Bangladesh does not have enough qualified accountants and finance professionals to match the huge demand with the country's growing economy, said top accounting professionals.
"The job market for certified accountants is getting bigger day by day with a growing demand in the private sector. From auditing to accounting, manufacturing to trading, every industry needs accountants. However, we do not have enough accounting professionals, which has created a demand and supply gap," Dr Md Hamid Ullah Bhuiyan, chairman of Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Bangladesh, said on Thursday at the "Future of Accounting and Finance Profession" event.
Two online career portals, ACCA Careers and ACCA Career Navigator were launched during the event, set up by The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Bangladesh.
Dr Hamid, in his speech as chief guest, said "We are now getting more accountants every year from universities and the Institute of Chartered Accountant Bangladesh (ICAB), ACCA, than we used to, but the real issue is producing top-quality accounting professionals."
The two new job portals, launched at the event, will help accounting and finance professionals look for jobs, and help employers find the right candidates.
The ACCA is a global professional accounting body with over 2.33 lakh fully certified members and over 5.33 lakh students around the world.
However, at present there are only 450 ACCA members and 5000 plus ACCA students in Bangladesh, according to information made available at the event.
The FRC chairman said, "In a business, I want people who have better knowledge of digitalisation, but we find that there are many students who have little idea about the term."
Further explaining the issue, he said, "If I want to hire an accountant from Dhaka University, which is producing many good accountants, we have found they have the very minimum understanding of relevant software. But, from accounting to finance, everything is now software-based.
Recent data indicates that the hiring of accounting and finance professionals is trending upward all over the world, which essentially opens the door for qualified accountants to land a job anywhere in the world.
According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030. Around 1,35,000 openings for accountants and auditors are projected for each year on average over the decade.
Speakers at the event discussed the demand and supply gap in the profession, and its future trend in the digital age.
Speaking about the government's initiative of 100 special economic zones by 2025, speakers said local and international investors will set up different types of industries in the economic zones, which will create a huge demand for qualified accountants.
Arif-Al Islam, MD and CEO, Summit Communications Ltd, said, "Bangladesh is a country with a huge economy now. The private sector is booming, and a lot of development projects are running. Compared to what we need, the number of available accounting professionals is not enough."
Mr Arif, who is also chairman of the ACCA Bangladesh Member Advisory Committee, said "Our neighbouring countries and countries with GDPs close to Bangladesh, have 10-15 times more accountants than us. The number of accountants in Bangladesh is around 15000, and there is a lack of qualified accountants."
He urged the ACCA and local bodies to take steps to develop more qualified accountants and work on filling the knowledge gap of professionals.
Hasan Haidar, a financial expert, said, "In different projects, there is one position for a financial expert. But we don't see many Bangladeshi experts in such positions as most companies recruit them from India or Africa. So, we also need more financial experts."
Tariqul Haque, chief consultant, Enroute Management Consulting, said ACCA training and classes should expand out of Dhaka so that students get the opportunity to study and become chartered accountants to help meet the growing demand for such professionals.
Among others, Nigel Bicknell, head of ACCA Careers; Nilusha Ranasinghe, head of ACCA South Asia; Michael Schwoerke, head of ACCA Marketing Planning (Employability); Micky Lynch, qualification education liaison manager, ACCA; Prawma Tapashi Khan, head of education & member affairs, ACCA Bangladesh; Seezan M Choudhury, partner, ACE Advisory; Mohammad Tanvir Hossain, CFO, Somatec Pharmaceuticals Ltd; Yusha Khondker, founder, HeadStart; Mohsena Munna, financial controller, Startup Bangladesh Ltd; and Riaduzzaman Ridoy, MD, Padma Bank Securities Ltd, spoke at the event.
Shah Waliul Manzoor, senior business development manager (learning), ACCA Bangladesh, moderated the event, of which The Business Standard was the media partner.