ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

Record-breaking attendance at 'Olympics' of accountancy profession

More than 6,000 delegates from 134 countries attended the 18th World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) 2010, which opened on 8 November 2010 in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Co-hosted by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), this was the first time the WCOA, dubbed the Olympics of the accountancy profession, was held in a south-east Asian country.

The four-day congress - of which ACCA was a gold sponsor - saw 183 high-profile speakers from more than 40 countries discussing the theme of Accountants: Sustaining Value Creation at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

They provided concrete solutions to overcome the challenges faced by the industry in four plenary sessions and 35 concurrent sessions.

The welcome address was given by Nor Mohamed Yakcop, minister in the Prime Minister's Department, on behalf of Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak, who was unable to attend.

Delivering Najib's speech, Nor stressed that the choice of Malaysia as WCOA 2010 host reflected the trust and confidence the global financial and business communities have in the professional standing of Malaysia's accountancy profession.

He also said that accountants, in their fiduciary positions, play a major role in building and maintaining public confidence in the financial markets.

In his speech at the opening ceremony, IFAC president Robert Bunting said that in times of economic challenge, there is even more pressure than ever for short-term thinking and instant results. 'Yet, the professional accountant must accept the challenge of helping find ways to help sustain the organisations we work in,' he added.

Bunting also said that the global financial crisis had clearly revealed that the financial reporting and disclosure of most governments still had 'considerable room for improvement'.

'And in the private sector, the financial crisis has underscored the need for international standards, to reduce the risk of decision-making by investors, provide for efficient capital allocation, promote economic development and to maintain financial stability all over the word.'

MIA president Abdul Rahim Abdul Hamid said hosting the WCOA was significant not just for the local accountancy industry, but for Malaysia as a whole.

Bunting also presented three special IFAC awards at the opening ceremony. China's vice minister of finance, Dr Wang Jun, was honoured in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the international accounting profession.

This includes his leadership in the reform of the Chinese accountancy profession, his promotion of the development, adoption, and implementation of new Chinese accounting and auditing standards, and his advocacy for the convergence of Chinese and international accounting and auditing standards.

The prestigious Sempier Award was given to Robert Mednick, former chairman of IFAC's Compliance Advisory Panel. René Ricol was also honoured in recognition of his professional contributions, including his roles as an IFAC officer and as a member of its board.

The congress concluded on 11 November 2010 after four intense days of discussions on how to tackle and resolve major issues facing the global accountancy profession.

The closing ceremony saw Göran Tidström taking the stage as the newly appointed president of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), from Robert Bunting.

The final plenary session preceding the closing ceremony saw the chief executives of five major accountancy bodies (ACCA, AICPA, ICAEW, CIMA and CPA Australia) sharing their views on accountants in the coming decade. 

WCOA 2014 will be held in Rome, hosted by Italy's Consiglio Nazionale dei Dottori Commercialisti e Degli Esperti Contabili.