Kaplan Learning Institute is helping accountants future-proof their skillset. Here’s how

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Digitisation is transforming the business landscape creating new opportunities and challenges. As a result, it is more important than ever that accountants and other professionals in the financial sector ensure their skills are up to par.

The award-winning Kaplan Learning Institute has launched a series of contextualised courses to do just that. In the “Digital Proficiency for Accounting and Finance Professionals”, the course aims to help those in the sector broaden their knowledge.

The subjects covered are based on Kaplan’s International Computer Driving Licence courses. They range from becoming competent with Excel and basic spreadsheet functions, right through to understanding the key concepts of data security.

Faye Chua, ACCA Head of Business Insights, explains: “Professional accountants must maintain their technical excellence and strong ethical grounding, and supplement this with certain personal skills and qualities.”

In line with the growing importance of data, Kaplan also offers higher-level courses in this area to help professionals make the best use of information.

Its contextualised “Perform Advanced Spreadsheet Functions” module teaches professionals basic database creation and management, enabling them to pinpoint key data quicker, provide more sharply defined analysis and more sophisticated reports.

It is also crucial for today’s professionals to have adept communication skills, enabling them to address the age-old stereotype that data presentations, especially those given by accountants, are too technical.

With this in mind, Kaplan has also customised the “Perform Advanced Presentation Functions" module to help professionals plan and design more effective presentations in order for them to make a greater impact.

It covers the skills needed to customise layouts, manipulate images, charts and graphs, and even incorporate sophisticated multimedia elements. Another important skill that is likely to become increasingly relevant in the digital age is online collaboration.

The “Perform Online Collaboration” module walks students through the key concepts relating to online collaboration and cloud computing, from setting up accounts to using online storage and web-based productivity applications, to interacting through social networks, blogs and wikis.

But digital literacy is not the only skill that will be needed in the economy of the future.

While accounting and finance professionals have long been respected for their business insights, ethical grounding and ability to help drive growth in organisations, they now need to add new skills to their repertoire to create further value for their clients.

Kaplan has a long-standing partnership with the ACCA to help accountants and finance professionals not only pass their industry exams, but also to keep abreast of changes in the rapidly developing sector.

Damien O’Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer, ICDL Foundation, says: “The accountants and finance professionals are at the forefront of digital transformation and are embracing new developments in the area of artificial intelligence and data analytics. Working in partnership with ACCA gives us valuable insights into a fast-changing work environment and with the support of Kaplan we can ensure the best solution is provided.”

Following research by ACCA into the skills likely to be needed by the accountant of the future, Kaplan has also customised two Leadership & People Management Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) to provide accountants with the management skills they need to stay ahead in their field.

In its research, ACCA identified seven professional quotients that it believes will be essential in the future, namely vision, creativity, intelligence, emotional intelligence, experience and digital capability, all underpinned by strong technical and ethical competencies.

Kaplan’s programmes not only equip accountants with these skills, but also enable them to gain formal recognition for their competencies within a nationally recognised framework, while also counting towards their Continued Professional Development (CPD).

ACCA members and other professional accountants can use the courses to help meet their annual CPD requirements, with each hour of training typically equating to one CPD unit.

“WSQ Professional Diploma in Leadership and People Management” is aimed at accounting and finance professionals working in executive, supervisory and mid-managerial levels. It is also open to ACCA graduates who do not yet have professional experience.

There is no fixed timeline in which the programme must be completed, offering maximum flexibility for professionals to study while they are working.

Each module requires two days of training, and students themselves decide how many training modules they want to complete, subject to availability.

The “WSQ Specialist Diploma in Leadership and People Management” is a similar programme aimed at professionals working in senior management, heads of department, or directors.

Each module requires 1.5 to two days of training, with professionals again given flexibility on the timeline and number of modules they take.

Wayne Marriott, Executive Director, Kaplan Learning Institute (Singapore), says: “Leadership skills contribute to an organisation’s success. That’s why we are infusing our leadership and people management programmes with the seven quotients to help accountants make effective decisions at all levels.”