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A4S Academy Programme invites applications for 2023 cohort

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 23 Mar 2023

Programme is designed to fill the gap between sustainability ambitions and the skills and competencies finance teams need to make them a reality.

A development programme designed to help finance leaders move from well-meaning rhetoric to tangible action on sustainability is open for applications for its 2023 intake.

The A4S Academy is an 18-month online learning and implementation programme for senior finance leaders to equip them with the skills needed for their businesses to succeed in the face of environmental and social risks and opportunities.

The programme is designed to help senior finance professionals make a direct impact on their organisation; in addition to five months of live, interactive seminars, participants are supported to develop and deliver a plan with specific objectives that will create a tangible impact in their organisation.

According to the A4S Finance Leaders’ Sustainability Barometer, less than half of those surveyed believed their finance team had the skills and competencies to achieve their corporate sustainability objectives. In addition to equipping participants with technical know-how, the programme also focuses on leadership and influencing skills as well as connecting to resources and a peer network.

Helen Slinger, Executive Director, Knowledge and Training at A4S, said all organisations are facing the challenge of delivering on their sustainability-related goals, and finance teams have an important role to play. “In our recent survey of finance leaders, we found that there is a gap between sustainability ambitions and the work needed to make them a reality. Less than half of those surveyed believed their finance team had the skills and competencies for supporting their objectives. 

“The A4S Academy has been designed with CFOs to bridge this gap. The programme empowers and equips senior finance professionals with the skills needed, and making a direct impact on the organisation is built into the programme.”

Since its launch in 2020, the A4S Academy had participants from 178 organisations from across the globe including Mars, Burberry, Salesforce and Unilever. Its practical focus has struck a chord with participants; 90% of last year’s cohort said the Academy had made a direct impact on embedding sustainability in their organisations within a year.

Mark Kaye, Chief Financial Officer at Moody’s, said: “The access and insights on offer from the A4S Academy are essential for any finance professionals looking at how to embed sustainability. It’s through initiatives like this that the profession will maintain relevance and shape the future.”

Richard Spencer, Director, Sustainability at ICAEW, said: “ICAEW has long argued for the central role professional accountants will play in achieving the transition to a low-carbon, nature-positive and fair world. Our Sustainability Certificate is a starting point and opens the door to building your competency; the A4S Academy is a great next step to deepening your practice.”

Adam Birt, Head of Qualifications, Strategy and Development at ICAEW, said the time had come for accountants to move beyond simply measuring and reporting on sustainability issues such as climate change. “To ensure a viable business they need to focus on understanding the implications of these issues and integrating them into financial management and business planning. 

“The role of the ACA is to contribute toward creating ICAEW chartered accountants who recognise that sustainability is at the core of what they do and are capable of actively using their business skills to analyse how to make the new sustainable economy work for their business and the public interest.”

Find full details about the A4S Academy.

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