The time is ripe for change to the
traditional reporting model and this presents a chance for
accountants to come to the fore as business partners, according to
the new president of the International Federation of Accountants
(IFAC).

Robert Bunting, International Federation of AccountantsThe time
is ripe for change to the traditional reporting model and this
presents a chance for accountants to come to the fore as business
partners, according to the new president of the International
Federation of Accountants (IFAC).

Robert Bunting of the US assumed the presidency this month,
replacing Juan José Fermín del Valle of Argentina. Göran Tidström
of Sweden is deputy president.

Bunting is no stranger to leadership roles, having served as
chairman of the board of directors of the American Institute of
Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) from 2004 to 2005. Prior to
that he was chairman and chief executive of large US firm Moss
Adams for more than 20 years.

Business partnering

Bunting began his career at Price Waterhouse as an auditor. A
fascination with the link between business information and decision
making meant that within two years he moved to consulting. Two
years later, in 1972, he joined Moss Adams.

The notion of accountants as business partners rather than
number crunchers has been promoted vigorously in recent years but
Bunting said that aspect of the profession has developed less than
he would have expected in his 40-year career.

“In some ways it has developed a lot, for example corporate
social reporting. That is a growing part of the accounting
profession and one that I am not sure I expected back in 1972,” he
said.

“But some of the business reporting related to key performance
indicators and new reporting models have been much slower to
develop than probably was appropriate. I am really looking forward,
before my career is over, to see much more progress in that
area.”

The time for change is ripe today because the traditional
reporting model is under tremendous pressure, Bunting
suggested.

“Because we are in financial crisis people are going to be
examining very carefully the reporting supply chain and the content
of reports – whether they provide good business decision making and
risk management information or not and how they need to change.

“A lot of change comes out of crisis and we may be in a period
where we get more traction than perhaps in the past,” he said.

Bunting comes from a small rural US town and this influenced
both his decision to enter the accounting profession and
involvement in leadership roles.

He told The Accountant that children in his community
were raised to find a profession that provides a good living, so
when he discovered an aptitude for accounting in a high school
bookkeeping class and was told CPAs make an excellent living he
investigated the profession further. The small town culture also
drew Bunting towards leadership roles.

“In a small town environment everyone has to pitch in or the
town doesn’t work,” he explained.

“If you don’t put time into your community, you are not going to
have a good community and I view the profession that way. I care
about the profession’s reputation, I care about how effective we
are and if I really care I have to try to do something about
that.”

Carolyn Canham

Next month’s The Accountant will feature a special report on
IFAC.