Thursday, August 11 2022


THE realities of senior public sector finance leaders handling the novel coronavirus pandemic are shared in a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Chartered Accountants) and CA ANZ (Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand ).

Published in Leading the recovery – the evolving role of senior finance executives in the public sector, participants at various global roundtables have identified three broad areas where the public sector will face challenges in the years to come: recruiting and retaining finance professionals, preparing to cut utility budgets and adapting to wider societal changes.

Looking back, they reveal how nimble professional accountants have been in enabling their organizations to support governments’ goals of saving lives and protecting livelihoods. Increasing spending, streamlining the decision-making process, and better integrating the finance function epitomized the work of senior finance leaders and their teams during this time.

Drawing on the experience of the pandemic, ACCA and CA ANZ say there are six key lessons for public sector finance leaders to focus on. They need to transform systems to build organizational resilience and make better use of data. They need to rethink leadership approaches to empower staff and provide visible leadership. And they need to make sure their organizations adapt to new ways of working to focus on the goal, then place and remove barriers.

The ACCA and CA ANZ have also identified an ‘ABCD’ of skills that future leaders in public sector finance will need to develop: adaptability, business acumen, communication and determination.

Helen Brand OBE, Managing Director of ACCA, said: “It is very encouraging to read the memories of these leaders in public sector finance who have remained so dedicated to their organisations, their clients and their customers during the turmoil of the pandemic. They are well prepared for the future, but they are also not complacent and see a clear need to constantly learn.”

Ainslie van Onselen, Managing Director of CA ANZ, adds: “Our report’s ABCD framework can help aspiring public sector finance leaders ensure they are expanding their horizons from the traditional tasks of a finance professional to a broader organizational perspective. This breadth and depth has aided leaders during the pandemic and also prepares for future resilience.”

During the roundtables, ACCA and CA ANZ members also commented on the value of their professional bodies in helping them understand the ‘basics’ and build knowledge in their careers through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Helen and Ainslie jointly concluded: “Professional accountants have a broader skill set beyond technical knowledge and bring strong strategic advice to support the organizations they serve. These skills can be developed and refined through experience and reflection.

“Given the immense ordeal of the pandemic, it is wonderful to hear finance leaders and their teams agree that they have been able to demonstrate their value to organizations and [the] audience they ultimately serve. We agree with that too.”

We believe that accounting is a fundamental profession of society that supports both the public and private sectors. This is why we are committed to developing a strong global accountancy profession and the many benefits this brings to society and individuals.

Since 1904, being a force for the public good has been an integral part of our purpose. And because we are a not-for-profit organization, we are building a sustainable global profession by reinvesting our surplus to deliver member value and grow the profession for the next generation.

With our world-leading ACCA qualification, we offer everyone, everywhere the opportunity to enjoy a rewarding career in accounting, finance and management. And, through our respected research, we are leading the profession in answering today’s questions and preparing for tomorrow.

ACCA and CA ANZ have formed a strategic alliance to benefit members and to help shape the future of the profession. Learn more about us at

About CA ANZ: Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) represents 131,673 finance professionals, helping them make a difference to the businesses, organizations and communities in which they work and live. Chartered accountants are known as difference makers. The depth and breadth of their expertise helps them see the big picture and map out the best course of action.

CA ANZ actively engages with governments, regulators and standard setters on behalf of members and the profession, to boldly advocate for the public good. Learn more:

The report and its summary can be downloaded here:

About ACCA: ACCA is the Association of Chartered Chartered Accountants. We are a thriving global community of 233,000 members and 536,000 future members, based in 178 countries and regions, who uphold the highest professional and ethical values.

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