UAE: The recently-held Finance Excellence and Leadership Summit in Dubai was attended by more than 400 finance and leadership experts from the region Organised jointly by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Dubai chapter , the event provided valuable insights, practical tools, and personal growth opportunities for financial professionals driving performance in their respective industries.

Finance professionals play a critical role in steering an organisation towards progress and success, specifically amidst emerging challenges and trends. Strategic analysis and decision-making abilities enable them to play an ever-increasingly crucial role in steering businesses to make informed decisions, seize new opportunities, and drive growth.

"The CFO's role has advanced in the past few years and goes far beyond reporting numbers to a board. In today’s world, the  skills and competencies that modern CFOs need are more dynamic than ever. Being able to 'tell a story', communicate at an executive level, contribute meaningfully and contribute to corporate governance are some of the things that set apart the exceptional finance executive today," said Fazeela Gopalani, Head of ACCA Middle East.

With the 360-degree change in taxation in the UAE, one of the discussions focused on the implications of these changes on businesses and how finance professionals can adapt. Shiraz Khan, Partner, Al Tamimi & Company spoke about the implications for businesses and said: “The complexity of a new law increases the significance of the finance role in any organisation, with taxation falling under the finance function in most companies.” 

Digital transformation, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the future of finance functions were some of the summit's highlights. Dunja Poetschke, CFO of Invygo spoke about the importance of balancing traditional finance stewardship with the need to drive innovation. "Failure is important because it is how we learn. Tech companies celebrate failure as the opportunity for learning and development. We too can research Chat-GPT and to ways to harness AI, from areas such as customer experience to data processing.”

For Martin Bradley, CFO of Dulsco, "Innovation and improvement are the drivers in transformation. In finance, you get to see all the moving parts and functions of a company improving that exponentially, connecting dots, and seeing opportunity.”

"Sound financial management has always helped companies navigate out of crises," concluded Michael Deprisco, President & CEO of IMA, reinforcing the importance of finance in a rapidly changing environment. “Fnance and accounting staff are key to making decisions. They have to have a seat at the table – most leaders recognise that.”

Other speakers at the summit included Dr Shashi Tharoor, Indian Diplomat, Former Under Secretary General at the United Nations who sent across a video; Amadou Diallo, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding; Ralph Khoury, CFO at Omnicom Media Group; Rahul Bhandari, CFO at Majid AL Futtaim – Retail, among others.