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February 18, 2015

France should be an international leading voice in standard-setting: De Cambourg

By Vincent Huck

Mazars chairman Patrick de Cambourg has been auditioned by the commissions of finance of both chambers of the French Parliament for the position of president of the French accounting standard setter authority, Autorité des normes comptables (ANC).

De Cambourg was proposed for the role by French president Francois Holland and has to be approved by the commissions of finance of the National Assembly, which he addressed in the morning and the Senate’s in the afternoon.

De Cambourg delivered the same presentation to both commissions saying that accountancy was too often considered as a technical activity. "But accountancy is undoubtedly linked with politic and social issues," he said. "Beyond the standards there is an economic and social reality which touches women and men."

De Cambourg drew examples on his 40 years’ career at Mazars to explain to both commissions his management style. And while he said it was too early to outline a detailed strategy for the ANC, he identified three major issues the French standard setter should focus on.

"First at European level it is necessary to succeed in reforming EFRAG [European Financial Reporting Advisory Group], and insure that the ANC is a key contributing force in this success," he said.

Second, he praised the contribution of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to the profession in the past few years and said the ANC through "bilateral dialogue or through the European Union needs to establish a better dialogue with the IASB, one of respect and trust".

Finally, at national level De Cambourg said there was still a lot of work to do in terms of standard-setting and particularly in specific sectors of the economy such as insurance.

Members of the French Assembly’s commission of finance asked him how he intended to repositioned the ANC as a leading voice internationally, as it seems France and Europe had lost the battle of influence in standard-setting to the US.

De Cambourg said that while France might not have the power to impose its view internationally, it benefits from "a know-how and ‘savoir-être’ rooted in the Enlightenment era which gives her the charisma to be unavoidable internationally, this should be fructified".

The key for success, he continued, is the European Union where France needs to rise to the challenge of federalism and its resulting complexity by truly being a leading European voice.

Senators asked De Cambourg his views on having a private organisation, the ANC, issuing accounting standards. "Many countries including France are not very familiar with this model, which comes from the Anglo-Saxon world," he replied. "But this was a requirement from the European Union when it adopted IFRS in 2002."

Senators also asked him if he believed accounting standards should be simplified to be understood better. "Accounting can come across as a complex subject matter," he said. "But really what is complex is the financial transactions which accountancy describes. Therefore it is those transactions that have to be made easier to understand."

The counting of both commissions’ votes will be done simultaneously and De Cambourg appointment confirmed or refused later today. If approved, De Cambourg will be appointed for a 6-year mandate, renewable for another term.

Related storyMazars chairman in line for France’s top standard-setting role

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