Sustainability and Ethics Among Key Issues for Global Accountancy Leaders

Credibility of the profession, standard setting, and adoption and implementation are key areas of focus for leaders in the accountancy profession, according to results of the 2010 IFAC Global Leadership Survey of the Accounting Profession, released by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).

 

“In our fourth annual survey, there was extremely strong confirmation among survey participants that IFAC should continue in its pivotal role as an international standard setter,” says Ian Ball, chief executive officer of IFAC. “In addition, respondents asked us to continue to work toward convergence and the adoption of international standards, and proactively support and restore public confidence in the accountancy profession.”

 

IFAC’s Role in Implementation of Global Standards is Crucial

 

The accountancy profession feels that transitioning to International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) is a crucial issue—96 percent of survey respondents cited this as very important or important, compared with 83 percent last year. There was also universal sentiment that IFAC, as a representative of the global accountancy profession, has a key role to play in convergence and leading the way in the global adoption and implementation of standards.

 

Virtually all survey participants (98-99 percent) said that IFAC plays a very important or important role relating to confidence in, and adoption of, high-quality international standards. In addition, 97 percent of respondents said that recognition of IFAC as the umbrella organization for international standards in the areas of auditing and assurance, education, ethics, and public sector financial reporting is very important or important. The vast majority of survey participants said IFAC should continue to work toward convergence and effective implementation of international standards. To encourage implementation, 91 percent of those surveyed said that developing guidance regarding international standards and corporate governance principles is very important or important. 

 

Sustainability and SMPs Take Center Stage

 

Sustainability emerged as a key issue as well, with 91 percent saying that progressing corporate social responsibility, including sustainability, is important, compared to 82 percent last year. In addition, 95 percent of respondents said that addressing the needs of SMEs and SMPs is crucial.

 

Global Code of Ethics Needed

 

The importance of ethics also was cited—auditor independence and agreeing/discussing expectations to prevent and detect fraud were cited by 91 percent and 89 percent of respondents, respectively. The survey also confirmed the widespread opinion that there is a clear need to have a global code of ethics to protect the fundamental qualities of the profession, particularly relating to independence. According to participants, the code needs to take local culture into account, and needs to be effectively enforced.

 

Demand for Professional Accountants Continues to Grow

 

Significant demand is seen across various sectors, particularly in public practice, with approximately three-quarters of respondents saying that demand is very high or high in public practice-accounting/advisory/tax/other (78 percent) and public practice-auditing/assurance (71 percent). These results compare positively to our 2009 survey, in which 77 percent and 65 percent, respectively, of respondents cited very high or high demand in these areas. Those surveyed said that the accountancy profession continues to be attractive due to career options, ability to work internationally, and earning potential.

 

 

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