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Real Business : Autumn 2008
PHOTOLIBRARY GET A JOB TOMORROW assets, such as the intellectual capital gener- ated by the capture of business processes," he says. Hammond believes digital worlds will change the face of business, with meetings and transactions being conducted in environ- ments such as Second Life. "New value will be created in these virtual worlds, and new methods of accounting will be required to assess these," he predicts. The traditional, "counting house" functions will not necessarily be done in the same country. Most experts agree that the current trend towards outsourcing the more techni- cal, processing-type accounting work will continue, but that this only means better opportunities for sought-after finance pro- fessionals. Bernard Salt, KPMG partner and demographer, says the environment is ripe for finance professionals to use the freeing up of their time to their advantage. "India is particularly good at reproducing in volume a particular task, in the same way that China is particularly good at reproducing on a vast scale a particular widget that has been designed somewhere else," Salt says. "This is the mark of developing economies in the early decade of the 21st century. What they don't have is the design capabilities, the creative, intellectual responses that only come with industry depth and an under- Twenty years ago, there was no such thing as the internet and Google wasn't a verb. Over the past few years, the proliferation of virtual networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook has astounded even their geeky developers. And five years ago, we could have been forgiven for not seriously considering using an energy- saving light bulb when we changed our globes. So what will our world look like 20 years from now, and how will this impact on the finance and accou nting professions? As history tells us, it can be very difficult to predict what's in store, particularly given the speed at which new virtual industries can flourish in a limitless, global network. However, some of the experts are willing to take a punt. European futurologist Ray Hammond expects the finance profession to evolve over the next 20 years and play a critical role in a burgeoning global economy grappling with a popu- lation explosion, climate crisis and a looming energy crisis. "In 2030, the profession will be far more concerned with assessing and auditing intangible PEOPLE WHAT WILL FINANCE LOOK LIKE IN 2030, AND WHERE WILL THE EXCITING JOBS BE? DIANA ELLIOTT INVESTIGATES standing of the particular issues." Nicole Gorton, consultant with Robert Half Finance, agrees that companies will increasingly look to finance pro- fessionals to help drive the strategic direction of a business. "Demand will continue around the analyti- cal areas, like business analyst, financial analyst and com- mercial analyst," she says. The skills demanded won't change dramatically over the next 20 years, Gorton says, but there will be a sizeable shift in emphasis. "Right now, people are dabbling in compliance," she says. "But I don't think we're anywhere near what it's going to be like in 20 years. The onus on accountants to ensure the financials comply with inter- national accounting standards and the scrutiny around that is going to be heightened from where it is today." And while now there is a complex, predominantly localised patchwork of compliance regulations, globalisation will create a seamless way of working across interna- tional boundaries. Business and economic com- mentator Robert Gottliebsen says to expect a harmo- nisation of rules 26 REAL BUSINESS AUTUMN 2008