State regulators told to back off accounting profession

The profession is at risk of losing its independence if governments do not
leave accountants to self-regulate.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the World Congress of Accountants in
Istanbul, Dr Masum Turker, president of the Expert Accountant’s Association of
Turkey and a key figure in the event’s organisation, said the profession’s
independence had been compromised by overzealous state regulators.

‘I am concerned that government oversight of accounting is violating the
profession’s independence. Accounting can only be independent when it regulates
itself,’ Turker said.

Turker pointed out that other professions such as law are not overseen by
state regulators and warned that the standard of accounting in developing
countries would be at risk as a result of state regulation.

‘If professional accountants are guided by the state, it hinders the
development of free markets, especially in developing nations,’ he said.

Turker’s warning was a major talking point at this year’s congress and comes
at a time when accountants across the world have become increasingly concerned
about regulatory creep and the growing influence of regulators such as the PCAOB
in the US and the FRC in the UK.

In his opening address, IFAC president Graham Ward hailed the progress that
accounting has made in cleaning up its act since the Enron and WorldCom
scandals. ‘Accountants are no longer experts in minimum compliance; they are the
promoters of best practice,’ he said.

However, Charley Niemeier, a PCAOB board member, said the damage caused by
Enron, WorldCom and Parmalat meant that self-regulation was no longer an option.

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