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Views from our team – Saket Modi

Thursday 11 March 2021

Saket ModiNext in the series of interviews with our teaching faculty, we chat to IFRS instructor, Saket Modi. It was great to hear more about his career path, how life has changed during the pandemic, his predicted hot topics for 2021 and to discover an amazing skill we had no idea about!

Hi Saket, we’ve worked together for many years, but this is the first time we’ve formally chatted in this way. For our readers, please tell us where you are based.

Hello! I’m based out of London. I grew up in India and came to the UK to do my Masters in Multinational Accounting and Financial Management on a scholarship. I have been in the UK for over 20 years.

What topics do you teach, and do you have a favourite?

My expertise is in international financial reporting and analysis, so most of the courses I teach on are for preparers and users of IFRS and IPSAS financial statements. I cover different sectors such as banking & financial services, oil & gas and government.

My favourite topic is financial instruments, including derivatives and hedge accounting but also enjoy dealing with the challenges that other technical accounting areas such as fair value, revenue and leases bring to the table. These areas provide me the opportunity to create an impact on the learners.    

Tell us a little bit about your background and career.

I followed a traditional path quite typical for most accountants, working initially with Wilkins Kennedy, a mid-tier accounting firm now called Azets UK, and then Ernst & Young in London. I moved to Lloyds Bank after IFRS was adopted by the European Union in 2005. It was a fantastic experience working on technical accounting and financial reporting aspects relating to financial instruments, including hedge accounting.

I have spent most of the last decade teaching and have facilitated courses for participants from over 50 countries in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia. In addition, I have also been involved in content development and as a technical reviewer on a number of projects relating to IFRS and IPSAS.

I decided to become a Chartered Accountant as it requires practical hands-on training and provides exposure to different businesses at a young age. The CFA® qualification came later as I worked extensively with financial institutions and also focused on analysis of the financial statements. I also hold a Diploma in IPSAS from CIPFA.   

Did you set out to be an instructor, and if not, how did you get here?

No, I didn’t get into teaching until a bit later in my career. At Lloyds Bank, I used to lead informal knowledge sessions for the team to explain the complex transactions and the related impact on accounting. I was also a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce London, and served as the training director, being responsible for organising training events. Both the above experiences helped me take the plunge to follow my passion in training and fortunately it has worked out.

How has your professional life changed over the Pandemic, and what have you had to do to adapt?

Before the pandemic, all the training courses I conducted took place in physical classrooms and involved travel. Whether commuting London or jumping on a flight to a country in Europe, Africa, Middle East or Asia, I travelled extensively for my job. Since the second half of 2020, all the training courses have been virtual. Just like everyone else, I have had to adapt quickly to the online platforms and the learning environment.

Thinking about how you have adapted, has anything changed for the positive?

In the past few months, I have facilitated courses ranging from an hour to a full day for participants who are thousands of miles away. I have started courses at 1:00am and finished at 5:30am for participants from Asia so have been jet lagged in my own home without being on a flight (but am not complaining). The virtual environment provides the flexibility to tailor courses with regards to its duration and reach out to geographies that we would never think about in a normal classroom environment.  

Do you think that the training landscape has changed forever, and if so, why?

It has been great to see how the world has adapted quickly to the virtual environment. Though the physical classroom training can never be replaced completely, we will see a combination of classroom and live virtual courses, and use of e-learning in a blended approach.

Is there a city/training venue that you have particularly missed visiting?

In addition to the wonderful hotel that IASeminars uses in Central London for their training events (the Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel), I missed Zurich last year. In the first half of December we normally run IFRS 9 Financial Instruments or IFRS for Banks and Financial Institutions courses in the city.  I am lucky to combine teaching with visits to the city’s lovely Christmas markets.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I try play Tennis in the summer and catch up on action or thriller movies. During the pandemic I have probably walked more in the local area that ever before.  

Have you discovered any new hobbies, or talents, during lockdown?

I won’t say new hobbies or talents, but have spent more time doing Reiki. I learnt Reiki when I was a student, and practicing it even for a short time makes me relaxed and energised. 

What are you most looking forward to when restrictions are lifted?

I would like to be back in the physical classroom interacting with learners from different cultures, and also travel to different locations as I had been doing before the pandemic.

What do you think will be the hot topics in 2021?

I think IFRS Standards will continue to be a hot topic. These Standards have been adopted in 140+ countries and many organisations face challenges in applying the complex areas. We need to be aware of the new age topics such as blockchain, cybersecurity and robotic process automation as they apply to accounting and finance professionals. The IFRS Foundation is making a bid to set up the International Sustainability Reporting Standards Board - now that’s hot!

Any final comments, notes, pearls of wisdom?!

As I have often said, the world has turned upside down in the last year. We all have had to adapt and change. As Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said, “The only constant in life is change”. 

About the Author

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