Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) recently led discussions on technical topics and shared tips on soft skills development at the Grand Millennium Hotel Al Wahda in Abu Dhabi.

Business professionals, accountants and auditors gathered in a forum session to keep abreast of the developments that influence the accounting profession and to get updates on technical topics that have an impact to jobs and businesses.

Arnel V. Laigo, President of the host organisation PICPA (Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants) Abu Dhabi Chapter mentioned one significant result of a recent study conducted for accounting professionals.

The result showed an increasing need for not just accounting skills where accountants are burrowed into their computers or desktops but also non-accounting skills such as general business knowledge, IT skills, and communication.

He stressed, “The top skill sets needed for accountants of today would make us globally competitive”. Adding that CPAs play an increasing role as business advisors for they have the ability to communicate an understanding of the industry and the general business knowledge.

In a keynote speech, Vice Consul Norman Padalhin said CPAs abroad play a great part in the Philippines recent investments. He echoed President Aquino’s message that “CPA’s are the financial stewards of our economic welfare that sustained our momentum towards elusive national development.”

The first speaker,  Mylah Langaman who focused on risk-based internal audit said; “Awareness and understanding of strategic and operational risks could provide guidance to every business owners and professionals in order to succeed and provide assurance on areas with the greatest impact on the business.”

On the other challenge, Antonio Gimena Jr, a Finance Educator shared a recent study that UAE expats are greatly unprepared for retirement due to inability to plan financially. According to media reports, 89% of expats were unable to describe their existing savings plans as more than adequate and over 50% said they feared financial hardships in their retirement year.

The result implied that expats need financial advice, which accountants can manage. He also discussed how to combat money laundering and its related issues apart from the myths on money that he shared.

Communication skills is another input that Ana Maria Olerisisimo, the third speaker emphasised on. She said, “For CPAs, it is important to communicate with clarity and objectivity, translate complex information into critical knowledge, anticipate and create opportunities and design pathways that transform vision into reality.”

The role of Auditors in Modern Business Environment was a main topic of Dr Foud Salaam who discussed ways to enhance confidence in financial reporting, how auditors can contribute to quality of financial reporting, valuable assurance to banks and other lenders and on working in the public interest.

There were presentations on soft skills development by companies offering software for accounting related programmes.

The conference culminated with an election of the new set of officers of PICPA Abu Dhabi Chapter for 2013 to 2014 led by Williard Maquirang, incumbent Vice President for Professional Development.