The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) recently held their Fall meeting in Beijing, China. Unlike New Delhi India which I visited in 2012, China is a thoroughly modern country in every way. The infrastructure is amazing, but it is so much more than that. The professional accountants I met understand their businesses, the global economy and the important role PAIBs can play in the future of both.

The China Institute of CPAs (CICPA) has over 200,000 members and is likely to rival the AICPA for the largest professional accounting body in the world in the next 10-20 years. Currently their focus is on developing a thriving and large public accounting industry. They are doing this through the resources offered by IFAC to every professional accounting organization in the world. IFAC sets international standards for audits, education and ethics. The CICPA has translated all of these into Chinese (no small feat) and has used them to create a true profession from nothing in in 25 years.

While the CICPA is not yet focusing on PAIBs, roughly half of its members are PAIBs. Those members are much like the AICPA PAIBs until a couple of years ago, a large unheard, under-appreciated section of membership. The AICPA took decades, but has finally delivered with the CGMA. The recognition and resources now afforded to PAIBs in the AICPA are only rivaled by those offered to PAIBs in CIMA, because after all we are all CGMAs – 140,000 strong. But if China can create an accounting profession in 25 years, then I have no doubt once they put their minds to helping PAIBs, they will do so with the same speed and efficiency that has propelled them to international prominence in everything else they do.

For now we are number one, but it is going to take significant continuing efforts by staff, volunteers and every credential holder to ensure that CGMAs remain the best Professional Accountants in Business.

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