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January 14, 2008

Investment advisory vital to the future

The accounting profession’s future earning potential lies in investment advisory, according to new South Asian Federation of Accountants president Syed Mohammad Shabbar Zaidi. The PricewaterhouseCoopers Pakistan partner has questioned the future of audit (see A time for change) and said investment advisory is the only area in which “we have got an edge”.

Zaidi told TA that investment advisory business should belong to the accounting profession rather than investment bankers. “It is our business, because we know the business, we have done the business. We have learnt the law and the tax. So the lead should be coming from our side and they should help us, but unfortunately the lead is coming from their side and we are helping them,” he said.

Professional edge The accounting profession’s edge comes from practical business experience, Zaidi said: “I believe the people who are business school graduates lack the basic accounting understanding. The difference between us and them is that none of these schools have got practical training, so I call them a doctor but not a surgeon, while we are also surgeons. When we do the three-year training in auditing, [we come to] understand the actual business environment, how the information flows, while their understanding is more based on classroom training.”

Zaidi, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) council, added that the chartered accountant’s knowledge of areas such as accounting, corporate finance, tax and corporate law exceeds that of the ordinary business graduate.

He added: “Investment advisory has to be linked and co-ordinated with the economics – knowledge of basic economics in any society. The type of economics we need is the pure economics. Accountancy [institutes] have to add something on the economics as one of the core subjects if they want to be really good in the investment advisory and corporate finance in the long run.”

ICAP is redesigning its syllabus to work towards that outcome.

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