Robot and technology dominated the MIA International Accountants Conference 2018, with the theme of “Riding the Digital Wave, Leading Transformation.”
In her welcoming remarks, MIA CEO Dr. Nurmazilah Dato’ Mahzan urged accountants to address fears of tech-driven job obsolescence by “leveraging on digital, whether it is artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud or data analytics, and to embark on transformational initiatives and apply the right tools.”
Later at the glitzy opening ceremony, robot joined the party as Cruzr – the cloud-based business-oriented humanoid from Chinese AI and humanoid robotic company UBTECH – did a little dance with its flexible arms and used voice recognition to greet Guest of Honour YB Dato’ IR Haji Amiruddin Hamzah, Deputy Minister of Finance who was escorted by MIA President Encik Salihin Abang and Dr. Nurmazilah. Cruzr was also present at the ceremony certifying the MIA International Accountants Conference as the ‘largest gathering of accountants in a single event’ by the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR). The MBR certificate was presented to the MIA Conference Director, G. Shanmugam and Conference Project Manager, Pn Noor Azlina Abu Bakar by the Chief Operating Officer of MBR witnessed by our Guest of Honour.
In his welcome speech, En Salihin said that MIA is emphasising for its members keep up with the new standards, professional practices and regulations – such as the Companies Act 2016’s impacts on financial statements and reporting compliance. These are changing the landscape tremendously and placing increased pressure on accountants as managers of risk and custodians of the public interest.
During his keynote address, Dato’ Amiruddin touched on the implementation of the government’s shift from modified cash-based accounting to accrual-based accounting, led by the Accountant General’s Department of Malaysia under the Ministry of Finance. According to Dato’ Amiruddin, the integrated Government Financial & Management Accounting System (iGFMAS) has been live effective 1 January 2018 in all ministries and agencies.
“Accrual accounting fosters better financial planning to ensure that the government is able to meet its liabilities as they fall due and the requirement to identify, measure and report government liabilities will result in transparency,” said Dato’ Amiruddin, who thanked MIA for its support for accrual accounting implementation, including technical support, support for public financial management enhancement, support of compliance with international standards specifically the Malaysian Public Sector Accounting Standards (MPSAS) and capacity building for accountants in the public sector.
Importantly, Dato’ Amiruddin commended MIA for strengthening its enforcement to enhance regulation and signalled support for regulatory reforms. “The government believes more can be done to strengthen MIA’s powers and we are looking at enhancing and refining the Accountants Act 1967 to further empower regulation and enforcement of the profession,” he said.
Once again, the Conference outdid itself by attracting close to 3,100 delegates, 70 sought-after speakers and 60 partners and many supporters. While the sessions were well-balanced, covering a mix of standards and regulation, digital disruption, economic prospects and trends, and technical issues on leasing and auditing, it was clear that delegates were most interested in the application and impacts of the emerging tools most relevant to the profession – blockchain, data analytics and robotics process automation. The concurrent session on analytics for accounting alone drew over 1,200 delegates who spilled out of the hall.
While it will be a hard act to follow, MIA pledges to deliver even more interesting and relevant content for the next Conference in 2019. “A key focus of this year’s Conference was whether accountants and auditors will lose their jobs to automation. The reality is that automation will only take away the routine and repetitive tasks, leaving accountants free to concentrate on higher value activities. For example, accountants are best placed to enhance governance and security using tools such as blockchain or to offer advisory to customers and business partners through big data analytics. We will continue to expose our delegates to such developments and upskill them on how to become future-proof against obsolescence,” said G. Shanmugam, Conference Director and Executive Director, Strategy and Development, MIA.