Tuesday, July 17, 2007

ICAS off to China to teach how to do it the Enron way

Laugh a minute returns to the accountancy profession as ICAS - the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, one of our problematic self regulators, decides to get in on the act of teaching the Chinese the way of the fiddle.

ICAS does not encourage standards in the accountancy world via self regulation and neither do any self regulators for that, because at the end of the day, when regulatory matters raise their head, the only thing that ICAS can do is cover up, and ICAS have managed that in grand style for years, excelling even the likes of the Enron scandal

There are some fine examples of how ICAS maintain standards of transparency and reliability in the world of regulating Scotland's less than honest accountants

Perhaps in the light of recent scandals in the Chinese medicine & goods market involving standards & corruption, more attention will be paid to who teaches standards .. after all, outsiders who claim honesty are not always what they seem now ...

ICAS keen to meet demand in China

IAN FRASER July 16 2007 (Story from The Herald Newspaper)

One of the biggest challenges facing China's fast-growing economy is to ensure the reliability and transparency of the country's financial reporting and corporate accounting. To achieve this, the People's Republic recognises that building a cadre of responsible, ethical and properly-trained accountants is critical.

The Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA), the principal professional body for accountants in China, believes one way to reach this goal is to send more of its best and brightest bean-counters to receive at least part of their professional training with leading accountancy institutes in the West - and it has singled out the UK as its most favoured destination.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, led by chief executive Anton Colella, wants to get in on any opportunities this might present. Last week the institute welcomed a delegation of 29 top Chinese accountants to Edinburgh. Organised by CICPA, the delegation included five of the institute's executives together with 24 representatives from leading accountancy firms in China, including some from "Big Four" firms.

Speaking in Edinburgh last week, Wang Liran, chief adviser to CICPA, said she believes ICAS has much to offer Chinese accountants because of "the international nature of its training programme".

Wang told The Herald: "In China we have a shortage of elite, internationally-trained certified public accountants. ICAS has a very internationalised approach to training, which suits the needs of our market and China's fast-growing economy."

She said that CICPA intends to start co-operating with ICAS on training "in the near future", adding that details would be hammered out when Colella visits Beijing with ICAS's executive director of education Mark Allison later this year.

She added that her institute - which has 140,000 members - has made great strides in raising professional and ethical standards, and in assisting the gradual transition from Chinese GAAP to the international IFRS standards - a process that is still underway in China. However, Wang conceded that problems remain in the implementation process, and this is where "help and support from our international partners can play a big part."

Wang said the three biggest challenges facing the accountancy profession in China are: "Cultivating professional talent, the convergence of accounting standards, and developing larger and more commercial accountancy firms".

She said the area where ICAS can be of most assistance is with the cultivation of professional talent. She added that Scotland was "a dream place to come" for Chinese accountants. "It's like a holy place for accountants, because you have the professional institute with the longest history in the world."

In a sign of the strong demand for internationally trained accountants in China, PricewaterhouseCoopers recently announced its intention to boost numbers of trained professionals in its 12 mainland Chinese centres from 8000 to 13,000.

ICAS first opened a dialogue with China in 1994, when it sent a small delegation to Beijing at the invitation of the government. The institute has also hosted several earlier delegations from China, providing briefings on professional and regulatory issues.

In August 2006, 12 Chinese nationals started studying for the CA qualification. The students, trainees at Ernst & Young China, are training in the UK but expect to take up positions with the firm's offices throughout China once they qualify.

However, other UK institutes, including the Institute of Accountants in England and Wales and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, have a head start when it comes to the training of Chinese accountants. CICPA launched a partnership with ICAEW in June 2006 for the training of a minimum of 50 elite Chinese accountants a year, while CIMA has had an office in China since 1998.

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