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Professional quotients and competencies for accountants in a world of unprecedented change

How do we define the needed skills, behaviors and attitudes to perform jobs effectively? How do we know if an individual qualifies for the job or not?

Some people think formal education matters while others believe training and experience are more important. People also argue that personal characteristics hold the key to adopting effective work behavior. Although all these are important, none seems enough to define the ideal set of behaviors and traits needed for a job.

To improve a person’s work skills, a more comprehensive approach to linking individual performance to the business’ objectives calls for the use of a “competency framework.”

What is a competency framework?

A competency framework is a valuable tool that defines the comprehensive set of knowledge, skills, judgement and attributes an individual needs to work in a specific occupational role. Competency describes the behavior behind a person’s competent performance in the workplace.

In the accountancy profession, this framework captures what successful and effective practitioners do and deliver across every aspect and specialism of their work.

This framework, developed by the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) defines 12 competency areas. Each is designed to strengthen and support the profession, and support the career development of accountancy and finance professionals.

In a nutshell, this framework is a professional toolkit for accountants, a blueprint they can use to develop all 12 competencies throughout their career. The framework comprehensively sets how accountancy and finance professionals can add sustained value to their organizations today and in the future.

Recently, the ACCA published “Professional Accountants – The Future,” a report outlining key drivers of change and the future skills of accountants in public practice. In it, the association listed seven professional quotients required for future accountants.

The seven professional quotients for success

Professional quotients (PQs) refer to behaviors and qualities required of an ACCA-qualified accountant to meet the future needs and demands of his or her profession. These are professional skills gained not only through ACCA qualification, but also enhanced as an individual’s career progresses.

Accountants will need to balance their professional quotients to fit their roles at specific stages of their career. Each accountant’s PQ will reflect his or her competency and skills across seven constituent areas:

– Technical skills and ethics quotient. These are skills and abilities needed to perform activities according to a defined standard while maintaining integrity, independence and positive skepticism.

– Creative quotient. This is the ability to use existing knowledge in a new situation, make connections, explore potential outcomes and generate new ideas.

– Digital quotient. This refers to the awareness and application of existing and emerging digital technologies, capabilities, practices and strategies.

– Emotional intelligence quotient. This is the ability to identify one’s own emotions and others, harness and apply them to tasks, and regulate and manage them.

– Experience quotient. This refers to the ability and skills needed to understand customer expectations, meet desired outcomes and create value while at it.

– Intelligence quotient. This is the ability to acquire and use knowledge, thinking and reasoning, and solve problems.

– Vision quotient. This is the ability to anticipate future trends accurately by extrapolating existing trends and facts, and filling the gaps by thinking innovatively.

The accountant of the future
The world is in a period of unprecedented change — one that will affect the role of accountants moving forward — that would enable them to become leaders, trusted expert counsels and key strategic advisors to public and private organizations.

With this transformation comes the need to possess a whole new set of skills. On top of technical excellence, accountancy and finance professions now require creativity, emotional intelligence and the vision to lead.

Accountants must focus on tools relevant to the evolution of their career. These tools are developed by accountants as they undergo relevant continuing professional development (CPD). Those who do not revisit and reinvent their skills set run the risk of being left behind.

P&A Grant Thornton Academy, in collaboration with ACCA, designed a learning pathway to help individuals and organizations reinvent their career strategies by focusing on the professional quotients accountants need to adapt to change.

The pathway is based on the results of the aforementioned report on professional accounts, which identified four major drivers of change: regulation and governance, digital technologies, expectations, and globalization. Together, these drivers will help redefine accountants’ roles in the future.

In the context of Covid-19, we sought the educational technology expertise of the ExP Group, a United Kingdom-based platinum electronic-learning provider, to deliver remote learning to students and professionals in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

These global partnerships are part of P&A Grant Thornton’s initiative to foster learning and development in the most effective and cost-efficient way.

In conclusion, the future accountant will need an optimal and evolved combination of professional competencies: a collection of technical knowledge, skills, and abilities, combined with interpersonal behaviors and qualities. With technology, individuals can be empowered to develop themselves through financial expertise and organizations can improve their performance through enhanced human capital. Ultimately, this would lead to communities and families reaping the benefits.

Jess Obana is the head of ACCA programs and a senior managing consultant of the Advisory Services Division of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading auditing, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines with 22 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter: @GrantThorntonPH. “Like” us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton. Email your comments to or For more information, visit


As published in The Manila Times, dated 03 March 2021