Continuous learning key to corporate reporting

By leveraging innovative platforms such as podcasts or being creative, we can create awareness about changing world patterns, encourage adopting new habits and drop social and cultural norms that promote inequality. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

A striking feature in the current business environment is the rapid pace of innovation. Many organisations have gone to great lengths to establish innovation hubs where dedicated staff are at liberty to experiment with novel ideas which they can implement across the business.

This innovation ecosystem has been enabled by several factors, chief among them technology.

These technologies are drivers of the fourth industrial revolution, ranging from artificial intelligence, robotics, 3-D printing, Big Data, Blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT).

One notable effect of these latest technologies on innovation is the changing business models applied by organisations. For example, we have seen an increase in organisations adopting the aggregator business model for e-commerce by connecting businesses and customers.

We have also seen increases in the adoption of cryptocurrencies by many countries and organisations. Some countries are already planning to issue digital currencies as well.

In addition, organisations are under pressure from stakeholders to operate sustainably, as witnessed by the attention paid to ESG principles and standards in their strategy and reporting. These matters reflect the complexities in the environment in which organisations operate today.

It also includes changes in regulations (reporting and otherwise) in response to these complexities and changes in the business environment.

Learning mindset

Succeeding in this complex environment requires corporate reporting practitioners to adopt a continuous learning mindset or approach. It is an approach that views learning as a continuing exercise throughout the entire life of a corporate reporting practitioner rather than as a one-off event in a career.

The skills and training acquired through this approach keep the corporate reporting practitioner relevant to their organisation and the wider society.

A continuous learning mindset will require practitioners to be agile enough to adopt new skills as often as needed through a cycle of learning and unlearning that keeps the corporate reporting practitioner relevant to their organisation and society.

Keeping abreast with the changes in the reporting regulations landscape alone requires learning both the new reporting principles and new skills to implement new reporting requirements. For example, in recent years, we have seen the role of accountants in many organisations evolve.

The integration of skills such as big data, robotics, data analytics, quantitative analysis and financial modelling into traditional accounting roles has meant that accountants need to see their professional CPA qualifications as an entry point into their career and embrace a mindset to reskill themselves continuously on other aspects required to keep them relevant over their entire career.

Leaders across organisations have a vital role in ensuring that their corporate reporting teams can navigate the complexities their organisation faces in the environment. First and most important is ensuring that organisations invest in continuous learning programs that benefit the organisation over time.

Organisations should also identify the skills required by their corporate reporting teams and then design a training calendar and budget that is tailored and suited to address the gaps at an individual level.

ESG standards

Organisations should prioritise these reskilling events and programmes as human capital is the most valuable asset in any business.

For example, the requirements for organisations to report on ESG standards will require reporting teams to understand the applicable or relevant framework to the organisation and the new reporting requirements of these ESG reporting frameworks.

Organisations that make smart investments in their people will increase their capacity to understand the new regulatory reporting requirements, the changing reporting frameworks and how to tell the organisation’s unique story through reporting. Empowering an organisation’s corporate reporting team through capacity building is a win-win for everyone.

Awodumila, Associate Director at PwC Kenya.

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