Scottish financial professionals are poised to add even greater value by the advance of digital technology, according to ACCA CEO Helen Brand.  

Speaking to the PrimeGlobal business leadership conference in Edinburgh on 8June, Brand told the conference that technology frees up accountants to carry out more fulfilling work.

Brand said: “We’ve all heard it said many times that the unstoppable rise of digital applications is a threat to many jobs and roles in today’s economy. In the case of professional accountants that’s only true if you believe their skills are limited to tasks like running spreadsheets and the balancing of columns of figures.

“AI-powered machines can carry out routine, repetitive tasks more quickly, more accurately and more cheaply than humans. But that conception of an accountant’s work is a part of history, if it was ever true at all.

“Now, we are seeing technology liberate accountants to carry out work of higher value, with strategic importance, to serve employers and clients in a much broader sense, as leaders and experts in the changing world of business and finance.

“This is why the accountancy profession is so important; why employers want them and need them in their businesses; and why accountants are irreplaceable.’

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PrimeGlobal CEO Stephen Heathcote said: “Our member firms are trusted business advisors who need to lead change driven by technology, working patterns, generational shifts, climate change and economic trends.

“ACCA has incredible reach across its members and stakeholders globally, our partnership with ACCA enables our firms to learn about emerging practice and upskill their professionals for future need.  We share Helen’s view that the role of the professional accountant is an exciting one – critical to wider society and sustainable prosperity – and is needed more than ever before. We will continue to partner with ACCA to make ours the profession of the future.’

In her speech, Brand also praised Scottish financial professionals for the way they had embraced new ways of working. Recent ACCA research – UK Talent Trends in Finance 2023 – based on a global survey of over 8,000 finance professionals – found that the UK is one of the most advanced places in the world in high levels of remote and hybrid working with Scotland enjoying the highest level of hybrid working in the world.