On October 7-8, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) held its annual Middle East regional conference in Abu Dhabi. More than 140 management accountants gathered to discuss global and local issues affecting the market and the industry including the VAT, IFRS, and the risks and opportunities with robotics and automation.
Dennis Whitney, CMA, SVP at IMA, opened the conference with a presentation on data analytics. He commented on the future of the management accounting profession. “Credible sources such as the World Economic Forum, The Economist, Deloitte, Forrester Research and Gartner are predicting up to 70% displacement of the more routine and repetitive finance and accounting job tasks by AI,” he said.
Finbarr Sexton, Partner Tax Advisory at Ernst & Young talked about the risks and challenges businesses and accountants and finance professionals will face as the VAT is introduced in the region. Barely 4 months ahead of the tax’s implementation from January 1, 2018, the session had attendees eagerly asking questions to Sexton.
The conference also had two panel sessions where CFO’s and finance leaders from the region’s most prominent businesses such as Saudi Aramco, Mubadala, Saudi Amiantit, Abu Dhabi Polymers Company Ltd (Borouge) First Abu Dhabi Bank, Dubai Airport Freezone Authority and Al Sulaiman Group discussed the risks and challenges they face as the region deals with the current economic slowdown, increased competition and emerging technologies.
“The evolution of knowledge is slow compared to the rapid pace of change in technology. Therefore, as finance leaders, we have to be quick and flexible in dealing with technological developments as business enablers and opportunities rather than threats to our current way of doing business,” said Dr. Ammr Kurdi, Group CFO at Amiantit Company based in Saudi Arabia.
Reem Al Anbari, CFO of Borouge said – “There is no reason why you cannot become great finance leaders in the future. You have all the advantages our generation did not have. You are ambitious, you are equipped with state of the art education and you are comfortable with technology.”