Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Greece
Member | Established: 1997 | Member since 1977
The Institute of Certified Accountants of Greece (SOEL) was established in 1992 under Presidential Decree 226/1992. The institute’s mandate includes: (i) registration of auditors; (ii) professional examination of auditors; (iii) organization and provision of initial and continuing education for members of the profession; (iv) participation in the quality assurance review system for auditors subject to Epitropi Logistikis Tipopiisis kai Elehon (the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board)’s directives; and (v) organization and implementation of disciplinary activities for members’ breach of professional conduct rules.
Statements of Membership Obligations (SMOs)
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.
SOEL, through a yet to be fully clarified arrangement, is expected in the future to share responsibility with the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE) for the quality assurance (QA) reviews. At present, SOEL supports ELTE in conducting the QA reviews by providing staffing for the reviews and working with ELTE on defining the respective responsibilities for the QA reviews.
Over the past several years, SOEL’s Quality Control Committee has conducted quality assurance reviews of selected audit firms and alerts the firms of identified weaknesses in their quality control arrangements. To further support this process, SOEL increased the staffing in its Quality Control Committee and collaborates with ELTE’s Quality Control Committee to conduct quality assurance reviews. For 2015–2016, SOEL's Quality Control Committee plans to carry out 98 quality control inspections of non-PIEs by visiting 45 audit firms.
SOEL indicates in its 2015 SMO Action Plan Update that SOEL’s Institute of Education and Training provides training to its members, but more information is needed to understand the range of courses and educational material on quality control that is made available. SOEL plans to translate the Guide to Quality Control for Small and Medium Practices in 2016–2017.
As the QA review system is reported to be in line with SMO 1 requirements, SOEL is encouraged to maintain the ongoing processes to ensure that compliance is being maintained and continue to work with ELTE to define the responsibilities of SOEL and ELTE in the process.
SOEL uses its best effort to comply with SMO 2 through a variety of methods to enhance the education and professional competence of its members. For example, it collaborates with other international IFAC member bodies on the certification examination for members of the profession. In addition, it offers continuing professional development and other educational courses in SOEL’s Institute of Education and Training. 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 and IEPSs. It also participates in the international standard-setting process by providing comments on Exposure Drafts issued by the IAESB. SOEL's Supervisory Council decided to form a team that will compare the requirements of IES to those applied in Greece and prepare a report on the degree of compliance with IES requirements.
Since 2009, there is also a Joint Examination Scheme under which candidates for the profession take the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants examinations in English, and Taxation and Law in Greek, to earn the Certified Public Accountant designation. In 2014, a similar arrangement was formalized between SOEL and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
SOEL is encouraged to continue to liaise with other bodies, such as the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board, that are responsible for professional accountancy education to enhance compliance with the IES. SOEL is also encouraged to report to IFAC’s Quality and Membership staff on the extent of compliance of the relevant requirements in Greece with those of IES.
Having no direct responsibility for the adoption of ISA, SOEL supports the implementation of ISA and other standards issued by the IAASB through its collaboration with the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board, the public oversight body, to translate the standards into Greek. By the end of 2012, the 2009 version of ISA and ISQC 1, and the 2011 version of ISAE 3000, were translated, made publicly available, and disseminated to members of SOEL via print and online.
SOEL has an ongoing educational and training program to enhance member knowledge and competence in the standards issued by the IAASB. It offers training events biannually on ISA and ISAE 3000 in its continuing professional development program.
SOEL regularly monitors and reviews new and amended pronouncements issued by the IAASB to assess how to address implementation issues to keep members of the profession up to date.
SOEL is encouraged to participate in the international standard-setting process in this area by providing comments on IAASB Exposure Drafts and Discussion Papers. There appears to be a translation time lag, and it would be beneficial for SOEL to consider mechanisms to ensure that timely translation of new and revised standards into Greek are made available to members.
With the IESBA Code of Ethics adopted in Greece by law, SOEL and the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE) are responsible for its translation. In its 2015 SMO Action Plan, SOEL indicated that, in cooperation with ELTE, it expected to complete translation of the 2015 IESBA’s Code of Ethics in 2015. SOEL also stated that it will raise awareness and enhance understanding and compliance with the Code of Ethics through the design and implementation of new courses on the revised Code of Ethics.
SOEL supports its members’ adherence to the Code of Ethics by including standard-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 training events. It also publishes information on new and revised IESBA pronouncements in its quarterly magazine, Accountancy Greece.
SOEL is encouraged to showcase the range of learning events and educational material that it provides to members.
SOEL actively promotes the adoption of IPSAS in discussions with government officials and the public oversight body, the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board. It supports the adoption of IPSAS in ongoing public debates about appropriate public sector accounting standards for Greece. SOEL 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.
SOEL also raises awareness and attempts to increase member knowledge about IPSAS through the inclusion of information on IPSAS in its quarterly magazine, Accountancy Greece. In addition, SOEL organizes IPSAS workshops and training events in its continuing professional development programs.
With no direct responsibility for investigating and disciplining its members, SOEL monitors and raises awareness of the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board’s (ELTE) investigation and disciplinary system via publication of articles online and in its magazine, Accountancy Greece. It is also updating its internal rules and is collaborating with ELTE on the establishment of a framework for disciplining members of SOEL and regaining some of its former powers in the area.
In its 2015 SMO Action Plan, SOEL stated that It monitors compliance with reporting standards by scrutinizing published audit reports and as part of the quality assurance review process conducted with ELTE.
As the current legal framework for investigation and discipline of the profession will be revised to align it with EU requirements, SOEL is encouraged to promote to ELTE and other stakeholders the need to address the existing gaps and fully align the existing investigative and disciplinary system with the requirements of SMO 6.
With no direct responsibility for the adoption of accounting standards, SOEL supports the implementation of IFRS in Greece. SOEL 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 provides assistance on technical issues to members who submit written requests and it intends to establish an advisory committee to expand this support mechanism.
SOEL informs members about IASB updates and changes to IFRS on its website, in its newsletter, and In the quarterly journal 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.
SOEL intends to assist members with the implementation of new accounting Law 4308 and is in the process of organizing training courses for its members in 2015.
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