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Tenacity, renewal and resilience is the new normal

South African Institute of Professional Accountants
11 February 2022

Tenacity, renewal and resilience is the new normal

The level of complexity and the speed of change in the world has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has forced the accounting profession to adapt, to renew and to become much more resilient.
The progress that has been made over the past two years has been highlighted during a recent global support series for small- and medium-sized practices (SMPs) and small- and medium-sized entities (SMEs).
The series was hosted by the Edinburgh Group and several international bodies, including the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Certified Public Accountants of Ireland, the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA), and the Federation of Mediterranean Certified Accountants.
Shahied Daniels, the Chief Executive of SAIPA and chair of the Edinburgh Group, remarked on the importance for the profession to remain relevant and ready to meet the demands of the fourth industrial revolution. Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) is the order of the day, therefore SMPs need to be vigilant and adaptable to the ever-evolving world we are living in.
Global experts have over the three-day webinar shared practical solutions, offered advice and shared personal experiences.

Adapting to the changes

It is clear that around the globe businesses and practitioners experienced similar challenges. Everyone had to quickly adapt to the change from pen and paper to a digital world. Accountants had to, in some instances more forcefully, get their clients to adopt new ways of communicating through Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp.
Disrupted business models led to rapid digital transformation, cloud accounting and the necessity for integrated reporting.
Professional accountants will have to think more about the quality and the value of information that they report on. It is critical for future sustainability.
The pandemic has also ensured greater collaboration and it demonstrated the power of collaboration. “We need diversity in our thinking,” Daniels said.

The impact

It takes a certain kind of tenacity to work within the SMP environment and to work with SMEs. “We have become more than just accountants. We need to be trusted advisors and even psychologists”.
The pandemic let loose a range of emotions ranging from anxiety, feelings of helplessness to stress and grief.
A study by the World Economic Forum found that 56% of employees surveyed experienced to a large extent an increased anxiety about job security. Only 20% experienced no anxiety about job security. Around 55% of employees experienced increased stress due to changes in their work routine, compared to 19% who experienced no stress at all about the change.
Half of the employees found it difficult to get a work-life balance compared to 22% who did not struggle with this. “As business people and advisors, we need to ensure the well-being of our people and our clients,” Daniels said.

The road ahead

South Africa has reportedly exited the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses have failed, many have barely survived, and some have actually thrived. “We have to remain resilient because the Covid-19 pandemic is certainly not the last crisis that will demand agility and innovation”, he added.
“We have the core skills and competencies to give assurance on financial information that is required for the future sustainability of our own businesses and that of SMEs”.