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3 Exciting Emerging Roles in Finance, Accounting and Taxation

Finance professionals now help guide enterprise decision-making around strategic planning, budgeting, cost control, and much more.

Finance has always been an indispensable core business function for every company. But originally, finance roles were limited mainly to accounting and tax. Today, finance professionals also help guide enterprise decision-making around strategic planning, budgeting, cost control, cash flow management, environmental risk management, and much more. To support these evolving business-critical requirements, Finance professionals are taking on a wider variety of roles. Here are 3 exciting emerging roles in the modern Finance Universe.

Role 1: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Assurer

In recent years, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures have become a key focus area for regulators, boards, and audit committees, due to increasing international interest in fighting the effects of climate change.

The Demand for ESG Assurers

As countries worldwide are committed to long-term environmental sustainability, governments and regulators are increasingly demanding accurate, robust ESG reports from companies. Further, sustainability reviews are being integrated into annual reporting, and the public is scrutinising companies’ audit and assurance policies concerning ESG reporting. For all these reasons, ESG assurance professionals are in high demand, particularly in the United States and Europe. Demand is also high in countries that have implemented “carbon tax”, such as Canada, Chile, the UK and New Zealand. This demand extends to private as well as public companies since both are held accountable by stakeholders with respect to ESG reporting. The Big 4 consulting companies also hire ESG assurers.

Role and responsibilities

ESG assurers with a CGMA, CPA or ACCA background provide assurance about the organisation’s sustainability/ESG reports in financial statements. They also impact the company’s understanding of climate risk considerations that could be material to its financial performance. By creating a strong ESG proposition, ESG assurers can:

  • Impact on the company’s top-line growth
  • Help reduce energy consumption costs
  • Boost social credibility
  • Enhance ROI through optimal capital allocation to more sustainable assets
  • Earn government and regulatory support

Key skills and competencies required

To succeed in this field, ESG assurers and managers must:

1. Have advanced knowledge of key (non-financial) reporting frameworks, such as:

  • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
  • Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
  • Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHP)
  • Understand existing ESG frameworks:
  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
  • Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct,
  • ISO 26000
  • Corporate Human Rights Benchmark
  • Have experience undertaking audits in line with ISAE 3000 and  ISAE 3410
  • Have strong numerical, analytical and technical reporting skills
  • Be knowledgeable about sustainable reporting, and accounting and auditing requirements

2. Professional ESG assurers should also be proficient in:

  • Collaboration tools
  • Data analytics
  • Gap analysis
  • Audit management technologies

Role 2: Corporate Recovery and Insolvency (CR&I) Professional

The financial crisis of 2008 and its resultant economic turmoil have increased the need for experts who can help bring companies to a stable financial footing. Here’s where corporate recovery and insolvency professionals are highly valuable. CR&I professionals enable organisations to create and protect value with their advanced data and future insights skills.

The Demand for CR&I Professionals

CR&I professionals help ensure that failing or struggling companies get the best deal from creditors, suppliers, etc. They also help ensure that creditors get good results, whether the company is rescued or liquidated.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, there is a wide difference between how different countries and regions address corporate recovery and insolvency. For instance, sub-Saharan Africa has a very low insolvency score of 31.3. OECD high-income countries have a high average insolvency score of 74.9, indicating that they are better able to resolve insolvency issues within their corporate landscape. Nonetheless, corporate insolvency is a problem all over the world, which is why CR&I specialists, especially those who are certified in ACCA or AIRA’s CIRA Program are in huge demand everywhere.

Role and responsibilities

Corporate recovery and restructuring specialists typically advise companies on how to better manage working capital and re-engineer ways of doing business. Insolvency specialists support collapsed or distressed businesses through a formal administration and bankruptcy process. They can act as administrators to rescue the company, make it profitable, and help creditors realise the highest possible returns. Often, insolvency experts are also experts in business valuation, business trading, and people/stakeholder management.

Some other responsibilities of CR&I professionals include:

  • Assess and develop options based on financial analyses of client forecasts and business plans
  • Identify ways to reduce costs and improve cash flow forecasts
  • Restructure the balance sheet to find alternative sources of capital
  • Ensure that all internal and statutory deadlines are met

Key skills and competencies required

CR&I specialists must be knowledgeable about:

  • Corporate refinancing
  • Debt and headcount restructuring
  • Disposal of underperforming subsidiaries

Moreover, they must also have a broad and comprehensive set of skills and abilities, including how to:

  • Deal with and understand complex financial information
  • Identify loss-making areas of the organisation
  • Understand the context of accounting information
  • Create analytical reports
  • Understand various laws that affect CR&I

CR&I professionals must also have the strong business acumen to understand the business and determine appropriate rescue or restructuring strategies. Consultancy expertise to help the company apply organisation and process change is also crucial, as is the ability to negotiate with people and give bad news (e.g. about headcount redundancy). Finally, success in the CR&I field requires strong communication, influencing and financial analysis skills, and a flair for case management and cash flow forecasting.

Role 3: International Tax Specialist

Organisations around the world are embracing globalisation to strengthen supply chains, reduce costs, tap into a global talent pool, and achieve economies of scale. As they expand their geographical presence, they require professionals who understand the complexities of international tax laws, regulations, responsibilities and requirements. Here’s where International Tax Specialists are critical. These accounting and taxation professionals are highly proficient at calculating the organisation’s international tax liabilities. They have advanced expertise in international tax law, international tax agreements, and relevant domestic tax laws.

The Demand for International Tax Specialists

Working across borders brings a lot of operational complexity, particularly with respect to legislation and tax reforms. International tax specialists enable organisations to navigate through this complex landscape and meet various international tax compliance responsibilities. Any company looking to meet its international tax obligations and generate ongoing value needs international tax specialists. This is why the demand for these professionals is high worldwide, particularly in the U.S, Europe, China, Australia, the UK, and Canada.

Role and responsibilities

International tax experts advise companies on inbound, outbound and cross-border tax. They help firms overcome cross-border tax challenges, and identify new opportunities to achieve business goals. They also define tax strategies and operational structures, leverage tax modelling to predict the effects of tax changes, and participate in tax planning and tax preparation.

In addition, they:

  • Correct the company’s foreign assets reporting
    Provide cross-border transactional and structuring advice
  • Advise on setting up foreign operations, e.g. subsidiaries or branches
  • Advise on local tax exposures that arise from permanent establishments
  • Advise on offshore trusts and property ownership
  • Provide guidance on the implications of VAT and customs duty on the cross-border movement of goods or services
  • Design strategies to minimise tax liabilities and avoid double taxation
  • Manage and identify new opportunities, e.g. IP structures and R&D credits around the world
  • Manage and minimise global tax uncertainty

Key skills and competencies required

International tax accountants must have advanced numeracy skills, and the ability to digest, analyse and report on complex information. They should be able to help the organisation comply with diversified tax regulations and requirements. They should also be good collaborators and communicators to effectively work with clients and stakeholders, both internal and external.

In addition, they should:

  • Have advanced knowledge of international tax treaties and the tax landscape
  • Understand taxation-related changes, such as BEPS, ATAD, DAC6, MLI and US tax reform, and their impact on organisational operations
  • Be proficient at developing tax strategies and managing tax rates
  • Help the company create value through integrated global structuring and cross-border transactions

Conclusion

The world of Finance, Accounting and Taxation is constantly evolving. With increasing digitisation, new customer demands, and a more stringent regulatory landscape, organisations everywhere are now functioning in a highly complex and competitive environment. To keep up with the disruptive forces of change and maintain high profitability, they need many kinds of competent and skilled Finance professionals. The 3 emerging roles discussed in this article are already making a mark in companies all over the world, so aspiring Finance professionals would do well to explore the success potential of these careers.

Swati Swati Iyer
5 min read
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