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Accountants need to prepare for 50 public sector forces

Public sector forces in accountancy

Accountants need to prepare for 50 forces that are leading the changes in the public sector, according to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). The organisation's latest report highlights key areas that are driving changes and that accountants need to be ready for.

Based on more than 1,000 global online surveys completed by senior executives, ACCA members and members of other accountancy bodies between May and August 2016, the report found that economic growth, business leaders' responsiveness to change and quality and availability of the talent pool around the world are the top change drivers.

Of these, economic growth is the main force causing changes in the public sector, with respondents in the East rating it particularly highly. Many respondents also viewed access to a global talent pool as critical, however, this was not the case in Western Europe, perhaps due to the area's inability to attract new talent from other regions.

While finding the right talent is a continuous challenge and long-term goal for those in the public sector, especially when it comes to addressing the gap in talent within different regions, the report also found that business leaders being able to respond to change is viewed as "crucial". Leaders who can respond quickly and effectively to disruption and change are able to minimise confusion within organisations and meet changes in requirements accurately.

Chair of ACCA's public sector global forum, Stephen Emasu, said: “The scale and pace of change in the public sector is accelerating. Effective governments need to understand which issues should be their top priorities and when they are likely to impact," reports Accountancy Age.

The 50 forces of change highlighted in the report are expected to affect the public sector landscape on a global scale up to the year 2021. They include challenges across talent development, governance, operations and strategy.

Each of the 50 forces was assessed in terms of several areas to determine how likely the chances of them impacting the sector were and when this would likely occur. The areas included politics and law, economy, science and technology, business of government, environment and energy and resources. They were also assessed against the accountancy profession and the practice of accounting to get as accurate estimations as possible.

Helen Brand, chief executive of ACCA, told the publication: “Collectively these drivers of change are making the public sector environment more fluid and forcing it to evolve. There is a huge opportunity to help shape the public services of the future, achieving value for money and long-term sustainability.

“Arguably, there are few other areas that provide the diversity of challenge and fulfilment found in the sector. To perform their roles well, public sector finance professionals need to be able to navigate the present and prepare for the future to ensure that the best value is obtained from public funds.”​