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Create, protect and sustain value – the role of accountants as trusted professionals at the heart of sustainable organisations


30 Sep 2021


Sustainable Dev.

Analysis from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) uncovers the drivers of change shaping sustainable business and the must-have capabilities needed from accountants as sustainable business and finance professionals of the next decade.

ACCA is building on its global research programme with the launch of the new reportProfessional accountants at the heart of sustainable organisations. This latest research considers the future of the accountancy profession and identifies four new emerging career zones of opportunity for finance professionals where they can make vital contributions to businesses and other organisations:

  • Zone 1: Transformation drivers
  • Zone 2: Enterprise analysts
  • Zone 3: Assurance providers
  • Zone 4: Stakeholder reporters

The report also outlines the core competencies needed in assessing the outlook to 2030, reflecting the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for an ACCA-qualified accountant to meet the future needs and demands of the profession. Individuals will need to balance these core capabilities - such as  collaboration, ethics, sustainability and expertise - to fit their role and stage of career.

Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of ACCA, said: ‘With the unprecedented challenges the world has faced since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, our world today is not as many expected. This new report emphasises the role of business in society. Organisations large and small - in the private and public sectors - will play an essential role in forging a better world for the longer term beyond the ravages of the pandemic, and in dealing with the growing environmental emergency. The accountancy profession is an integral part of this.

‘The newly identified career zones represent a wealth of opportunity for accountancy jobs in all sectors and industries across the globe. Professional accountants are the sustainable business and finance professionals of the next decade, driving good business decision-making, creating new organisational value, protecting existing value, and communicating that value to the outside world through their reporting.

‘In tomorrow’s complex world, a human touch is still needed, where finance professionals bring their competencies, ethical and professional judgment to bear alongside their technical mastery and technological know-how to support organisations to generate sustainable societal value.’

The report uses findings gathered over the past two years, including a survey of over 2,000 responses from finance professionals, and is enriched by a wide-ranging and extensive engagement programme of roundtables with external stakeholders across the world from October 2020 to June 2021. These explored the drivers of change impacting the profession as well as examining the core capabilities needed by accountants in the future including consultation with focus groups, ACCA global forums and market specific external experts.

This engagement has informed ACCA’s new skills framework, which details the essential capabilities that all sustainable business and finance professionals will need to thrive in the future. Furthermore, it showcases how these capabilities will be needed across the various career opportunities ahead.

Report author, Jamie Lyon, said: ‘With growing organisational complexity, competing stakeholder needs, monumental societal change, workforce transition, challenged finances, technological disruption and an environmental emergency, organisations across the globe are challenged as never before. The 2020s in accountancy are a decade in which the profession is integral to building sustainable businesses that generate both financial returns and long-term value for society, while caring for the planet.

‘The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated business change at a pace unimaginable before the onset of the crisis and has presented organisations with unforeseen challenges but also unprecedented opportunities. There are major drivers of change that organisations now must navigate as they seek to be sustainable financially for the long term and create societal value -from the economy, to geopolitics to the climate crisis. It’s a world of great opportunity for the sustainable business and finance professional.’

To help people understand the opportunities, ACCA is also launching a new career navigator. This tool will help users understand the core capabilities needed at different stages of a career journey and set them apart as a sustainable business and finance professional. They’ll be able to plan their career path by exploring emerging career opportunities and job roles mapped to the blend of capabilities these require, and access relevant learning and job opportunities.

For more information, visit

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For media enquiries, contact:

Monique McKenzie


M: +44 (0)7725 613 447

Twitter: @ACCANews

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global professional body for professional accountants.

We’re a thriving global community of 233,000 members and 536,000 future members based in 178 countries and regions, who work across a wide range of sectors and industries. We uphold the highest professional and ethical values

We offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. Our qualifications and learning opportunities develop strategic business leaders, forward-thinking professionals with the financial, business and digital expertise essential for the creation of sustainable organisations and flourishing societies.

Since 1904, being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. In December 2020, we made commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals which we are measuring and will report on in our annual integrated report.

We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society and is vital helping economies, organisations and individuals to grow and prosper. It does this by creating robust trusted financial and business management, combating corruption, ensuring organisations are managed ethically, driving sustainability, and providing rewarding career opportunities.

And through our cutting-edge research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing for the future. We’re a not-for-profit organisation. Find out more at