Comments from ACCA to the International Federation of Accountants, November 2010.
The consultation document outlines a welcome practical approach to increasing awareness of the important roles of professional accountants in business, and sets the groundwork for a productive debate on the role of accountants in supporting their organisations effectively. Our specific comments in relation to the questions specified are as follows:
Question 1: Does the paper fairly and usefully represent the diverse roles and domain of professional accountants in business? Please suggest ideas on how we can enhance the paper to become a useful tool in (a) creating awareness of the important roles professional accountants play in creating, enabling, preserving and reporting value for organisations and stakeholders, and (b) identifying how IFAC could assist its member bodies and associates in enhancing the competence of their members.
ACCA's global research and insights programme, Accountants for Business, has been proactively promoting the role of the professional accountants across all sectors and sizes of organisation as a source of value creation for businesses, since its inception in 2009. As part of our public interest remit, and in recognition of the large number of our members working in the sector, ACCA widely supports any activities which promote the specific role of professional accountants in business, and their contribution to organisation success. Our most recent paper, The value creation model for business: 2010 and beyond, focuses on the role of professional accountants in supporting business to create and sustain value and was produced specifically to support IFAC's leadership in this field.
We believe this paper is a useful summary of the diverse roles and domain of the professional accountant in business, providing a helpful frame for further discussion and activities.
ACCA fully endorses the concept of a common model for understanding how professional accountants in business drive sustainable organisation success, encompassing the public and non-profit sectors. Though contextual factors and other differences in the role professional accountants perform within particular organisations, industries and sectors do exist, it is our view that these are not significant; there is considerable commonality between roles and there is merit and value in the development of a common framework for the role of professional accountants in business as the basis for debate.
(a) In helping create awareness of the role professional accountant's play, we would raise the following additional items:
(b) Identifying how IFAC could assist its member bodies and associates in enhancing the competence of their members.
Question 2: What additional tools could IFAC develop to assist its member bodies and associates to promote and communicate the roles of professional accountants in business to various audiences, including employers, governments and regulators?
ACCA would welcome the development of a common suite of resources available to member bodies which could be used to promote the role of professional accountants in business. ACCA would support a consultative approach across member bodies to developing these. We would also support greater clarity and practicality in considering the role of professional accountants in helping drive value creation and sustainable business. Common collateral could include key messages in this area, supporting facts and figures, employer case studies, individual profiles of accountants in business, CEO perspectives and so on.
Question 3: Do you agree with the drivers of sustainable organisations that lead to long-term sustainable value creation, as identified in Part 2 and described in Appendix 2? If not, what alternatives would you suggest?
ACCA broadly agrees with the drivers of sustainable organisations as identified in Part 2 of the report. We also offer the following additional comments:
Question 4: Would IFAC member bodies and associates find it useful for an international competency framework to be developed, covering the roles of professional accountants defined in this paper.
ACCA would find this development useful if there was a common, cross member body approach taken. As identified previously, ACCA believes that the development of a common generic competency framework for professional accountants in business is possible, and would be useful and provide an appropriate frame for employers across markets and sectors in developing interventions to support competency development.
Question 5: How would a company framework be best structured? Could the competences be usefully structured using the eight drivers of sustainable organisations, and would it be practicable to use the description of the key expectations placed upon professional accountants in business in Part 4?
ACCA believes the drivers identified could be usefully structured as a basis for the competency framework, subject to the comments offered in the previous answer. We believe translating these generic drivers into the role areas that professional accountants perform would be the first step in creating the global competence framework. As noted previously, we believe there is sufficient common ground to be able to develop a competence framework relevant to professional accountants in all types of business, regardless of the specific industry sectors in which they are employed.
We very much welcome IFAC's focus on the needs of PAIBs, as a significant constituency within our membership and, of course, the global profession. Despite the diversity of entities within which PAIBs work, we believe starting from the point of view of commonality, especially in relation to value creation, is very valuable.