Việt Nam - the priority of ACCA

August 30, 2023 - 15:24
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, which has enabled more than 233,000 members and 536,000 students in 178 countries develop successful careers in accounting and business. ACCA has been working in Việt Nam for many years. Its chief executive, Helen Brand, OBE, talks about the country’s accounting and auditing industry and ACCA’s plans in the country.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, which has enabled more than 233,000 members and 536,000 students in 178 countries develop successful careers in accounting and business. ACCA has been working in Việt Nam for many years. Its chief executive, Helen Brand, OBE, talks about the country’s accounting and auditing industry and ACCA’s plans in the country.

Helen Brand, chief executive of The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Welcome back to Việt Nam! Please tell us what you are doing in the country this time.

I've been in Việt Nam many times. The country has been on a very clear upward economic trajectory thanks to the Government’s strategies to develop the economy and make it sustainable.

I very much enjoy being here for business.

One of my big activities during this trip was the signing of an MoU with the Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises to improve human resources of financial accounting and auditing sector at small and medium-sized enterprises.

Working with VINASME, we hope to be able to develop the financial competence of SME owners, which I think would be a massive contribution to the Vietnamese economy.

We also had a conference in HCM City which was called "Driving Sustainable Businesses - Creating a Better World." The conference was linked to ACCA's global theme of “Accounting for a Better World”. This is another development in the focus on sustainable business practices and the role that the accounting profession can play in that.

We're very pleased to work with our partners here in Việt Nam to talk about how professional accountants can help businesses plan their strategies in terms of sustainability, impact, and reporting. It's not just about reporting on sustainability activity but actually embedding the change that's needed in businesses.

We're talking about things like the use of natural capital, the impact on the environment - carbon emissions, the impact on society, and how businesses treat their people.

During the conference, we discussed what that means in terms of business reporting and investment, and how investment can be attracted to sustainable businesses in the future.

We were also pleased to progress even further our partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs' Directorate of Vocational Education and Training (DVET). With DVET, we had a celebration of the signed MoU we have with them to embed ACCA foundations through the diploma in accounting and business into vocational colleges throughout Việt Nam.

In addition, we also organised a launch event to support colleges to update, integrate and integrate ACCA's Diploma in Accounting and Business into the accounting college training program. I believe that applying the Diploma certificate to the curriculum will be the foundation for continuing to promote and expand the program to other colleges across the country.

Finally, I visited the National Economics University (NEU), a very prestigious university here in Việt Nam, and we've been working with them for almost 20 years. We've seen many very successful graduates of NEU who have also become ACCA members, working successfully in business in Viet Nam and globally.

We've taken that relationship one step further with an ACCA Bound Programme, where students will achieve the degree and ACCA qualification simultaneously, which we think will enhance their competence and employability and strengthen relationships with employers, particularly in Hà Nội.

What is your advice for Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises?

Number one is having a plan. I think a lot of SMEs have great ideas and are very innovative, but they are not always well-structured.

We find that basic things like cash flow aren't embedded and planned.

Using a small-medium practice to advise the SME is a worthwhile investment to have that financial plan and understand how you're going to become sustainable. Over time, it's about making sure that you're investing in the right capability in your business to be sustainable.

What is Việt Nam's role in ACCA strategy plans this year?

We absolutely see Việt Nam as a priority. It's very interesting that the UK government also has Việt Nam as a priority for its trade and investment globally.

We've been working in Việt Nam for over 20 years and we've seen all the members who have qualified here rise to important positions within businesses in Việt Nam and around the world as they've taken opportunities to work in other countries.

You can feel the ambition and the economic development in the country now, particularly, and also that the Government is actively calling for alignment with international standards for international qualifications to complement the local provision.

ACCA is ideally placed to respond to that. We've been investing in a team and supporting the market, including development and support for our technical partners, education, employers, and our community of members and future members.

Ultimately, the quality of our members and the students who become members is what represents ACCA, and the value they deliver to employers is how we will be judged in the long term.

So we work very hard to support everybody to ensure that members are developing lifelong learning.

There are so many issues like sustainability, technology, and other market-related issues where we have to keep educating and training our members and future members.

We do that through our work in Việt Nam but also through our global provision, much of which is delivered digitally now, and that's a great benefit.

I am here because Việt Nam is important.

The ACCA’s theme is Accounting for a Better World. How can accounting make the world a better place?

The world of business provides a lot of employment opportunities and wealth creation. Businesses are also using natural resources and human resources, making them important contributors to the stability and sustainability of society.

So if the planet is facing a challenge, business is facing a challenge, and business has to play its part in planning for a more sustainable future.

I think that professional accountants, with their long history of ethical behavior at the core of what a professional accountant is, coupled with the ability to collect and report on data and analyse that data and be accountable, will now play a broader role in value creation.

It's not only the right thing to do from an ethical point of view, as we all want a sustainable planet to live in, but also from a business longevity point of view.

If businesses do not address those issues, they will not survive. They will not have the resources they need, the investment they need, or the people they need working for them.

Professional accounting plays a critical role in helping to form strategies to ensure that the data within the organisation is integrated with the financial data and that they report to stakeholders, investors, the public, and regulators on performance. It's a transformation of the role of the professional accountant. — VNS