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2024 - a year of major change

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 02 Jan 2024

Several general elections across the globe have great implications for the profession in 2024. But those are not the only changes that will affect accountants.
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Reflecting on what the next 12 months may hold, ICAEW Chief Executive Michael Izzas says: “As the profound worldwide impacts of the pandemic and pervasive geo-political crises continue to unfold, policy areas of vital interest to the profession and wider business are being affected.

“This, together with advances in AI and challenges around resilience, productivity and a need to accelerate the road to net zero, mean that 2024 is going to be a critical and transformative year for the global economy."

A bumper election year

Next year will be the biggest election year on record, with more than 2bn voters heading to the polls in more than 50 countries. The UK, EU, India, United States and Russia are among the jurisdictions holding general elections in 2024. The outcomes of these elections will have wide ranging geopolitical implications.

People are also watching these elections to see how generative AI will impact the election process. There is concern that it will be used to create more sophisticated forms of misinformation to influence the results.

Productivity is a critical focus

The timing and outcome of the UK election will impact any changes to tax next year. Productivity is a critical focus area for the UK and for ICAEW as well, through its Resilience and Renewal  campaign and conversations with policymakers. ICAEW is pushing for increased access to finance, less complexity in the tax system and promotion of investment. 

“We're at the start of a new chapter in global economic history,” said ICAEW Managing Director, Reputation and Influence, Iain Wright, on a recent Insights podcast. The rise of AI will have a huge transformative effect on the economy, he said, along with a move away from fossil fuels. The UK must be at the forefront of this, he said.

The pandemic and other recent crises have revealed a problem with resilience, with supply chains struggling as a result. “The real story of the last 15 years is poor productivity performance,” said Wright. “What do we do to make sure that we can become more productive? That means more investment in skills, infrastructure and capital. At a time of real tight economic restraint and weak public finances, how are we going to do that?”

The year of the copilot

As we covered last year, we are in the age of the AI copilot. Engine B is launching a new copilot for the profession in March, having introduced its first for the audit profession last October. Microsoft launched its copilot around the same time, Venture capitalists are also prioritising AI copilot startups.

An AI copilot is essentially a generative AI-powered helper tool that can help to automate tasks, analyse large amounts of data and assisting with communications and decision making processes. Generative AI use accelerated over the course of 2023, and these new copilots will tailor the technology to specific sectors and tasks.

“In 2024, I think you'll start to see some of the mist clear around generative AI,” says Wright. “Can AI be used as a way to really drive forward productivity gains without making sure that large swathes of the workforce lose their jobs? That will be a key policy challenge.”

Aligning sustainability standards

The EU CSRD will come into force next year, which will have a wider impact on non-financial disclosures. Those working in organisations with European subsidiaries will need to factor this in. As one of the most prominent sustainability standards in the world, it may set the defacto standard for sustainability reporting.

ICAEW has recommended that the ISSB standards should be adopted as the global baseline for sustainability reporting and that members should support its adoption in all jurisdictions.

Changes at ICAEW

In keeping with the theme of change, ICAEW is undergoing a number of changes at its leadership and governance level.

After 17 years setting the direction of travel for ICAEW, Chief Executive Michael Izza is retiring. Alan Vallance, a Chartered Accountant that has held leadership roles at the Chartered Insurance Institute, Royal Institute of British Architects and the Law Society, will take on the Chief Executive role in Spring 2024.

Peter Wyman CBE was appointed as ICAEW’s first independent board chair last year. In 2024, an entirely new independent board will be appointed in an overhaul of its governance structure.

Since 2010, Wyman has held several non-executive appointments across the private, public and third sectors. He is the Chair of NHS Blood and Transplant and an Independent Non-Executive Director of Pay.UK. He was an ICAEW Council member from 1991 to 2009 and President in 2002-03.

Looking to the future, Izza says: “As a result of our sound stewardship, ambitious strategy and changes internally, I am confident that ICAEW remains in a strong position to invest, adapt and lead on the global transformation we shall see in the coming year.”

Resilience and Renewal

ICAEW Insights examines the economic issues that UK business and chartered accountants are at the centre of tackling to build a better, more resilient future.

building new construction skyscraper crane city ICAEW economy

Further resources

Using generative AI
Using generative AI Generative AI Guide
Using generative AI

Find out what things you should consider when implementing and using generative AI.

Read more
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