Saint Lucia is in the top seven for ACCA membership in the Caribbean and the island’s standing in the region continues to grow. Caribbean Head for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Orin Gordon, recently paid a visit to Saint Lucia as part of efforts to engage with the membership here.
In an exclusive interview with the STAR Gordon spoke first of accountancy’s ties with economic development stating that there has never been a more important time for the profession.
“Many companies both in the private and public sector have had to manage a situation of declining revenues, shrinkage, redundancies and the like,” he said. “The one profession that has sort of survived all of that is the accountancy profession because more than ever we need accountants to let you know how viable your business is.”
Using various methods of “deep drill research” Gordon said the Association had found that the nature of work is changing, and leading the charge in that change will be accountants.
“We’ve been doing research on the accountant of the future, the work place of the future, and Generation Next; what the young people coming into the various sectors of the work force are telling us about their expectations, abilities, etc. We’re finding in our research that young people are more mobile internationally than they’re ever been; they expect promotions earlier and, generally, a greater reward more quickly than their peers and predecessors have.”
As such, ACCA was making it a priority to equip members with the necessary inside information that could help improve business practices.
“That information will help give them a more competitive edge in the global market place,” he said. “Besides that there’s been a whole body of research on other things that are completely transforming the workplace: online automation, robotics, and the like.”
Though ACCA was at its base a “pretty old profession”, the ACCA Caribbean Head highlighted the forward-thinking moves the Association had made in recent times. In terms of the recent Saint Lucia visit, “We are here to say to our members that your membership of the ACCA matters.”
The path to becoming an ACCA member includes passing 14 exams (and from the Foundation level, up to 21), and having been a practising certified accountant for three years. “It’s a really tough undertaking, and it takes a lot of time and a lot out of you, so the time frame for completion varies,” Gordon shared.
The good news was, proportionately with the rest of the OECS countries, Saint Lucia “punches well above its weight” in terms of membership, according to Gordon, with the highest number of certified accountants in the OECS, something he considered a good sign for the economy.
“It shows that the level of compliance and the level of financial rigour is there from the very beginning and the prospects for managing the economy well, and managing both corporate and private entities well.
Trinidad and Tobago was on top of the list in terms of membership, an island that was, in his opinion, “experiencing a great deal of difficulty at the moment.” Jamaica was the second biggest market and was “bouncing back economically.”
“Barbados is doing okay, and Guyana, which is the sixth largest, with 196 members, there’s a real sense of boom town USA in Guyana. There’s a mixed picture across the Caribbean. Of course we don’t know what the opening up of Cuba will do in terms of taking business away from the rest of the Caribbean, but that’s a very interesting dynamic. The most developed capital economy in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, is struggling in economic and GDP terms. Jamaica is a little bit on the up, Barbados is holding steady and Guyana is certainly on the up in terms of Caribbean economies. Saint Lucia is very well poised because of the chartered accountant picture in the country.”
Gordon maintained, “There’s never been a better time for accounting, or the accounting profession.”
“The depth of the chartered accountant field in Saint Lucia is something very encouraging,” he said. “The people who are best poised, in my opinion, to lead the charge towards economic development, if you’re developing, and economic recovery, if you’re down, are the chartered accountants. They’re the people who know your business fundamentally, inside out, and they’re the people who, in my opinion, have the fastest track to taking the top seat in the business. You need more of these people around you.”
The ACCA Caribbean representative urged more people coming out of the postgraduate and A Level streams to consider accounting as a profession and, by extension, the ACCA qualifications as he described it as one of the surest routes to the CEO suites in many companies. He also shared that ACCA would be looking to partner with more national entities moving forward to host more high profile events in