Malaysian Accounting & Finance Community Urged to Grasp the Opportunity of ESG Agenda

The accounting and finance community in Malaysia is urged to take the lead in guiding businesses and public bodies through the opportunities and risks presented by the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda, according to  Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive of Management Accounting, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing AICPA and CIMA.

Mr Harding highlighted that the finance profession has reached a point of once in a generation change. Stakeholders are demanding far more from it than in the past, including significant progress on the ESG agenda, and this will be a key value driver for the organisations they serve in the future. He called on finance professionals to play their part in shaping this agenda. 

He set out how governments and market participants are driving the adoption of ESG reporting worldwide, during his visit to Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).

“The accounting profession must grasp the opportunity to provide advisory, assurance and strategic advice to help create the sustainable businesses of the future,” he was quoted as telling the audience.

“Business performance can no longer be judged purely on short-term financial returns to shareholders. Intangible assets such as brand, employee purpose and technological know-how now make up a huge amount of an organisation’s value. Creating and sustaining this value is becoming the key role of the finance professional,” he stressed.    

He reminded the audience that 82% of Chief Executive Officers see ESG as a value driver for their business over the next five years, and that the accounting and finance profession would be required to set its skills and competencies to the task of realizing this ambition. 

By embracing the possibilities offered by the latest technology, they argued that accountants can improve an organisation’s integrated thinking and decision-making capabilities, and that in turn this can promote responsible and sustainable business practices.

According to Mr Harding, finance teams have a unique ‘end to end’ view of their organisations, and already have responsibility for collecting and analysing corporate data. They will be the ones who can identify where changes and improvements can be made, and it will be their responsibility to lead the organisations they work in towards adopting and implementing these changes.

“We are seeing increasing demand in Malaysia for our professional qualifications and training. This will grow the number of accounting and finance professionals who are able to manage the risks and grasp the opportunities presented by the need to develop sustainable business models and drive economic growth. Along with technological developments which are revolutionising the profession, that means that accountants in Malaysia have a once in a life-time chance to step up, instil trust and integrity, and lead the way in building the businesses of the future,” Andrew Harding said.

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