Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Greece
Member | Established: 1997 | Member since 1977
Presidential Decree No. 226/1992, amended by Presidential Decree No. 341/1997, established SOEL in 1992 as a legal entity. Before the establishment of the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE), SOEL acted as a supervisory body for the auditing profession. The institute’s current mandate, under ELTE’s supervision, includes: (i) maintaining a registry of CPAs and audit firms; (ii) administering the professional examination of CPAs; (iii) establishing and enforcing initial and continuing education requirements; and (iv) conducting QA inspections of CPAs of non-public interest entities.
In addition to being a member of IFAC, the SOEL is a member of Accountancy Europe.
Statements of Membership Obligation (SMO)
The Statements of Membership Obligations form the basis of the IFAC Member Compliance Program. They serve as a framework for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations focused on serving the public interest by adopting, or otherwise incorporating, and supporting implementation of international standards and maintaining adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure the professional behavior of their individual members.
- SMO 1: Quality Assurance
In Greece, the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE), the audit oversight authority that operates under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance, is responsible for the establishment and implementation of a quality assurance (QA) review system for all Certified Public Accountants (CPA), auditors, of financial statements. ELTE has established a QA review system for auditors of all public interest entities (PIEs) and delegated the non-PIE QA reviews to SOEL. Auditors of PIEs are inspected every three years, and non-PIEs every six years. SOEL reports that it has assessed the QA review systems against the best practices of SMO 1 and concluded that the systems fulfill the requirements.
To fulfill its responsibility as delegated by ELTE, SOEL has established a Quality Control Committee (QCC) responsible for conducting the review for auditors of non-PIEs. Five members comprise the QCC with the Supervisory Council of SOEL appointing the QCC Chairman and two members. Their deputies are appointed by a proposal of ELTE’s Board of Directors and the last two members by SOEL’s General Assembly. As reported by SOEL, all costs related to the QA reviews are included in the SOEL annual budget. SOEL indicates that it delivers continuing professional development programs to its members on subjects such as quality control standards and the inspection processes of ELTE and SOEL.
As part of the austerity measures imposed by the Greek Government, from 2010–2014 SOEL supported the ELTE’s Quality Control Committee to conduct QA reviews by providing staff without hindering the quality, independence and/or any other conflict with the inspections.
Lastly, SOEL translated the IFAC Guide to Quality Control for Small and Medium Practices, to further support the implementation of quality control standards in the jurisdiction.
- SMO 2: International Education Standards
Law 4449/2017 establishes the initial and continuing professional development (IPD and CPD) requirements for Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The responsibility is shared among the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE), SOEL, and universities. Professional accountants other than CPAs do not seem to be subject to similar requirements.
Candidates who wish to acquire the title of CPA and become a SOEL member, are required to meet specific requirements such as: (i) have a university degree; (ii) pass a final professional accountancy examination; and (iii) have five years of practical experience. Two years of practical experience need to be completed after passing the final exam.
SOEL, under the oversight of ELTE, administers the professional examination of CPAs, establishes mandatory CPD requirements for members of 120 hours over three years, and offers CPD and other educational courses in SOEL’s Institute of Education and Training. The institute also monitors the fulfillment of the CPD obligation.
Since 2009, there has been a Joint Examination Scheme under which candidates for the profession take the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) examinations in English, and a local Taxation and Law exam in Greek, to earn the CPA designation. In 2014, a similar arrangement was formalized between SOEL and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). SOEL collaborates with the University of Athens to offer a postgraduate course in Applied Accounting and Auditing and has plans to establish similar programs with other Greek universities.
SOEL publishes a quarterly magazine, Accountancy Greece, which it uses to inform members about a variety of standard-related topics, changes to taxation and regulatory legislation, as well as updates from international standard-setters.
SOEL monitors the IAESB work program to identify and address areas of improvement to enhance its compliance with IES. It also participates in the international standard-setting process by providing comments on Exposure Drafts issued by the IAESB. Lastly, since 2015 SOEL decided to form a team that would focus on comparing the educational requirements of IES to those applied in Greece and prepare a report on the degree of compliance with IES requirements. The committee completed the review of the requirements of the revised IESs, in 2018 and provided guidelines for necessary minor improvements to the I Board of Directors, which were completed in Q4, 2018.
- SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
The auditing requirements are set in the Law 4449/2017, which was issued to transpose the Audit Directive and Regulation (EU) No 537/2014. The law directly adopts ISA, as translated and incorporated into the official Gazette, without modifications in Greece. In accordance with the law, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness are ultimately responsible for the adoption of applicable audit standards.
SOEL supports the implementation of ISA through its collaboration with the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE), the audit oversight body, to translate the standards into Greek. As of the date of the assessment, the 2009 version of ISA and ISQC 1, as well as the 2011 version of ISAE 3000, the 2014 ISAE 3420 and the revised ISAs 700, 260, 570, 705, 706 and 720 were translated, made publicly available, and disseminated to members of SOEL via print and online.
As reported by SOEL, there are plans to create a mechanism for ensuring that the SOEL and the ELTE are monitoring and translating up-to-date versions of the IAASB pronouncements.
SOEL confirms that it: (i) monitors new and amended standards issued by the IAASB; (ii) disseminates information on updates to the standards and international developments in the area through printed materials and its website; (iii) develops implementation guidelines; and (iii) offers CPD and other educational courses in SOEL’s Institute of Education and Training.
SOEL is encouraged to provide an update on its efforts to ensure the timely translation of new and revised standards into Greek, particularly given the latest 2018 Handbook, which includes the revised ISA 250 and 540, effective on December 15, 2019. In addition, SOEL is encouraged to participate, in collaboration with ELTE, in the international standard-setting process in this area by providing comments on IAASB Exposure Drafts and Discussion Papers.
- SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
The Law 3693/2008, as amended by the Law 4449/2017, introduced the application of the IESBA Code of Ethics to all Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Under the law, the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE), the audit oversight authority, is responsible for the enactment of a code of conduct for CPAs, taking into consideration the provisions of the IESBA Code of Ethics, following proposals made by SOEL. SOEL reports that the 2015 IESBA Code of Ethics was translated into Greek in cooperation with ELTE.
SOEL supports its members’ adherence to the Code of Ethics by including standards-related topics as a mandatory component of the examination syllabus and as part of the certification process for membership. SOEL also offers ethics courses in its annual continuing professional development training program and organizes seminars and other events. It also publishes information on new and revised IESBA pronouncements in its website and quarterly magazine, Accountancy Greece.
SOEL is encouraged to indicate any plans, in collaboration with ELTE, to translate the 2018 International Code of Ethics, which is a completely restructured and rewritten Code and does include the NOCLAR standards that was issued in 2016, for adoption in the jurisdiction. SOEL is similarly encouraged to provide information on planned actions or initiatives related to raising awareness of the 2018 IESBA Code of Ethics and supporting its proper implementation.
- SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
The Government of Greece is responsible for issuing public sector accounting and reporting standards. The Law 3429/2005 states that applicable public sector accounting standards and requires all public entities to use IFRS Standards in the preparation of their financial statements.
SOEL indicates it actively promotes the adoption of IPSAS in discussions with government officials and the public oversight body, the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE), which is responsible for providing advice on standards to the Ministry of Finance. It supports the adoption of IPSAS in ongoing public debates around appropriate public sector accounting standards for Greece, especially considering the 2010 economic crisis. SOEL also raises awareness on the importance of IPSAS adoption through its provision of the IPSASB’s pronouncements and other IPSAS-related news to relevant government officials.
In 2012, SOEL reported an initiative to translate IPSAS into Greek, in collaboration with ELTE; however, by 2015 only a summary of IPSAS was translated. Subsequently, the project was canceled by ELTE management and as of 2017, the SOEL was trying to re-engage the ELTE on pursuing the translation to support the future adoption of the standards. In addition, in 2015 as an outcome of a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Finance, SOEL reported the establishment of an advisory committee to asses IPSAS adoption; however, at this time, it seems the formal commencement of the committee is still pending.
Finally, SOEL also raises awareness amongst members about IPSAS its quarterly magazine, Accountancy Greece and by organizing IPSAS workshops and training events in its continuing professional development programs.
SOEL is encouraged to consider updating the SMO 5 section in its Action Plan include more up-to-date information and detail on its actions it might have executed or are planning to undertake to promote the adoption of IPSAS in the jurisdiction.
- SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
In Greece, the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board’s (ELTE), the audit oversight authority, is responsible for establishing investigative and disciplinary (I&D) systems for all Certified Public Accountant (CPAs), auditors. At present, the SOEL does not carry out any I&D procedures as legislation states this is the authority of the ELTE.
SOEL indicates that cases referred to ELTE’s investigative and disciplinary process either derive from third-party complaints (i.e., prosecutors, government authorities, individuals, media) or from the quality assurance review system. Penalties can range from a reprimand to revocation of license. In addition, ELTE can impose fines for auditors and firms.
To raise awareness on the I&D process in the jurisdiction, SOEL indicates that it monitors ELTE’s I&D system and publishes related articles online and in its magazine, Accountancy Greece. It is also updating its internal rules on an ongoing basis to ensure consistency with ELTE’s I&D mechanisms.
SOEL does note that it is reviewing how it might become authorized to carry out I&D within the context of the intended reform of the Presidential Decree 226/1992, which governs the institute’s operations. SOEL is proposing that the SOEL create two committees—one for investigation and one for disciplinary purpose—and that the ELTE serve as the appeals mechanism. SOEL reports that since 2016 it is working with the government and ELTE on the legislative adjustments that would harmonize the existing I&D system with the best practices of SMO 6; however, no progress has been achieved.
SOEL is encouraged to provide an update on the legislative changes that would help to address the existing gaps of I&D policies related to CPAs based on its assessment against the best practices of SMO 6.
In addition, SOEL is encouraged to consider elaborating the SMO 6 section in its Action Plan to include relevant information on its actions it might take in regard to the I&D system: e.g. meetings with government and regulators on the legislative adjustments required, raising awareness on the existing gaps of the I&D system, developing training activities based on the outcomes and results of the I&D proceedings. These are examples of best practices that can be shared and highlighted through the Action Plan.
- SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
Under Law 4308/2014, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Development & Competitiveness are responsible for establishing accounting standards in Greece. The Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE) provides advice on these standards. Under the law, public interest entities and other types of entities defined in Article 1.3 of the Law are required to use IFRS Standards as adopted by the EU. All other companies are required to apply the Greek General Accepted Accounting Principles (Greek GAAP), which do differ from the IFRS and may apply IFRS if they wish to do so. IFRS for Small-and Medium-Sized Entities has not been adopted and there are no plans to do so.
SOEL reports that it organizes IFRS training events and offers relevant continuing professional development courses, particularly on new and revised standards, to help members enhance their knowledge and understanding of IFRS. SOEL also assists with technical issues from members who submit requests and inquiries.
SOEL informs members about IASB updates and changes to IFRS on its website, in its newsletter, and in the quarterly magazine Accountancy Greece. It monitors the IASB work program to identify new drafts and final pronouncements, and reviews and provides comments on Exposure Drafts issued by the IASB via the European Financial Reports Advisory Group.
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