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To prepare for tomorrow, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) led an ambitious multi-stakeholder consultation process that challenged the status quo and considered how the drivers of change—economic, environmental, technological, geopolitical and societal shifts—will impact the future of the accounting profession.

CPA Canada Foresight: Reimagining the Profession included six months of in-person consultation and online discussions with more than 1,200 CPAs and other stakeholders, such as regulators, academics, technology experts and standard setters from Canada and around the world.

A Future Reimagined

During the consultation, participants were asked to consider:

  • What will business look like in 2030?
  • What skills do professional accountants need in the future?
  • How do we adapt to serve those future needs?

Participants also weighed-in to create scenarios to identify future directions for the profession in light of the drivers of change such as technology, societal shifts and climate change. These insights led to the development of The Way Forward report.

The report, which is available for free on CPA Canada’s website, lays out the groundwork to create a new strategic direction for the accountancy profession over the next 10 years.

Key Findings

  • Accountants need to consider new ways of helping the organizations they serve unlock value. To do this, they need to consider how to identify, measure, and report on non-financial drivers of value including culture, brand and sustainability.
  • Data is the new currency and accountants have a role to play in how data is protected, trusted, governed, and used to make decisions.
  • Ethics and public trust must be at forefront as accountants shift into the digital age.  
  • Accountants need to drive organization agility and innovation. Mirroring this, the accountancy profession must also react quickly and innovatively to changes in the business environment, ensuring the profession continues to be relevant and responsive, and to protect the interests of its members and the public.

Participants agreed that there is an urgent case for the accountancy profession to embrace these changes or risk falling behind, losing relevance, and being replaced by competitors.

The ongoing work of Foresight will influence and develop new approaches to ensure a strong future for the accountancy profession. The challenges facing our profession today are unprecedented. But as the Foresight initiative has proven, the profession is well-positioned to adapt to the information age and the new global realities of the digital era.

Through an unwavering vision and commitment to tackling the challenges identified in the first phase of Foresight, the profession has an opportunity to make a broad impact to advance the interests of society and the public good, and to be known as the new purveyors and leaders of positive change around the world.

The Journey Continues

Foresight’s Phase 2 will include developing several multi-stakeholder working groups focusing on two areas: data governance and standards, and value creation. 

Online discussions will continue on CPA Canada’s digital platform. Accountants, investors, regulators, academics, and other stakeholders—key players in the accountancy ecosystem—are invited to join in and keep the conversation going.

As you can see, this journey isn’t over. It’s just getting started. With professional accountants serving as strategic advisors to all sectors of the economy, the accountancy profession will continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring professional accountants are prepared to continue to add value to their organizations and clients.

As one of the world’s largest accounting bodies, CPA Canada is calling on the global accountancy community to get involved. Share The Way Forward with your network and join our online platform to leave your comments. By bringing multiple voices, ideas and perspectives together, you are helping shape the accountancy profession’s future.