Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crisis Seen Lifting Accountants' Status

The financial crisis is raising public awareness of the value of professional accountants, a global accounting body concludes after surveying the leaders of accountants' associations in 73 countries.

In its report issued early this month, the New York-based International Federation of Accountants states:

Many respondents report that the crisis has actually benefitted the profession with professional accountants -- including those in public practice and in business – being viewed as professionals who can help to turn the economic tide…The value of their core services is more highly regarded as clients and stakeholders recognize the need for strong governance and high quality financial information.

More specifically, accountants are being asked to help clients and employers cope with crisis-related challenges, such as business restructuring and insolvency issues. They also report getting requests for information about fair value accounting.

The crisis has not had the same impact around the globe. In fact, the IFAC says that leaders of professional accountancy organizations in some developing countries or regions "indicate that the financial crisis has not yet affected their jurisdictions."

While some of the 130 leaders who responded to IFAC's survey feared that demand for accounting services may fall as economies falter, most predicted that demand for accountants' services will continue to increase in the coming years.

Which specialties will enjoy the strongest demand in the near term?

Survey respondents expect their members in public practice to be more involved in the next year in forensic accounting, corporate recovery and insolvency services, assurance services (other than audits), as well as risk and compliance related work. They see their members in business being more involved in the areas of corporate social responsibility and sustainability, risk management and internal control, as well as governance and compliance.

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