No entrepreneur will succeed without financial smarts: ACCA's Helen Brand

Helen Brand, Chief Executive, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants speaks about ACCA's programmes for Indian students and how it helps them in becoming efficient accountants
Helen Brand, Chief Executive, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Helen Brand, Chief Executive, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Maintaining the accounts and making the right financial decisions plays a key role in any business. This is what Helen Brand, Chief Executive, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) believes in. She says, "These are some of the basic things that an entrepreneur must know. We firmly believe that our programmes help people get into their own sustainable business or entrepreneurship. Recently, during one of our survey studies titled 'Generation Next', we covered 19,000 respondents globally. Over 80 per cent of these people wanted to start their own business. The ACCA is a platform for them to acquire these skills and no entrepreneur will succeed without wise decisions in finance." And we couldn't agree more. Excerpts from the interview:

1. Why should students choose to study at the ACCA?
The ACCA is bound by market needs and we look very closely at the requirements of professional accountants. Students who take up the ACCA are trained in a way that they meet the requirements of the industry because we have been modifying and enhancing our content and method of delivery. For example, we have made all our exams into computer-based ones so that they can learn using spreadsheets in accountancy. We have created a new style in the content by providing case studies. All this will prepare students for professional competencies. Our tagline is 'Think Ahead' which means that qualification is the not just the foundation of any career, it must provide forward-looking innovative ideas.  

2. What are the skills that a professional accountant must have?
Vision, creativity, emotional intelligence, experience and digital quotient are key skills that any professional accountant will require in 2020 and are the future to identify the quotient for their professional success. I think it is very important for the next generation to understand these factors in a broader sense and must not take them for granted in future.

3. What are the different programmes that you offer?
We have one main ACCA programme that is meant for professionals and people with any educational background can take up this programme. The key point is that all the students come equally qualified when it is completed. You need to have three years of work experience and pass the examinations of ethics and professional skills modules. Apart from this main programme, we offer a diploma programme in International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS). There are different diplomas that we offer including a Diploma in Public Sector Financial Management, Public Sector Accounting Standards and so on.

4. What are your future plans for students in India?
We want to provide the Indian students an opportunity to work with industry experts. Hence, we are working with employers to ensure that they understand the value that students can bring to the development of business. The other plan is embedding of the ACCA's applied learning qualification in schools and universities. This year, we have partnered with 90 universities in India. They are combining their BCom or business programmes with ACCA and offering them to students. Christ University in Bengaluru offers BCom with ACCA as an embedded course. There is a huge demand for the qualification where they get 2,000 applications but they offer it to only 150 students. We are also working with CBSE schools to offer ACCA programmes for class XI and XII students so that they understand the importance of accountancy in any business. The main reason behind this initiative is to build financial literacy among students. Working with universities and corporates helps us increase the employability of graduates. ACCA Massive Open Online Courses is something that anybody can access for free. Similarly, we are providing Foundation Accountancy online course for class XII students.

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