ACCA hosts UAE women in finance forum with Deloitte advocates

18 March 2019

Senior finance leaders from across the UAE have assembled for a meeting hosted by the ACCA on developing a collective vision to increase the ratio of women in finance and technology, with Deloitte’s newly elected global chair Sharon Thorne delivering a keynote address.

In an effort to address the ongoing gender gap in the finance and technology sector, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) – one of the world’s largest professional accounting bodies with more than 200,000 members worldwide – has brought together more than 50 senior finance leaders from across the UAE to promote a shared vision in pushing for greater inclusion.

Among others, those assembled heard keynotes from Anthony Hobeika, the CEO of local research and consulting firm MENA Research Partners, as well as Deloitte Middle East Consulting CEO Tim Parr, and Deloitte’s long-time diversity advocate and newly elected global chair Sharon Thorne, who when she takes over in June will become the first woman in the firm’s history to hold the position.

Also present was noted Deloitte diversity champion, Rana Ghandour Salhab, and Cynthia Corby, Deloitte Middle East Audit Director of Operations and Chair of the UAE Women in Finance Forum, who was last year named by Forbes as one of the 100 most influential women in the Middle East. “In the UAE and wider Middle East, we have seen a higher percentage of women going through the education cycle, however when we look at this transition into the workplace, we don’t see a reflective rate,” Corby said.ACCA hosts women in finance forum in UAE with leading Deloitte advocatesAccording to an ACCA report released prior to the event, women account for only 17 percent of all executive finance roles in the UAE, and hold just 2 percent of board-level positions across the GCC. Corby continues; “Business leaders need to ensure this talent is not lost, in order to truly lead diverse organisations which go beyond the numbers. Promotion of sustainable practices that encourages people of all cultures and ages to participate in all opportunities which are provided to those who demonstrate the ambition, drive, ability and dedication are paramount, so they can share their different perspectives and challenge our thinking and we can all thrive in our professional lives.”

As highlighted by the ACCA, the Women in Finance Forum coincides with the 100th anniversary of Ethel Ayres Purdie’s election as an associate to the London Association of Accountants, a founding organisation of ACCA – the first woman to be admitted to the membership of a professional accounting body. For the ACCA’s part, nearly half of the organisation’s members are now women, along with 55 percent of its senior staff and an even share of its executive.

“ACCA was established specifically to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds, based solely on their ability, said Helen Brand, ACCA’s chief executive. “We believe that it’s every organisation’s responsibility to support diversity and to review and revise the way they support and open up opportunities to women – and indeed all other under-represented groups. Opportunity and diversity are two of our core values that continue to guide our work today.”

In terms of developing a shared vision to tackle gender imbalance in the financial services industry, Corby believes now is perfect time to act. “With the changing role of finance and increased emphasis on technology, it presents an opportune time to drive a collective vision, which with the use of algorithms, blockchain and innovative tech can support in reducing biased decision making in the recruitment and progression processes within organisations.”

Related: Deloitte's Rana Ghandour Salhab named champion of diversity on global list.

ACCA hosts conference on technology in the Middle East finance sector

29 March 2019

The ACCA has hosted a regional conference on technology and innovation in the Middle East finance sector, with the inaugural event featuring leaders from Grant Thornton, Accenture, and Deloitte among a range of speakers.

Following its recent women in finance forum in Dubai, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has hosted its inaugural Techovate Regional Conference, bringing together senior ACCA members and key stakeholders to discuss the impact of technology and innovation on the finance sector in the Middle East – with some of the region’s leading consultants among the speakers.

“In a bid to eradicate the myth and preconception of technology, we have been working on distilling the impact which technology will have for our members and wider commercial society, alongside aligning our approach to the regional innovation strategy which will see the UAE become the smartest in the world by 2030,” said ACCA Middle East director Lindsay Degouve de Nuncques.

Degouve de Nuncques’ opening address was followed by a keynote presentation from Accenture’s MENA digital lead Xavi Anglada (who also appeared at the recent World Mobile Conference as well as last year’s Artificial Intelligence Week in the Middle East) – who prior to joining Accenture served as the CEO of Cash Credit, a Delta Partners-backed fintech start-up providing micro-finance services.ACCA hosts conference on technology in the Middle East finance sectorOther speakers from the consulting realm included Deloitte Middle East senior Audit & Assurance partner Cynthia Corby (last year named by Forbes as one of the 100 most influential women in the Middle East), and Grant Thornton Transformation Advisory Partner George Stoyanov, who spoke on unlocking value through tech transformation and big data, AI and analytical benchmarking.

A near twenty-year consulting veteran in the region, with extensive experience in corporate governance, risk management and internal audit serving the financial services industry, Stoyanov prior to joining Grant Thornton in 2017 was a director in EY’s financial services advisory division out of Abu Dhabi, before which he served as a director with PwC’s Risk Assurance Services practice in Kuwait.

Attendees also heard from Joy Ajlouny, who together with BCG alumnus Idriss Al Rifai co-founded Fetchr, as well as Pierre Arman, Market Development Lead for Tax and Accounting with Thomson Reuters, Mansoor Sarwar, a director with enterprise software firm Sage, and Sayd Farook, a doctor in behavioural economics and adviser to the office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“Great discussions on how technology and digital are disrupting the financial services industry at ACCA Techovate Conference in Dubai,” wrote Anglada in a follow-up post on LinkedIn. “From an inspiring and personal view from Joy Ajlouny throughout her entrepreneurship journey, to the visionary PoV on innovation from Sayd Farook, helping shape Dubai's future, to many other key leaders in the banking space.”