A1 decoded-accountants and policy makers can benefit from ongoing work

Karachi (Cliff News)ACCA’s (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) latest report Explainable AI addresses explainability from the perspective of practitioners, i.e. accountancy and finance professionals. Head of Business Insights, Narayanan Vaidyanathan, said: ‘It is in the public interest to improve understanding of XAI, which helps to balance the protection of the consumer with innovation in the marketplace.’Complexity, speed and volume of AI decision-making often obscure what is going on in the background (the black box), which makes the model difficult to interrogate.  Explainability, or the lack of this, affects the ability of professional accountants to understand and display scepticism. In a recent ACCA survey, more than double, 54%, agreed with this statement compared to those who didn’t.Vaidyanathan continued: ‘It’s an area that’s relevant to being able to trust technology and to be confident that it’s used ethically and XAI can help in this scenario.  It’s helpful to think of it as a design principle as much as a set of tools. Moreover, this is AI decoded, and designed to augment the human ability to understand and interrogate the results returned by the model.’

Key messages for practitioners:

  • Maintain awareness of evolving trends in AI: 51% of respondents were unaware of XAI.  This impairs the ability to engage. The report sets out some of the key developments in this emerging area to help raise awareness.  
  • Beware of oversimplified narratives: In accountancy, AI isn’t fully autonomous, but nor is it a complete fantasy. The middle path of augmenting, as opposed to replacing, the human works best when the human understands what the AI is doing; which needs explainability. 
  • Embed explainability into enterprise adoption:  Consider the level of explainability needed, and how it can help with model performance, ethical use and legal compliance. 

Policy makers, for instance in government or at regulators, frequently hear the developer/supplier perspective from the AI industry. This report can complement that with a view from the user/demand side, so that policy can incorporate consumer needs.  

The report’s key messages for policy makers are:

  • Explainability empowers consumers and regulators: improved explainability reduces the deep asymmetry between experts who understand AI and the wider public. And for regulators, it can help reduce systemic risk if there is a better understanding of factors influencing algorithms that are being increasingly deployed across the marketplace. 
  • Emphasise explainability as a design principle: An environment that balances innovation and regulation can be achieved by supporting industry to continue, indeed redouble, its efforts to include explainability as a core feature in product development.

 

Narayanan Vaidyanathan added: ‘XAI can be polarising, with some having unrealistic expectations for it to be like magic and answer all questions. While others are deeply suspicious of what the algorithm is doing in the background. XAI seeks to bridge this gap, by improving understanding to manage unrealistic expectations, and to give a level of comfort and clarity to the doubters.’

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally. 

 

 

 

ACCA promotes KP as a gateway to economic prosperity

ACCA - Picture Release

Karachi(Cliff News)ACCA(the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) hosted a high-profile corporate networking conference in Peshawar on the theme ‘KP: Pakistan’s gateway to economic prosperity’ providing a platform to region’s key stakeholders and thought leaders to engage in interdisciplinary, forward thinking conversations and encouraging collaborative action by proposing a common agenda aimed at revitalising the private sector to kick start an era of sustainable, inclusive economic growth in the province.Taimur Jhagra, Minister for Finance, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Hassan Daud Butt, CEO, KP Board of Investment & Trade, Mujahid Saleem, Advisor on Economic Growth, USAID, and Assad Hameed Khan, Market Head, ACCA were among the keynote speakers who shared their insights and proposed tips for organisations to become future-ready.“It’s a source of pride to see the city opening up again and providing a platform for thought leaders to engage in meaningful conversations. The province is a large consumer market and offers exciting opportunities for investors. We strongly believe that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is our country’s gateway to economic prosperity.” – Taimur Jhagra.Commenting on the theme of the conference, Director of National Incubation Centre (NIC) Peshawar, Faisal Jamil said, “Around 60pc of all the investments and funding raised by the start-ups at NIC Peshawar have been raised by women-led start-ups. The key takeaway from the conference is that the stakeholders of this region need to focus more on inclusivity and sustainability to drive the business forward.”Recognising the aggregated impact of the conference, Mujahid Saleem said, “Today’s event will go a long way in chalking out a clear path forward to promote sustainable economic development in this region. We look forward to working with ACCA on similar initiatives in the future for the benefit of this region.”From robotics and cloud to AI and block chain, digital is arguably the biggest factor shaping the future of business around the world. At the conference, ACCA shared insights, practical guidance, strategies, and solutions to enable businesses and policy makers to embrace these new technologies and create a conducive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.“The conference offered great insights into developing future-ready talent and preparing the youth of our country for the challenges ahead.” – Dr Sahibzada Ali Mahmud, Chief Strategy & Information Officer, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC).One of the event highlights was a future-focused panel conversation on the topic ‘Digital transformation and economic growth – journey towards sustainable development’. The conversation leaders for the segment included, Dr Mohsin Khan, Director, Institute of Management Sciences, Shafique Ur Rehman, CEO, Rehman Medical Institute, Dr Shahbaz Khan, Managing Director, KP IT Board, Dr Sahibzada Ali Mahmud, Chief Strategy & Information Officer, KPEZDMC, Syed Asmat Ullah FCCA, Executive Director Audit & Assurance, Deloitte and Arif Masud Mirza FCCA, Regional Head of Policy, ACCA.To emphasise on the importance of inclusivity and to discuss the changing nature of work, and evolving business models, the conference also hosted a thought-provoking panel conversation on the theme ‘Building an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem’, with contributions from Hassan Daud Butt, CEO, KP Board of Investment & Trade, Usman Zulfiqar, Academia Head SKANS School of Accountancy Peshawar, Ihsan Ullah Ihsan, Managing Director, The Bank of Khyber, Mubarak Ali Senior Faculty Member Professionals Academy of Commerce Peshawar, Faisal Jamil, Executive Vice President, LMKT and Maryam Arshad, CEO, Impact Dynamics.“We believe healthy and prosperous economies are ones that build equitable and thriving societies. In Pakistan, ACCA will continue to play its role in building a healthy and prosperous economy where people of all backgrounds are able to flourish and there’s an open access to opportunity.” – Assad Hameed Khan, Market Head, ACCA.Bank Islami Pvt Ltd. joined ACCA as an exclusive Strategic Partner. The Bank of Khyber, DHA Peshawar, and Rehman Medical Institute were the Platinum Partners, and Professionals’ Academy of Commerce (PAC), and SKANS School of Accountancy joined as Gold Partners.The conference was also supported by SECP’s Jama Punji, IM Sciences, IM Durshal, Deloitte, SMEDA, KP Information Technology Board, Pakistan Stock Exchange, KPRA, KPCCI, WCCI and KPEZDMC. Nutshell Conferences powered the conference as a Knowledge Partner.With more than 219,000 fully qualified members and 527,000 students worldwide, ACCA is the world’s leading body for professional accountants which uses its unrivalled connections across the world to connect people with fulfilling careers, organisations with the best finance talent, and economies with the ingredients for growth. With strong partnerships with top employers and social sector across the globe and an award-winning Professional Insights programme offering ground-breaking futures insight, ACCA is at the forefront of finance talent development and creating future-proof careers. 

 

About ACCA:

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.ACCA supports its 208,000 members and 503,000 students in 178 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 104 offices and centres and more than 7,300 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability.

60% of SMEs globally not supported to tackle bribery and corruption

Karachi(Cliff News)A new global survey by ACCA has revealed 60% believe there is insufficient guidance for SMEs to combat bribery and corruption.The research, commissioned by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), has highlighted that of 932 cross-sector accountants surveyed, fewer than one in three believe there is enough support for small businesses to tackle bribery and corruption.In the professional accountancy body’s report Combating bribery in the SME sector, respondents outlined fears that procedures and policies and risk assessments are not always in place to help management and the employees.The survey showed how SMEs value practising accountants for their all-round business support services, but that there is still a pressing need for collaborative work with governments around the world, inter-governmental departments and other stakeholders.‘Bribery and corruption is not only a concern for SMEs. It is a concern for our society as a whole which continuously erodes ethical values and norms. The long-term harm done to the whole economy is recognised by many in the business world in Pakistan, and the official government messages that bribery and corruption must not be tolerated should be repeated loud and often. But practically supporting SMEs in Pakistan to tackle bribery and corruption should be the first step.’ – Sajjeed Aslam, head of ACCA Pakistan.Jason Piper, global policy lead for Business Law at ACCA, highlighted the challenges that SMEs face in understanding the legal requirements in connection with bribery and corruption.Mr Piper pinpointed SMEs globally are overwhelmingly seeing bribery and corruption as having a negative impact on the business environment.He said: ‘The findings from this survey are conclusive and show businesses are desperately searching for that much-needed support.Globally, 62% of survey respondents believe SMEs that demonstrate strong anti-bribery credentials will be more likely to be able to trade with large businesses and public bodies. This reflects that fact that global enterprises are increasingly concerned about their supply chain exposure to a range of risks associated with CSR, including bribery and corruption issues.‘Compared with our survey findings from six years ago, small businesses believe there is even less guidance on combating bribery and corruption. We found that employees negotiating on behalf of companies need awareness courses on what constitutes bribery – and more important how to deal with this.Crucially, anti-bribery guidance for SMEs needs to be short and accessible. This is something most of our members questioned do not believe to be the case.’Mr Piper concluded that whilst the accountancy profession has been working to support small businesses, collaborative work with governments around the world, inter-governmental departments and other stakeholders must continue to progress.He said: ‘ACCA will continue to work with the stakeholders with the objective of more resources being made available. Governments need to ensure whistle-blowers remain protected – through developing additional guidance or improving awareness of what already exists in this area.’

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.ACCA supports its 208,000 members and 503,000 students in 178 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 104 offices and centres and more than 7,300 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability.

 

 

The next generation of China’s corporate global giants

Karachi(Cliff News)ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has identified the 100 fastest-growing Chinese businesses emerging as global corporations – based on analyses of historical performance and their potential for future growth.Together with the Shenzhen Finance Institute, ACCA has conducted in-depth research of nearly 3,000 private enterprises listed in China and overseas.The research stems from 11 specially designed diverse indicators, with five of these measuring the companies’ historical performance and six predicting their future growth. These factors include the company’s size, growth, profitability, innovativeness, level of internationalisation, and media coverage.Sajjeed Aslam, head of ACCA Pakistan says: ‘ACCA has been monitoring China’s rising corporates and businesses, with an original report in 2014, followed by further analysis in 2016. What’s clear across all reports is the aspiration to go global, with many Chinese firms already doing so. This most recent report indicates that many of these businesses will become China’s next generation of global corporations over the next few years if they continue on their current trajectories. Businesses in Pakistan need to learn from these examples of accelerated business growth and should explore opportunities to build partnerships with them to jumpstart their own global expansion.’

Key findings include:

Internet: More high-tech enterprises have evolved into the leaders of China’s future economic growth. Among the Top 100 companies, 42 companies are engaged in the computer and internet-related sectors. Since the 2016 ranking, the number of internet enterprises has increased by 50%.

Diversity: China’s future giants represent a fairly diverse range of industries. Those listed overseas tend to be involved in the internet, software development and other related sectors. The seven companies which are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) are in the manufacturing, medicine and internet sectors.

Highest performers: The companies with the best overall rankings had better scores than other companies for corporate scale, growth, cash flow, overseas strategy and media coverage.

Common features: Despite not being widely-known internationally, the top-ranked enterprises have had a relatively rapid growth and support innovative development with a long-term vision and international strategy, enjoying positive media coverage and having a strong focus on R&D.The report also profiles three companies as case studies:

1)    Sunway Communication started out as a supplier of mobile device antennas in 2006 and is now a big player among global suppliers, with its focus on maintaining an technological edge, achieving organic growth, pursuit of long-term goals and grasping the best moment to become involved in the new technologies.

2)    Autohome Inc began life as a traditional media company in 2005 and is undergoing a successful evolution into the world’s most-visited car website. Even with the decline in growth and fierce competition in China’s current automobile market, Autohome was able to outperform its benchmark and recorded a 39% year-on-year growth in net profit.

3)    Aier Eye Hospital is a leader in ophthalmology with significant growth, offering various types of diagnosis and treatment, surgery and optometry services, with a network spread across mainland China, Hong Kong SAR of China, Europe and the US. The chain has treated almost 6 million patients in over 560,000 surgeries. Among all the companies ranked earnings Aier Eye Hospital achieved the highest scores in earnings quality and cash flow among all the companies ranked.To increase understanding of the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, ACCA is actively collaborating with a range of strategic partners, working together to explore and define the opportunities and challenges facing countries and businesses along the routes, with special focus on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).ACCA publishes a wide range of Belt and Road focused research and insights to support its members who are already working and supporting BRI projects.

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.ACCA supports its 208,000 members and 503,000 students in 178 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 104 offices and centres and more than 7,300 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountabilities.

 

 

Berger Paints attains ACCA approved employer status

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Karachi(Cliff News)Berger Paints has become the most recent addition to the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Approved Employer Programme. With this partnership both the organisations will work together for promoting business ethics, professionalism and developing talent for the future. This milestone also reflects company’s commitment to tax compliance and transparency, as well as improvements in its governance and vision. Berger paints will now gain access to the future-ready finance talent with the right blend of skills developed by ACCA to cater to the businesses’ need to thrive in a digital world. It will also enjoy exclusive access to specialised services and knowledge through ACCA’s various products, specifically customised for approved employers in Pakistan.Talking on the occasion, Sajjeed Aslam – Head of ACCA Pakistan said “Staying relevant to the market is very important in an economy like Pakistan. ACCA believes in continuous development and it would support Berger capacity building of its employees through professional insights.”Abdul Wahid Quershi – CFO Berger Paints, mentioned the need for the government to streamline its policies to facilitate production by creating an equal playing field for big and small manufacturers. Berger also believes that its success lies in its commitment towards its human resource. Building capacity and preparing your team for the future is key to any organization’s success.ACCA is the global body for professional accountants, and aims to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world, who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. The ACCA Approved Employer programme recognises and rewards employers’ quality staff training and development. The programme ensures the highest standards for employers and students are met and maintained.

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and more than 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development.Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com

 

Adoption of machine learning needs based on legitimate business

Karachi(Cliff News)In Pakistan, 31 per cent of accountants currently see AI as all or mostly hype, while 65 per cent say that in three years’ time it will become a reality, according to global research.The findings are published in a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Machine learning: more science than fiction which highlights how new tech developments have a massive potential for the accountancy profession. The report focuses on machine learning, which is the ability of computers to ‘learn’ and make decisions or predictions based on analysis of large sets of data.Narayanan Vaidyanathan, the report’s author and head of business insights at ACCA says: ‘Machine learning is a critical area of development for accountants. Looking ahead it will be crucial to understand its value and benefits, as well as the ethical challenges it presents. In all this, the starting point has to be a legitimate business need with a clear understanding of what it can bring to the organisation.‘AI and machine learning can add value to the work accountants do – fromgenerating valuable insights for business decision-making, to fraud detection, risk assessment, understanding complexities in taxation and also with more effective non-financial reporting. So the accountancy profession needs tounderstand how AI and machine learning works, especially given its role in influencing the trust we have in the decisions of these systems.’Sajjeed Aslam, head of ACCA Pakistan adds: ‘Pakistan’s tech sector is growing, but when it comes to AI, accountants are trying to see through the hype to understand the realities. As with all technology, with power comes responsibility and in the case of machine learning ethical considerations are never far away. Accountants need to consider and manage potential ethical compromise from decision-making by algorithm, such as the risk of bias in the data set that feeds them and the issue of accountability for decisions made.’The results for Pakistan show that a third has no plans to adopt machine learning in their organisation, with 17 per cent undecided about it. Twenty-eight per cent are having initial discussions or exploring concepts, compared to 24 per cent globally. Only five per cent are at advanced testing stage, with ‘go live’ in three to six months. However, nine per cent are in full production mode and dealing with live data, beating other countries in the sample, for China and Malaysia who are at five percent respectively.The main barriers to adopting machine learning are lack of skilled staff at 51 per cent. Some 53 per cent cite cost as a barrier, with 17 per cent admitting there was no clear benefit from using machine learning.The report emphasises that at a minimum all finance professionals should know how AI is evolving and be alert to how the developing capabilities could overlap with their impact on their roles. To prepare for the digital future, ACCA already examinesa range of digital topics within its Masters level ACCA Qualification. It has also enhanced the digital content across many of the exams for students, while also ensuring digital is weaved into members’ continuous professional development.Sajjeed Aslam concludes: ‘Machine learning’s entrance into the accountancy mainstream is a huge opportunity here in Pakistan, but also globally. This is an area where professional accountants have the chance to develop a core understanding of emerging technologies, building their digital skills alongside their communication skills so they can explain the results really well. They can then truly benefit from the ability of technologies like machine learning to support them with intelligent analysis of vast amounts of data.

About the research

Research for the report was conducted 18 January to 4 February 2019

The report can be found here: https://www.accaglobal.com/gb/en/professional-insights/technology/machine-learning.html

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.ACCA supports its 208,000 members and 503,000 students in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 104 offices and centres and more than 7,300Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability.

ACCA and Board of Investment work together on “Ease of Doing Business” reforms

ACCA - BOI

Karachi(Cliff News)During a meeting with Helen Brand OBE, Chief Executive, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), Board of Investment (BoI) Chairman Haroon Sharif said that the government is focused on addressing the structural problems in the economy to ensure export-led development and achieve stabilisation through development of human resource in the country.Highlighting some of the structural issues, the BoI chairman said that the professional bodies such as ACCA has a significant role to play in the development of human resource in the fields of corporate management, particularly corporate finance. Helen Brand highlighted that ACCA is training professionals on the line of fulfilling the requirements of digital age and is inculcating the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.“We are looking for tangible partnerships with private sector to bring in their knowledge and expertise to get the desired results.” – Haroon Sharif, Chairman, Board of Investment (BoI)The ACCA team also shared some of the insights on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and overall business environment in Pakistan. Haroon Sharif appreciated the efforts of ACCA in finding the gaps in the policy and implementation and asked them to share concrete recommendations with the BoI, which is the Secretariat for ‘Ease of Doing Business’ reforms in the country.Earlier, Helen Brand OBE called on the Chairman of Audit Oversight Board (AOB), Mr. Tariq Iqbal Khan in Islamabad to explore opportunities for future partnerships. Senior representatives from the AOB, including Usman Hayat, Chief Executive Officer and Shahid Karim FCCA, Chief Regulatory Officer were also present at the meeting.Helen also met with Zia ul Mustafa Awan, President, ICMA Pakistan to discuss greater collaboration between both the professional accountancy bodies in developing the accountancy profession in Pakistan. Helen was also joined by Alan Johnson, Deputy President, International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and Chair of ACCA’s Accountants for Business Global Forum.Helen Brand OBE was in Pakistan to attend the third edition of Leaders in Islamabad Business Summit. Powered by ACCA’s award-winning Professional Insights and featuring business leaders and luminaries from around the world, ACCA joined the summit as a Knowledge Partner.On the sidelines of the summit, Helen also attended different sessions hosted by country’s top leadership, most notably the sessions hosted by Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Dr. Arif Alvi and General Zubair Mahmood Hayat NI, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.