Manda Trautwein is Director, Business Advisory, at William Buck Chartered Accountants in Sydney. She also lectures in Applied Finance at Macquarie University.
Trautwein sees a number of challenges facing the profession, with one of the biggest being the fact that compliance work has become largely commoditised. “For us to stay relevant, we need to continue to reinvent ourselves,” she explains.
Technology is reshaping information
Online technology has completely changed the way many CAs work. Trautwein cites the example of some of her older partners who used the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) library to look up multiples for listed companies when doing business valuations in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“Nowadays, of course, all of that information is available at the click of a button through Capital IQ or Bloomberg,” explains Trautwein. “So a lot of the focus has shifted away from gathering information to interpreting and analysing the data.”
She sees other impacts, noting that artificial intelligence will play a much bigger role in accounting over the next 10 years. The result, she says, is that accountants will have to rely more on their people skills and their ability to build relationships with clients and peers.
"A lot more of our interaction will be online through portals and also through communities like My CA."
Trautwein started her career as an undergraduate accountant with one of the big four firms after she turned down an opportunity to become a civil engineer with the army. She started her own business in corporate advisory when she was 24, and then joined William Buck as a director at age 27.
“I did a lot of study; I chose to do a lot of study, because I wanted to have those credentials to support me,” she says. “So after I did my Bachelor of Commerce degree at Macquarie University, I did the CA program. Then I chose to do a Master of Applied Taxation and a Master of Applied Finance degree. That helped me a lot actually, in terms of just creating credibility when I was quite young.”
Trautwein says that when she was younger, she would go into a meeting with a senior partner and much of the conversation would be directed to the partner until the client would pick up her business card and notice that she was well qualified. She wasn’t surprised at the reactions, though.
“I qualified to become a Chartered Accountant when I was about 21 or 22, so I was quite young,” Trautwein says. “Building my own business taught me from a young age to develop my own personal networks and to invest in myself. It also forced me to become accountable at quite a young age.”
Since then she’s been asked to chair CA ANZ's business valuation community and lectures in Applied Finance at Macquarie University in Sydney. While both are important to her, the valuations specialisation is key.
“As valuations become more and more technical, our specialists aim to continue to raise the bar for the profession as a whole, and by engaging the specialist members, the community can be confident in knowing our specialists are adhering to the absolute highest standards,” she says.
“The business valuation community aims to promote members' interests to both Chartered Accountants and to the broader community. We also review standards that get set by standard setters and provide feedback. Recently, we've engaged with Macquarie University to develop research that is specific to Australia — the first ever research of its kind in Australia — around some valuation inputs that we've traditionally not had any data on.”
The network provides many benefits, not least the sharing of information.
“The benefits of being connected in that network is really to share ideas, to get together, to hear technical presentations, and to talk about how we approach different issues,” Trautwein says. “We also have meetings with industry bodies like the Australian Securities and Investments Commission or the Australian Taxation Office, where they present to us on what sorts of things they're looking for, but really it's a great community where we can support each other.
Sharing information through My CA
As a participant in the trial of My CA Community hub, Trautwein says she is hoping that My CA will provide a platform for members to share information, experiences, and help each other solve problems.
“I hope My CA will be a central location where we can go to find materials, like a library,” she notes.
The need to network for knowledge sharing is critical as the world of finance grows more complex. “As business valuations become more technical, our specialists aim to continue to raise the bar for the profession as a whole,” says Trautwein. “By engaging the specialist members, the community can be confident in knowing we are adhering to the absolute highest standards.”
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