By Carlos Martin Tornero and Vincent Huck
If the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) was the United Nations, its board would certainly be the Security Council, which has now a majority of members, 35%, from the Asia-Pacific region.
The analogy is not far-fetched, judging by the attendance of the 2014 World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) held in Rome last week and hosted by the Italian profession -which effectively worked as a global melting pot of accountants.
Before the WCOA, IFAC’s council (i.e. the UN General Assembly following the international relations analogy), held its annual meeting and appointed five new board members.
The 23-member board, which has now added a new seat, has shifted its balance of powers to the Asia-Pacific countries.
As of November 2013, representatives from Europe and Asia-Pacific countries both accounted for 32% of the seats at IFAC’s executive body, compared to the current 30% and 35% respectively.
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Four of the new board members are from the Asia-Pacific region: Kumar Raghu (India), Shinji Someha (Japan), Richard Petty (Australia) and Raphael Ding (Hong Kong). The fifth one is Joy Thomas from Canada.
Those new members replaced Ganapathy Ramaswamy (India), Makoto Shinohara (Japan), Warren Allen (New Zealand) and Steven Vieweg (Canada); Hong Kong’s newly appointed representative being the one tilting the balance in favour of the Asia-Pac region.
Africa maintains its 9% representation share, with one member from Nigeria and another member from South Africa. Coincidentally about 1,000 delegates at the WCOA, one fourth of the total, were accountants from Nigeria.
In the closing ceremony, former chairman of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya Ndungu Gathinji was presented with the IFAC Robert Sempier award.
As Gathinji said the best of Africa is yet to come and meaningfully noted: "We are still waiting for the first president of IFAC from Africa".
Latin America, which had Argentinian president Fermín del Valle from 2006 to 2008, keeps Argentinian Ana Maria Ellorieta as the only representative (although for Brazil), who was reappointed in November 2013.
The same goes for the Caribbean region with one member, Auditor General of Jamaica Pamela Monroe Ellis, whose term would expire in November 2015.
Canada and the US have both two members, the latter including president Olivia Kirtley, who will be at the helm until 2016 when another woman, Rachel Grimes, from the down under profession will take over.
IFAC’s new board improved gender parity with 39% of female members, compared to 31% last year, and Kirtley and Grimes assuming the top spots.
The other half of MINT countries representatives, Ahmadi Hadibroto from Indonesia and Masum Turker from Turkey, were reappointed for a second three-year term.
Both countries offer great potential for the global profession. In the case of Indonesia, its Ministry of Finance estimated the country needs 12,000 professional accountants to support Indonesia’s economic development.
According to other estimates the shortage could be of 60,000 accountants. Ikatan Akuntan Indonesia the national accountancy body, has more than 13,500 members but more than half of its membership is aged 60 years and above.
Turkey’s representative, Masum Turker is a former State Minister and past president of the Union of Chambers of Certified Public Accountants of Turkey (TÜRMOB).
TÜRMOB counts 92,584 members and recently joined the European Federation of Accountants.
On 7 November IFAC’s council (i.e. UN General Assembly) admitted the Dutch Institute of Management Accountants as a member.
The council also upgraded two associate members (the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria and the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka) to full IFAC members.
The council also admitted the following three organisations as associate members: the Chamber of Authorized Auditors of Republic of Serbia, the Indonesian Institute of Public Accountants, and Russian non-profit audit association "Sodruzhestvo".
In November 2015 seven board members will end their terms: two from Asia-Pacific, three from Europe, one from the Caribbean and one from Africa.
As opposed to its UN equivalent, IFAC’s board does not have permanent members. No doubt the African and Latin American professions will approach next meeting of IFAC’s council with high expectations to see if a balance of power is feasible.