The accounts and finance department of a business always plays a crucial role. If an organisation does not have skilled professionals there, it becomes hard for the business and its other departments like marketing, human resources, production, research and director to run and operate smoothly.
Abdullah Al Hasan, a marketing professional with experience in telecommunications, digital marketing, advertising and service industry, said this.
Currently Mr Hasan is the marketing manager and head of marketing for Bangladesh at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). He started his career in Grameenphone after graduating from North South University. He then joined Magnito Digital Ltd as a content manager and editor. After Magnito, he worked for Asiatic Mindshare Limited as a content manager. He joined ACCA Bangladesh in 2019.
The Financial Express interviewed Abdullah Al Hasan to know about ACCA, his career journey, current role and marketing approach to promoting professional qualifications in Bangladesh. Excerpts of the interview are given below.
The Financial Express (FE): How did your journey start with ACCA?
Answer (A): As a marketing professional, I have always wanted to work in different industries. This is to know how things work in other sectors. So, when I got a chance to work for ACCA, I immediately took it. One of the key reasons was ACCA is the largest global body for professional accountants which was founded in the UK in 1904. The long and prestigious history of ACCA gives an exposure to different stakeholders worldwide, be it public or private. It is amazing to see how a professional accountancy body has been there in the global market for such a long time and creating sought-after accounting and finance professionals every year. Promoting the benefits of ACCA brings immense joy to my heart. It is like serving a good cause. It is an industry I never worked in before. There are a lot of things to explore here.
FE: What are your key responsibilities?
A: We want to reach out to the people who are interested in building a career in accounting and finance. My role is about communicating the right brand message and benefits to our target group. ACCA is a demanding qualification. It started its operations in Bangladesh back in 2008. But I still feel like there is an information gap among the target group. Though the ultimate decision comes from our potential students and their parents, I just don't want to miss out on the opportunity to make them aware of the qualification. It's more about informing them of what we offer and how we can contribute. Contemplating a qualification is a decision of a lifetime. I love to invite people to discover what ACCA is. It then becomes easier to decide. We have started working on promoting joint collaboration opportunities. Some reputed universities are in the pipeline to be onboarded too.
FE: How does ACCA help create skilled resources?
A: The accounts and finance department of a business always plays a crucial role. If we don't have skilled professionals there, it becomes hard for the business and its other departments like marketing, human resources, production, research and development to run and operate smoothly. ACCA prepares its members in such a way that they are well aware of the current market trends to take timely decisions and ensure sustainability of an organization. The syllabus of ACCA has always been updated based on the idea of leadership, ethical values, current industry knowledge, demands and a sustainable approach. Apart from ACCA's syllabus, we always prioritise developing our students and members with a continuous learning approach, both professionally and personally. We offer workshops and short courses so that they are never out of the learning process. We believe, even if a student passes all the papers of ACCA and becomes a member, there are still areas to explore in this fast-changing world.
FE: How can someone join ACCA and become a member?
A: Anyone can join ACCA right after their HSC/A-levels/graduation. For accounting and finance graduates, there are exemptions available. After completing all the ACCA papers and gathering three years of relevant experience, an ACCA student becomes a fully-qualified ACCA member. In 2020, we launched the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) qualification in Bangladesh. CAT is an entry-route to the full ACCA qualification and it is designed to create entry-level accountants.
Due to Covid-19, a lot of businesses have shut down their operations. We did a case-based research, talked to different employers and figured out that most of those companies and startups did not have skilled resources to take care of their accounts and finance department. Especially, in a tough time like this. Hiring a full-fledged ACCA member might not be possible for SMEs. So, what's there to do if small businesses cannot afford them? Thinking about this, we came up with a solution. How about creating entry-level skilled accountants who can do the primary job and create a synergy in the accounts and finance department? CAT is the answer. Once a person completes CAT and gathers one year of experience, he/she can start their career immediately. Later, if they want, they can pursue the full ACCA qualification and take up more bigger roles. CAT covers the initial papers of ACCA. So it just becomes a matter of time to complete ACCA.
Besides, with ACCA, students can earn a BSc degree in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University, UK. They do not have to leave Bangladesh for that. And IELTS is not required. All they need to do is just submit a thesis paper to earn the degree. It is a great opportunity.
FE: What do you think about the marketing approach of ACCA and other professional accountancy bodies in Bangladesh?
A: The benefits and career prospects that professional qualifications offer should be reached out to the masses. There are other local reputed accountancy bodies in Bangladesh as well. ACCA always wants to work jointly with them for the greater good. There is a misconception among people that digital transformation or automation is going to kill accounting and finance jobs. We have to change the perception. Fortunately, accountancy bodies are also aware of this. We work on introducing different accounting and finance related software, digital working models, automation related trainings and new ways of work to our students and members. Mutual collaborations among local and global accountancy bodies can facilitate this process more effectively and efficiently.