Trust, Tech and Transformation: Navigating Investor Priorities

According to PwC’s Global Investor Survey 2023, “investors want to better understand how companies are managing crises and staying resilient, while creating and protecting long-term value in today’s fracturing world. They are looking closely at two areas – emerging technology and sustainability – to gauge whether companies can seize opportunities for reinvention and business transformation, or will instead succumb to rivals.”

The survey, now in its third consecutive year, queried 345 investors and analysts across geographies, assets classes, and investment approaches for insights into the factors that most affect the companies they invest in and cover. Through the survey, and follow-up interviews with investment professionals, PwC explored how investors assess threats and opportunities, allocate capital and determine what is important to their decision making. “We also asked about the degree to which they trust – or mistrust – the information they have available to make decisions.”

Read more
US Securities Regulator Signals It May Curb Climate Rule Ambitions

In an exclusive, Reuters has published an article that says U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials have told lobbyists and corporate executives in recent days that the agency's long-anticipated climate rules may scale back some of the most demanding greenhouse gas emissions disclosure requirements that it had proposed.

At issue, says the article, “are so-called Scope 3 emissions that account for greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere from a company's supply chain and the consumption of its products by customers, according to people familiar with the conversations.”

Read more
The Accounting Pipeline

A recent article in The CPA Journal says that “the accounting community – from practitioners to educators to advocacy groups – has known for some time that the profession is facing a significant challenge: a shortage of skilled labor. Although the demand for accounting services continues to grow, the number of qualified accounting professionals is not keeping pace. This shortage is affecting firms of all sizes, from sole proprietors to the largest firm, and it is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.” Although the article is based on US information, it’s findings apply to many other countries as well.

Read more
How Will You Pay for Generative AI?

An article, sponsored by IBM, In the FEI Canada’s December edition of F.A.R., points out that across Canada and around the world, C-suite leaders know that making the right investments in generative AI could deliver a strategic advantage that pays significant dividends for years to come. “CFOs are on the lookout for ways to accelerate the business value of generative AI – while understanding the investment it demands and the risks it introduces. Although generative AI is currently just a fraction of total AI spend, it is expected to grow nearly four times over the next few years.”

Read more
Water Security: Accounting for Water

Water security is vital for humans, agriculture, industries and regional economic growth – and accountants can play a key role in the future of water and how we use it. INTHEBLACK, CPA Australia’s newsletter, has an article by Amanda Woodard that says “economic growth is a thirsty business. Water is essential to grow food, build businesses and boost GDP. However, questions are being asked about how best to account for this increasingly scarce resource.”

Woodard points out that, each year, more than 4 trillion cubic liters of water are extracted from the planet’s water basins. Of that, 70% goes to agriculture, 19% to industry and 11% to households. “Water security has, therefore, become a serious concern for about two-thirds of businesses across the globe, either directly or in their value chains.”

Read more
Managers Are Having Trouble Finding Finance and Accounting Talent

According to recent research by Robert Half on U.S. hiring and employment trends, 63% of financial managers seek to recruit candidates for new jobs, while 33% aim to staff vacated positions. In either case, U.S. employers are looking to staff millions of positions: Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that 8.8 million jobs were open on the last business day of July. Percentages in Canada are undoubtedly similar.

Most managers we surveyed — 93% — report having challenges finding the skilled professionals they need. Employers may soon have access to a more expansive pool of talent, though. In a recent Robert Half survey of U.S. workers, 25% of respondents said they are actively seeking a new role, and another 24% plan to launch a job search by year-end.

Read more
Data Observability vs. Data Quality

An article in the latest Data Administration Newsletter says that “worldwide data volume will reach 175 zettabytes by 2025, unlocking massive business growth opportunities. However, as the volume of data continues to surge, ensuring its accuracy and reliability becomes crucial and challenging. That’s where data quality and observability can prove to be a game-changer. Both share the common goal of ensuring data’s reliability, trustworthiness, and value to foster accurate decision-making in organizations.”

According to the article, data quality measures the appropriateness of data to serve a specific purpose. It comprises several best practices, such as data profiling, cleansing and more, to ensure it meets specific standards for accuracy, consistency, completeness and validity. Its main goal is to foster accurate decision making for organizations by maintaining data health.

Read more
ESG Becomes Top Priority for Finance Leaders

A new global report shows that ESG considerations are top of mind for finance leaders and that technical debt is holding back companies’ plans to innovate. A recent article in FM Financial Management says that, according to the 2023 Global Finance Trends Survey Report by consulting firm Protiviti, "ESG metrics and measurement" is the top priority for both public and private company CFOs and finance leaders in the coming year. Protiviti surveyed more than 900 finance leaders worldwide. ESG metrics ranked 14th on the list of priorities the previous year.

Read more
AI & Intelligent Automation Disrupting Business

Stathis Gould, Director, Member Engagement at the International Federation of Accountants, writes in an article posted on IFAC’s Knowledge Gateway that “by embracing AI and automation, finance and accounting professionals are simplifying and automating repetitive rule-based tasks and work practices, optimizing end-to-end processes and focusing on delivering meaningful insights to guide decision making.” 

Gould points out that “deployed together, generative AI and other intelligent automation capabilities provide a more powerful combination to increase the quality and speed of work. Generative AI complements developments in intelligent automation to deliver significant productivity gains in the coming years.”

Read more
Global CEOs Grappling with Multiple Challenges

Geopolitics and broader political uncertainty are now the greatest risk to business growth, according to a survey of more than 1,300 CEOs of the world’s largest businesses. The KPMG 2023 CEO Outlook reveals geopolitics and political uncertainty have become the leading perceived risk this year for senior executives — concerns that didn’t even make the top five in the 2022 survey.

While confidence in the global economic outlook over the next three years remains broadly unchanged since last year’s survey (73 percent compared to 71 percent last year), there has been a significant shift across CEOs’ views on what constitutes a risk to their business.

Over three quarters of CEOs (77 percent) say rising interest rates and tightening monetary policies could risk or prolong the threat of a global recession. Meanwhile, over three in four CEOs (77 percent) believe that cost of living pressures are likely to have a negative impact on their organization's prosperity over the next three years.

The persistent flux in global politics, trade dynamics and international relations has compelled CEOs to reassess their strategic priorities and demonstrate resilience in navigating the intricate interplay of global political forces.

According to the survey, CEOs are increasingly steadfast in their support of pre-pandemic ways of working, with a majority (64 percent) predicting a full return to in-office work within the next three years. An overwhelming 87 percent of CEOs surveyed express a likelihood of linking financial reward and promotion opportunities to a return to in-office working practices. 

Despite a year of polarizing debate surrounding the term ESG, CEOs recognize that delivering against the environmental, social and governance issues remains an integral part of their business operations and long-term corporate strategies. This is supported by 69 percent of CEOs who have embedded ESG into their business as a means of value creation.

Reflecting a shift in awareness and dialogue on ESG, 35 percent of CEOs have changed the language they use to refer to ESG both internally and externally. This signals a trend toward CEOs getting more specific about each aspect of the acronym and prioritizing their efforts where they can have the most impact.

CEOs believe that they are still a few years away from seeing a return on their ESG investment. Those surveyed believe that ESG will have the greatest impact over the next three years on their customer relationships, brand reputation and M&A strategy.

CEOs understand that their role continues to be increasingly driven by public and investor pressure, with 64 percent believing that, as trust in some institutions decline, the public expects business to fill the void of societal changes.

The findings show that CEOs are continuing to invest heavily in generative AI in search of a competitive edge for the future, listing the technology as a top investment priority in the medium term. Seventy percent of CEOs agree that generative AI remains high on their list of priorities, with most (52 percent) expecting to see a return on their investment in three to five years.

Despite a willingness to push forward with their investments, CEOs cited ethical challenges as their number one concern in terms of the implementation of generative AI. The cost of implementation was ranked second (55 percent) and a lack of regulation and technical capability were jointly third (50 percent).

According to Bill Thomas, Global Chair and CEO of KPMG International, “what I find reassuring is that, despite the many macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges right now, mid-term global confidence remains relatively robust. There’s a consensus that we can, in time, return to a path of international, sustainable long-term growth. For CEOs — the opportunity to drive a return to a more equitable, successful planet is right in front of us. The key to success will be an unrelenting focus on long-term, strategic planning and commitment to avoid the danger of short-term, reactive leadership, which is always a threat during a period of deep uncertainty."

For more, go to 2023 CEO Outlook - KPMG Global.

CPA Founding Partner

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), one of the largest national accounting organizations in the world, has chosen to become a founding partner of ThinkTwenty20.