The past week really brought home to me how international the profession of accounting is becoming. I attended the International Federation of Accountants, Professional Accountants in Business committee meeting in New York and the Regional AICPA Council meeting in Atlanta.
The IFAC meeting really brought home that no matter where you work in the world, the U.S., Canada, Europe, India or Australia, the issues we are dealing with as PAIBs are the same. We are dealing with investor demands for more information being fulfilled through standard setters and regulators. We are dealing with risk management and internal control and the realization that as a business we have been organized to take risks – but as PAIBs we are being asked to monitor that risk taking to make sure the risks are known and within the corporate plans. PAIBs across the world are being asked to be more than just good accountants; we are being asked to be strategic leaders in the business to deliver on business plans and ultimately the return to all stakeholders in the business.
The internationalization of the issues facing the profession was made even more apparent at the AICPA Regional Council meeting. We spent half the meeting hearing updates about and talking about potential implications to the AICPA and our members of the various impacts of Internationalization. Mandatory auditor rotation is just one such issue. It is a purported solution to all the ills related to audits around the world. Some areas see it as the solution to an apparent lack of competition among the audit firms. Others see it as the way to give auditors backbones to stand up to unreasonable requests from the companies they audit – the theory is it is easier to say no if you know your going to lose the relationship after a few years anyway. But whatever the problem, mandatory auditor rotation as the solution is gaining momentum due to an interesting dynamic – that everyone else is “doing it” so it must be good and we need to do it too.
This last point brings out the reason why it is important to talk with an be part of the international professional accountant community. Some solutions are good and worth emulating. Others, however, are not good at all and the misinformation being spread can only be combated by hearing the real story from our fellow professionals in those countries. I for one am glad the AICPA is focused on the internationalization of the profession and opening the lines of communications around the world.
I’m guessing a lot of you are saying IFAC PAIB. What is that? The answer is The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Professional Accountants In Business (PAIB) Committee. IFAC is a confederation of 267 professional accounting bodies from around the world. Its members include the AICPA, CIMA, ACCA, CPA Australia, ICAEW, and ICAI (you can look up the ones you don’t know on your own) among many others. IFAC’s mission is to promote the profession of accounting across the world and support that profession through leading in setting standards for audits, ethics and education.
The PAIB supports that mission for accountants in business by seeking global recognition of professional accountants as business leaders and strategic partners in building long-term sustainable organizational success. PAIB work includes International Good Practice Guides (IGPG), other informational or discussion papers on emerging topics that do not yet have defined good practices, web based resources and forums and roundtables.
One of the defining IGPG’s is Competent and Versatile How Professional Accountants in Business Drive Sustainable Success can be found at https://www.ifac.org/publications-resources/competent-and-versatile-how-professional-accountants-business-drive-sustainab. This document outlines what makes professional accountants different from all of the non-professionals out there as well as showing how having the right professionals help businesses be more successful.
Last year I was honored with an appointment to a three year term on the PAIB and I attended my first meeting in New Delhi, India last week. We did all of the things you would expect the committee to do including updating the strategic plan, reviewing new guides being produced and setting the near term agenda for additional guides and efforts to be undertaken. In addition, I got to experience for the first time the worldwide impact of the profession of accounting.
I met members from the Pakistan, India and Hong Kong and seeing and hearing how much businesses need true professionals to support them and make them a success was enlightening. We are very fortunate to have a large and talented pool of professional accountants that work in business to ensure the success of companies across the country. The U.S. is the model of success that much of the world would like to replicate, and many see the core of professional accountants available to U.S. businesses as one of the key pieces to our formula for success. It makes me proud to be able to say I am part of that. Thanks to all of you for making that possible.