Business

Hybrid conference of CA Sri Lanka and CAPA to be held in Colombo

  • Focusing on the role of finance professionals in promoting SDGs and ESG principles

One of the largest regional accounting assemblies to be held in Sri Lanka next month will take on a unique perspective whilst moving away from conventional topics, to recognise the significant role finance professionals – including chartered accountants – can play in championing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and considering Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles in making investment decisions.

The 42nd National Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) and the 20th Conference of the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA), a top regional accounting body, will raise the curtains on 6 October 2021, to unveil one of the biggest ever hybrid conferences ever to be hosted in Colombo, with the thought-provoking theme “Heritage: Many Businesses, One Planet.”

The hybrid conference is expected to attract over 2,500-plus global and local delegates who will connect with the event virtually, while over 40 speakers and session chairpersons will steer the technical sessions to generate global leadership ideas for businesses during the conference.  

The joint conference aims to explore the role and contribution accountants can make to mitigate and adapt to imminent risks and threats including climate change. During eight specialised technical sessions, speakers and panellists will deliberate contemporary and emerging issues impacting the accounting profession, alongside a rapidly changing social, economic, and technological landscape. 

The technical deliberations will commence with a session on “Stakeholder Capitalism”. EY Global Chairman and CEO Carmine Di Sibio will be the session keynote speaker and CA Sri Lanka Past President, CAPA Past President, and Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) Immediate Past Chairman Ranel T. Wijesinha will serve as session chairman along with an expert panel comprising of Samil PwC Korea Deputy Assurance Leader and Korea ESG Platform Leader Steven C. Kang, WWF Japan Board Member and JICPA Former Executive Board Member Keiko Kishigami, and ESG Senior Manager and CPA Australia Policy Advisor Corporate Regulation Dr. John Purcell who will explore the latest thinking and best practices adopted by companies that  strive  to serve the interests of all their stakeholders.

As professionals sitting close to the nerve centre of an organisation, accountants can play an extraordinary role in promoting greener investments which will ensure a greener economy, and a greener planet. The session on “Eco-investments and Sustainable Finance” will help participants gauge the benefits of eco-investments and sustainable finance, opportunities for public-private partnerships, and the responsibility of finance professionals in promulgating eco-investments and sustainable finance. Participants can look forward to expert insights and deliberations from  the session keynote speaker BDO International Limited Global Sustainability Lead Henning Dräger, panel speakers EY Partner and Asia-Pacific Public Policy Leader Julia Tay, and Linköping University Universitetslektor, IIRC London Ambassador, and HETL COuntry Director Dr. Nandita Mishra, and International Finance Corporation (IFC) Corporate Governance Officer Lopa Rahman, led by the session chairman EY Sri Lanka Former Managing Partner, CA Sri Lanka Past President, and Management Systems (Pvt.) Ltd. Chairman Asite Talwatte.

There will also be a deliberation on :Trust, IESBA Code with Technical Developments” which will aim to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the accounting profession and how the profession can build relevant, ethical, and trusted finance professionals. The session keynote will be delivered by International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) Chairman Dr. Stavros Thomadakis, with the session chairman CA Sri Lanka Past President and KPMG Sri Lanka Managing Partner Reyaz Mihular leading a lively discussion joined by panel speakers CA Sri Lanka Past President and KPMG Sri Lanka COO Yohan Perera, CA Sri Lanka Past President, BDO Partners Managing Partner, and People’s Bank Chairman Sujeewa Rajapakse, and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited Global IFRS and Corporate Reporting Leade Veronica Poole to share insights on practical challenges and opportunities for the profession.

“Raising Capital During Challenging Times”, an area of focus during the pandemic, will be discussed by Deal Advisory Partner Mahek Vikamsey and panel, Advocata Institute Chairman and JB Securities CEO Murtaza Jafferjee, Member Network Panel ACCA SL Chairman, National Chamber of Commerce President, and Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC CFO Nandika Buddhipala, guided by the session chairman CAPA Board Member and CA Sri Lanka Vice President Sanjaya Bandara to deliberate on the bold steps which must be taken by companies to raise capital during these challenging times. 

“The Right Artificial Intelligence (AI)” session can help business leaders to harness AI for sustainable development as well as generate new service opportunities for finance professionals. Carnegie Mellon University Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr. Kasun Amarasinghe will deliver the session keynote. The session chairman CA Sri Lanka Past President and Head of Consulting for Sri Lanka and Maldives, and EY Senior Partner Arjuna Herath, will steer a panel discussion joined by University of Bergen Department for Information Science and Media Studies Chair Prof. Marija Slavkovik, 365 Architechs Managing Director Tim Timchur, and Coach, Mentor, and Entrepreneur, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. Ex-Group CFO V. S. Parthasarathy to discuss ethical boundaries and the unexplored potential of the right AI.

The wellbeing of our workforce will be the area of focus in the session “The Hidden Pandemic (Wellbeing)”. Deakin University Deakin Business School Organisational Behaviour Chair Prof. Andrew Noblet, the session keynote speaker will focus on the importance of employees’ mental wellbeing, which has become a highly discussed topic since the pandemic. The session chairman, Institute of Public Accountants Group CEO Prof. Andrew Conway along with the panel speakers award-winning author, speaker, and Intrinsic Leadership Academy Founder Dr. Asoka Jinadasa, as well as Deloitte China Chairman Dennis Chow, and Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd. Chairperson and Managing Director Hajar Alafifi will help delegates understand what contributes to work-related stress, the repercussions thereof, as well as how organisations and the management can create a more supportive and compassionate corporate culture where employees can thrive and deliver better results. 

“The Red Flag (Fraud)” session will pay attention to the heightened risk of fraud in the global economy and the increasing reliance placed more than ever on finance professionals to identify and mitigate the risk of fraud. During the session, experts will help participants understand how to upskill themselves, use technology, and build controlled environments to mitigate the risk of fraud. The session keynote will be delivered by Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Training Director Jason Zirkle followed by a discussion chaired by session chairman CA Sri Lanka Past President, CAPA Past President, and PWC Sri Lanka Managing Patner Sujeewa Mudalige and an expert panel comprising of Forestpin (Pvt.) Ltd., Sri Lanka Managing Director and Co-Founder Ransith Fernando, Alvarez & Marsal, Hong Kong and China Managing Director and Asia Head of Disputes and Investigations Keith Williamson, and KPMG AZSA LLC Partner and JICPA IAASB Working Group Chairman Koichiro Kuramochi who will bring to life the many elements that will help companies to mitigate this ever increasing risk.

The conference will conclude with the “Chronicles of Entrepreneurship” which will focus on showcasing four inspiring entrepreneurs and their journey to cross the SME boundary and how the SME sector can continue to be an integral pillar of Sri Lanka’s growth. The session keynote will be delivered by CA Sri Lanka Past President and CMA Sri Lanka President Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala, whilst CAP Organic (Pvt.) Ltd. Founder and CEO Ranjan Hanchapola, Spa Ceylon Ayurveda Wellness Co-Founder Shalin Balasuriya, Cinnatopia (Pvt.) Ltd. and Basik Foods INC Founder and Managing Director Sashika De Silva, and Saaraketha Holdings (Pvt.) Ltd. Founder and Managing Director Prasanna Hettiarachchi will join the session to share their success stories with the session chairman CA Sri Lanka Past President and B.R. De Silva & Company Chartered Accountants Partner Lasantha Wickremasinghe helping them to highlight areas which could assist other aspiring companies also to reach the pinnacle of success.

The CAPA conference has been held 19 times, in 12 countries, and is a key event in the CAPA calendar. The first CAPA conference was held in 1957 in Manila, Philippines. CAPA is a regional organisation representing 32 professional accountancy organisations (PAOs) from 23 jurisdictions, and these PAOs have a collective membership of over two million qualified accountants.

A landmark concept founded by CA Sri Lanka in 1979, the National Conference of Chartered Accountants is Sri Lanka’s biggest business summit annually attracting over 2,000 delegates. The conference is also one of the most sought-after corporate events in the country as it has become an ideal platform to generate thought leadership and out of the box thinking for business leaders as it focuses on pertinent areas relevant to businesses and chartered accountants, which in turn help them acquire new knowledge ideas from across the globe.