Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Beyond Accounting: CIMA Professionals Are Best Qualified for the Increasingly Important Challenge of Measuring Non-Financial Factors, Writes Charles Tilley

Magazine article Financial Management (UK)

Beyond Accounting: CIMA Professionals Are Best Qualified for the Increasingly Important Challenge of Measuring Non-Financial Factors, Writes Charles Tilley

Article excerpt

I am delighted that the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has teamed up formally with the Prince of Wales's Accounting for Sustainability project (A4S) by signing a memorandum of understanding. In their joint statement they declare that "perhaps the most critical challenge facing business and society generally is to live within our ecological limits while continuing to enjoy economic prosperity. IFAC and A4S believe that an essential part of the answer lies in going beyond traditional ways of thinking about performance and embedding sustainability into strategy, governance, performance management and reporting processes."

Few would disagree with that. And, as Robert Bunting, IFAC's president, states, professionals accountants play a key role in achieving it, especially when it comes to ensuring accountability and measuring results.

A core A4S idea is that an orthodox balance sheet omits a huge amount of information. Where is the explanation of the business model and how sustainable it is? How is it made clear that the company's bonus structures are aligned with its long-term strategy? And where is the data about the business's impact on the environment, the workforce and the wider community?

The first thing that strikes me about this matter is that it's becoming ever more important to measure a whole range of non-financial factors; the second is that management accountants are better placed than anyone else in the profession to do it.

This is not simply about green issues. …

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