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About this book

The book explores the developing challenges and opportunities within the business and finance world which are likely to impact the accounting profession in the near future. It outlines a number of approaches to ensure that the accountants of the future are equipped with a useful awareness of some of the key topic areas that are quickly becoming a reality and helps bridge the gap between academia and practice. The chapters are standalone introductory pieces to provide useful précis of key topics and how they apply to the accounting profession in particular. It aims to deliver key readings on ‘hot topics’ not addressed in other texts which the accounting profession is tackling or are likely to tackle soon. Hence the book provides accounting students and researchers a solid grounding in a broad range of highly relevant non-technical accounting themes, looking at the bigger environment in which future accountants will be operating, involving considerations of strategic corporate governance issues and highlighting competences beyond the standard technical accounting skill sets.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction

This introductory chapter highlights developing challenges and opportunities that are likely to impact on the accounting professional in the foreseeable future. A professional career requires the modern accountant or finance expert to contribute to much more than just the numbers. This chapter outlines how the book is split into two sections; the first section covering external environmental challenges, and the second section covering the accounting profession’s response. Each chapter can be used as a standalone introductory piece upon a ‘hot topic’. Whilst the book is aimed at supporting undergraduate and masters students upon a range of university courses in accounting, finance and business, it can also aid students studying for professional accounting qualifications and provides useful teaching material for academics in ‘contemporary issues’ style modules.
Darren Byrne

Chapter 2. Sustainability, the Triple Bottom LineTriple Bottom Line and Corporate Social ResponsibilityCorporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The traditional economic business model is focussed on generating profits for shareholders, and as such, it is quite short-term in focus. It takes resources (whether natural, human or financial) and uses them to make products or deliver services with the aim of making profit which is then returned to shareholders. Traditionally, there has been little regard for the sustainability of this model. This is now changing as the world recognises the finite nature of many resources and the social issues which unchecked growth bring. This chapter discusses what is meant by sustainability, and discusses some approaches used at both policy-level and corporate level to address these challenges.
Elaine Conway

Chapter 3. The Challenges of the Circular EconomyCircular Economy

This chapter provides a broad overview of circular economy, its foundational characteristics and discusses its implications for accounting information. It discusses the enablers and barriers to the transition from the current linear business models to circular economy, contemplating the macro, meso and micro levels, including the accountant’s role in interventions and the accounting developments required. Multi-disciplinary collaboration at all levels and education is fundamental to the transition with full systems thinking and consistent approaches to measurement and metrics in order to assist in clarifying the complex interrelationships within supply chains. The accounting profession needs to ensure that they are an integral element, enablers rather than inhibitors, in progressing the move away from the linear and towards the circular economy.
Simon Peter Nadeem, Jose Arturo Garza-Reyes, Denise Glanville

Chapter 4. Technology Challenges in Accounting and Finance

Since human history began, new ways of working or inventions have emerged which have fundamentally changed the accepted methods of living and/or doing business. Whether this was the wheel or the printing press, the ‘technology of the day’ has disrupted accepted practice, and usually required learning new skills or approaches. In the modern era, much of this disruption has occurred through information technology, such as the internet. This chapter presents four technologies of varying degrees of maturity which are likely to change the accounting profession: Big Data, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain. We explain what each technology is and how it might impact the business world and how accountants need to potentially change their skillsets to address the challenges these disruptive technologies bring.
Liz Crookes, Elaine Conway

Chapter 5. The Contemporary Corporate Tax Strategy Environment

Corporation tax is a material cost for companies. As part of their fiduciary duty to shareholders, directors need to establish corporate tax strategies (CTS) that minimise this cost. This was the traditional focus of companies’ CTS. It is now no longer the only consideration. The contemporary corporation tax environment is much more complex. Compliance requirements are more demanding with a greater risk of default, particularly where companies operate across tax jurisdictions. Simultaneously globalisation has opened up rich new tax planning opportunities, but the aggressive exploitation of such opportunities has led to an intense public scrutiny, demanding companies pay their ‘fair share’ of tax, threatening companies’ reputation and brand. This chapter examines the need for companies to adopt a CTS that not only manages their corporation tax cost, but also the compliance requirements, as well as demonstrating the company pays a ‘fair share of tax’.
Juliet Hogsden

Chapter 6. Corporate Reporting: From Numbers to Narrative

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an insight into the changing shape and scope of the corporate reporting function. The chapter focuses on the move towards the inclusion of narrative content in the financial reports. Mindful of the numerous definitions of narrative reporting the chapter settles on narrative reporting to envelope terms such as non-financial information, environmental reporting, corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability and integrated reporting. The transition from numbers to narrative is explored by looking at how this is working in practice, followed by how much of this has been driven by reporting requirements and how much is voluntary. The chapter concludes to consider the impact of recent events on the corporate reporting function and the challenge to balance numbers and narrative.
Parminder Johal

Chapter 7. Contemporary Challenges in Audit

This chapter sets out some of the key challenges likely to impact on audit in the coming years and discusses the steps audit firms may need to undertake to deal with such issues. This chapter will primarily focus upon the need to enhance audit quality as an overarching principle. It will go on to discuss the evolving skillsets required of auditors in the light of changing technologies. It will also discuss the effect on audit of the emergence of narrative reporting. Finally, the issues affecting the audit standards are discussed in a consideration of whether these remain fit for purpose given the changing landscape. The chapter concludes by discussing the delicate balance needed between independence, innovation and regulation.
David Thompson

Chapter 8. Why Do We Need to Measure Performance? A Local Government Perspective

Performance measurement is always an interesting and emotive topic to discuss. Many people are comforted by calculating key performance indicators and feel that they are successful if they count everything they can. However nothing grows just by counting it. In this chapter we will look at what performance measurement is and some of the main theories used, like the Balanced Scorecard. We take a particular look at the public sector and specifically Local Government. Local Government has a more complicated “business model” since many of their service users are also taxpayers and they need to demonstrate that taxpayers’ funds have been spent fairly and responsibly. The conclusion of the chapter shows that more research is needed to see how performance measurement impacts performance overall.
Hilary Coyle

Chapter 9. Finance and Accounting—Beyond the Numbers with Self-Leadership

In this chapter the Authors take the accounting and finance student out of their subject-specific approach and go beyond the numbers into learning about self-leadership and the skills employers look for in future employees, including communication skills, creativity and problem-solving skills. The case for these skills is made through a review of literature associated with accounting and finance, predominantly from an employer’s perspective. The use of projects whilst at university to support skill enhancement, for example, the development of authenticity, responsibility and the capacity to self-lead is discussed. The chapter ends by returning to the value of independent, but supported, study to support development of these added skills for the benefit of students’ professional careers.
Darren Byrne, Dave Lees

Chapter 10. The Future of Accountancy—Beyond the Numbers

The pace of change continues to increase through rapid developments in technology which are likely to transform ways of working in the accounting profession. Whilst some of this change is likely to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, much of the mundane ‘number-crunching’ and data processing currently undertaken by accountants will be automated over the next few years. This should not be regarded as a threat, but more of an opportunity to embrace the softer skills and more value-added work such as consultancy; advising clients and businesses on how to derive more value from their business models. This will require a change of skill set and an appreciation of the wider issues impacting business ‘beyond the numbers’.
Elaine Conway


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