This is now in the balance and if our institutes do not take the lead, major decisions affecting our futures, and those of the next generation of members, will be taken out of our hands.
A worrying trend for politicising standard setting is developing.
We all know what sector interference can mean for the global standard-setting process. Here, accountants must support the IASB and stress that interference does not further the aim of providing transparent and comparable financial statements. We can also reinforce the point that it might scupper chances of the SEC ever dropping the requirement for reconciliation with US GAAP.
The requirements on ethics introduced by the APB will affect the intellectual capital of accountants that businesses rely so heavily upon. The input accountants make to businesses could be eroded. It’s not that new standards are not well intended, but because of a lack of focus on the needs of small and medium-sized businesses.
We have put the arguments in the public domain as to why independence requirements for big business are not good for small business. A conservative estimate put the cost of the APB requirements at £120m per annum.
Of all the challenges we face today, the biggest by far is that regulation of our profession is threatening the traditional range of services offered by the firms training our future members.
Unless the institutes and their members around the world become bolder and work with regulators to influence regulation before decisions are made, we risk professional standards becoming rules based and pushed by political and legal considerations.
Members in business can do more to make their voices heard. The influence of the institutes depends on the commitment of volunteers. The more you engage with us, the more authoritative and powerful our voice becomes.
Paul Druckman is president of the ICAEW.
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