathways for both of them to become members of CPA Australia through the appropriate studies, processes and content, so that we reclaim the territory that we once owned.”
Mr Malley said it was about “building a brand of young people” who will come in and hopefully buy existing accounting practices for “exuberant prices in later years because they’ve become part of the profession”.