Liz Fisher, journalist

Finance professionals across the Asia Pacific region are concerned about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on their role and want more support from their employer so they can develop the skills they need for the future workplace, according to a major new survey from ACCA.

Global talent trends 2024 examines the views of almost 10,000 finance professionals in 157 countries and highlights a range of pressures on finance professionals and their employers worldwide as organisations continue to grapple with rapidly evolving technology, changing work practices and the rising cost of living.

Employees in Asia Pacific are more concerned than most about the AI implications for their own job

Tech disquiet

The impact of AI on the workplace and the finance function in particular is a major theme of this year’s survey. Analysis of the regional results show that finance professionals in Asia Pacific are more concerned than most about the implications of AI for their own job.

Globally, 51% of respondents say they are worried about the impact of AI on their role, but this rises to 61% among respondents in China and 58% among respondents in Asia Pacific. Even so, a large majority in all regions believe that AI will enable finance professionals to add more value in the future.

It is clear that respondents across the world feel overwhelmed by the pace of change of technology, with younger generations considerably more anxious than baby boomers.

Stressful times

Problems around work-related stress, anxiety and burnout were highlighted in the 2023 edition of Global talent trends and these have not improved significantly over the past year. 58% of respondents in Asia Pacific say that their mental health suffers because of work pressures and 74% would like more support from their employer; 39% (36% globally) have considered resigning from their job because of wellbeing issues.

Concerns about the impact of high inflation on salaries is a clear message in this year’s study. While respondents based in Asia Pacific are more likely than others to be content with their current salary – 47% say they are dissatisfied with their pay, compared with 55% of global respondents – 57% say they plan to ask their employer for a pay rise in the coming 12 months. 47% believe the best way to increase their pay and rewards is to leave the organisation they currently work for.

Discontent with pay, skills and career development is driving respondents to consider new employers

New horizons?

Discontent with remuneration, combined with the need to develop the right skills for a digital workplace and dissatisfaction with career development opportunities, is persuading finance professionals across Asia Pacific to explore their options with new employers, sectors and geographies. 56% of respondents in Asia Pacific expect to move to their next role within two years, and 49% expect their next move to be to a new employer.

Many are hoping to move to a better-paying sector, including large corporate firms, financial services and the Big Four.

75% of office-based respondents say their employer requires them to work from the office

New patterns

The survey also explores how working patterns have continued to evolve following the pandemic. Across Asia Pacific, 59% of respondents are wholly office-based, 5% work remotely or at home, and 35% have a hybrid arrangement, although there are stark differences between countries, which often reflect population density and geographical challenges. In Australia, for example, 34% work in the office and 57% on a hybrid basis, whereas in Hong Kong, 72% are office-based and just 22% have a hybrid arrangement.

The report notes ‘big mismatches between how employees want to work and how they are working’. Three-quarters of respondents in Asia Pacific who are office-based say they work from the office because their employer requires it. But almost eight out of 10 would rather work on a hybrid basis, and 61% say they are more productive when working remotely.

45% of respondents say a disadvantaged socio-economic background is a barrier to progression

The report also explores equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). 78% of Asia Pacific respondents say that EDI practices are an important part of the employee proposition and a major reason for choosing an employer (73% of global respondents say the same), but just over half believe their own organisation focuses on some aspects of diversity over others. 38% say their organisation is unnecessarily biased towards recruiting younger people, and 45% of respondents (50% in China) say that a disadvantaged socio-economic background is a barrier to progression in the profession – just 28% of respondents in India agree.

More information

See AB’s overview of the report’s global findings; the global survey results are also available separately.

See also the findings from respondents in China, the Middle East and South Asia, the UK, Europe and Eurasia, Africa, and North America and the Caribbean