Recent accounting scandals worldwide like Parmalat were several items presented its annual reports included false figures or Enron were a significant amount of liabilities have been “hidden” in ad hoc special purpose entities, put in a bad light the professionalism of accountants. They have also demonstrated that questionable behaviors of the latter affect everyone, even those who do not have any direct involvement with these professionals (Cameran and Campa, 2016). This events also highlighted the need of stricter entry requirements for prospective accountants and a continuous education for those already in the profession.
In relation to this point, on December 2015, the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) issued a consultation paper entitled ‘Meeting Future Expectations of Professional Competence: A Consultation on the IAESB’s Future Strategy and Priorities’. This consultation paper aims ‘to obtain public comment on its vision for the next five years and the strategic priorities it believes need to be addressed in serving the public interest’ (IAESB, 2015, p. 3, available at: https://www.ifac.org/publications-resources/consultation-paper-meeting-future-expectations-professional-competence).
The International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) is one of the several independent standard setting boards operating under the IFAC (International Federation of Accountants) umbrella with the aim of serving the public interest by strengthening the professionalism of accountants. IAESB’s point of view on the relevance of accountancy education is illustrated in its October 2015 Fact sheets stated as follows: ‘Enhancing education through developing and implementing IESs (International Education Standards) should increase the competence of the global accountancy profession and contribute to strengthened public trust. (…) The profession, therefore, needs to set and meet high educational standards in these three areas. Enhancing education serves the public interest by contributing to the ability of the accountancy profession to meet the needs of decision makers’ (IFAC, 2015, p. 1).
The European Accounting Association (EAA), through two of its members, namely Mara Cameran from Bocconi University and Domenico Campa from the International University of Monaco, took the opportunity to provide its view about the education of professional accountants participating to the IASEB consultation paper. Since the EAA is an association of accounting academics, its comments were especially focused on the educational aspects. Overall, they suggest a reinforcement of the entry requirements that would include a proper education background, advanced levels of both some technical competences and interpersonal/communication skills as well as a very strong ethical commitment. They also recommend a more thorough development process for the continuous education of accountants, a stronger link between practitioners and academia, more effective communication strategies about IAESB activities.
The EAA reinforces the message that accountants must always be aware that, even if they are paid to provide a service to a company, their work should be carried out in the public interest since it must satisfy the expectations of all the stakeholders of a company. It implies that well-trained accountants are an important resource not only for the accounting profession but also for the whole society.
By Domenico Campa, professor at INSEEC Business School.
For more information:
- (2015). Meeting Future Expectations of Professional Competence: A Consultation on the IAESB’s Future Strategy and Priorities. Consultation Paper. Retrieved from: https://www.ifac.org/publications-resources/consultation-paper-meeting-future-expectations-professional-competence.
- (2015). Handbook of International Education Pronouncements. Retrieved from: https://www.ifac.org/publications-resources/2015-handbook-international-education-pronouncements.
- (2015). An Overview of the International Accounting Education Standards Board. Retrieved from: http://www.ifac.org/system/files/uploads/IAESB/IAESB-Fact-Sheet-2015-2.pdf.