The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has released the results of its inaugural global leadership survey, which has highlighted the widespread importance of convergence to a single set of global standards. A total of 143 presidents and chief executives from 115 IFAC member bodies and associates in 91 countries, as well as six regional accountancy bodies, participated in the survey.
Survey respondents pointed to three issues most affecting the global accountancy profession: the perception of the profession’s integrity by the public and regulators; staying current with professional practices; and supporting SMEs.
The study revealed that most leaders will focus on attracting new talent into the profession, particularly from regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, North Africa and North America, where the most pressing staff shortages exist. One key finding of the survey was the importance of convergence to single sets of both international accounting and auditing standards. Respondents ranked convergence to International Standards on Auditing at the same high level of importance as convergence to IFRS. Other key findings included the negative impact on national economies due to a limited supply of qualified accounting professionals; the ongoing significance of auditor liability; and the importance of support from the global profession for SMEs.
Approximately one-third of survey respondents said their countries were applying International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Leaders of accountancy bodies in countries that do not apply IPSAS said that if their governments did adopt these standards, it would lead to increased economic growth and development.
Most leaders expressed optimism for 2008, which was attributed to the availability of human and financial capital, and the growth of SMEs. Potential threats to economic growth included a lack of investor confidence in capital markets, corruption and energy costs.