Serbian Association of Accountants and Auditors
Member | Established: 1955 | Member since 1997
The SAAA was established in 1955 and is comprised mainly of accountants and some auditors, who join the association on a voluntary basis. It has played a key role in the provision of Serbian translations of international standards such as IFRS, IFRS for SMEs, ISA, IPSAS, and the IESBA Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. The main objectives of the association are to develop and strengthen the role of the accounting profession in Serbia; promote ethical behavior and adherence by its members to the IESBA Code of Ethics; develop and deliver professional training, examination, certification as well as continuous professional development programs for its members in accordance with IES; monitor its members performance, conduct and adherence to professional standards; represent members of the Serbian accounting profession globally; and promote cooperation between national PAOs.
SAAA is a Member of IFAC and 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
The Serbian Association of Accountants and Auditors (SAAA) operates a voluntary QA review system for non-statutory audit accounting services provided by its members. The responsibility of quality assurance reviews for statutory audits lies with Securities Exchange Commission and KoR with oversight of the Ministry of Finance.
With QA review system was established in 2011 with the assistance of the French Associations Ordre des Experts-Comptables and Compagnie Nationale des Commissaires aux Comptes. Having completed the first phase of the implementation of the system, which involved administering a survey questionnaire for its member firms to identify common areas of deficiencies with ISQC 1, SAAA has embarked on the second phase conducting field reviews. 14 field reviews have been conducted as of 2016 and the association continues to raise awareness of its QA review program and the benefits to and recognition of members who participate.
In 2015, SAAA started an initiative with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales—Quality Accounting Services Network—to improve its existing system and has held six workshops since then focused on improvement of QA methodology and procedures.
SAAA also assists members to strengthen their internal control systems through its translation and publication of the IFAC Guide to Quality Control for Small-and Medium-Sized Practices, 3rd Edition. The association offers training, including joint activities with other professional accountancy organizations in EU countries, to enhance members’ understanding and application of the relevant quality control standards. SAAA states that it reviews the system on a regular basis and SAAA also reports that it continues dialogue with Ministry of Finance and other relevant government entities on quality assurance review systems in the jurisdiction.
SAA is encouraged to continue to monitor and support the implementation of ISQM1 among members who might be auditors when it becomes effective as of December 15, 2022. Resources on the quality management standards are available on the IAASB website.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
There are no prescribed educational requirements for accountants in Serbia—only for statutory auditors. Therefore, the SAAA, which unites accountants and auditors on a voluntary basis, offers qualifications of Accountant, Certified Accountant, and Certified Public Accountant based on the ACCA program and has established the requirements for a final assessment, practical experience, and continuing professional development for its members. A 2017 World Bank assessment indicated that the requirements for the Certified Public Accountant were in line with the revised 2015 requirements while the Certified Accountant program could be improved in areas such as governance, risk, ethics, and corporate reporting. The CPD requirements are in line with IES 7’s input-based approach of 120 hours over 3 years.
In 2016, SAAA also signed a mutual recognition agreement with Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), which includes full recognition and CIPFA membership for SAAA members (CA and CPA) as well as development of a specialized stream for Public Sector Accountants designation. In 2019, it developed a Forensic Accountant qualification and in 2020, established an online proctoring platform for its exams in response to COVID.
SAAA indicates it promotes the incorporation of IES requirements for all professional accountants to the government through articles, seminars, workshops, and meetings. The SAAA also reports that it collaborates with academic institutions in Serbia to ensure that members of the profession have sufficient access to quality initial accountancy education programs.
While it seems that requirements of the 2015 revised IES are in place for accountants, SAAA is encouraged to review and complete the IES Checklist developed by IFAC which may be useful in progressing with the adoption of the revised requirements of the IES, especially IES 2, 3, 4 and 8 that are effective as of January 2021. The revisions to these standards reflect the need for competency-based approaches as well as the increasing demand for accountants skilled in information and communications technologies and place further emphasis on professional skepticism skills and behaviors. SAAA may also consider utilizing the IFAC Accountancy Education E-Tool to review the current version of IESs and share these requirements with its members and stakeholders.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
The Law on Auditing of 2019 requires application of ISA for the performance of audits in Serbia as translated into Serbian and promulgated by the Ministry of Finance. As of 2021, the 2016-2017 IAASB Handbook has been promulgated by the Ministry. The Serbian Association of Accountants and Auditors (SAAA) is responsible for the translation of audit standards in line with IFAC’s Translation Policy and has translated several IAASB Handbook versions over the years. However, it recognizes that there are delays, which can hinder adoption and implementation. It is in working with the Ministry of Finance to coordinate more timely translations of new and revised standards.
The association also indicates it organizes training for its members who conduct financial statement audits and regularly updates initial professional development and continuous professional development programs and material to include amendments to ISA issued by IAASB.
In addition, the association established a system to solicit feedback on Exposure Drafts issued by IAASB to raise awareness of changes to ISA and to encourage participation in the international standard-setting process.
The 2018 IAASB Handbook was effective December 2019 and contains revisions to ISA 250 and ISA 540. SAAA should, where possible, prioritize the translation of these standards for approval by the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the most recent version of ISA is adopted for application in the jurisdiction. The SAA should also include more up-to-date implementation support (e.g., trainings for members) it is providing within its Action Plan.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
The association plays an important role in supporting the implementation of the IESBA Code of Ethics, which has been adopted by law for auditors and through the SAAA’s requirements for its members that join voluntarily. SAAA performs translation of the IESBA Code and as of 2021 has translated the 2018 version of the Code, which is being applied in the jurisdiction by members of both PAOs.
It also indicates it supports members with the implementation of the Code by offering an ethics module in its qualification program, hosting at least three ethics courses and seminars throughout the calendar year, and updating its programs in accordance with amendments to the Code issued by IESBA. The SAAA prepared and disseminated an Ethics Toolkit that features common ethical dilemma faced by members and appropriate actions to address them.
The association also reports that it participates in the international standard-setting process by providing comments on Exposure Drafts issued by IESBA.
There upcoming revisions to the Code in the 2020 Handbook – also available in the IESBA eCode — including revisions to Part 4B of the Code?to reflect terms and concepts used in the IAASB's International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3000 (Revised), which are effective June 2021 and revisions to promote the role and mindset expected of all professional accountants which are effective in December 2021. SAAA is encouraged to continue its timely translation efforts in this area to ensure that professionals can implement the revisions once effective. SAAA should also include more up-to-date implementation support it is providing within its Action Plan.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
The Serbian Association of Accountants and Auditors (SAAA) reports that cash-basis IPSAS was adopted in Serbia in 2003 through Government Decision on Adoption (49/2010) and that the Ministry of Finance is in the process of transition to accrual–based IPSAS by 2025. This is also reflected in the 2020 IFAC/CIPFA Public Sector Financial Accountability Index and the World Bank/CFRR’s 2020 Stocktaking of Public Sector Accounting and Reporting Environment in PULSAR Beneficiary Countries: Serbia.
In this area, SAAA indicates it participates in a government Working Group focused on the transition from cash- to accrual-basis IPSAS and has developed a Public Sector IPSAS Implementation Working group to address key issues, facilitate dialogue, and act as a resource. SAAA translated the 2013 edition of the IPSAS Handbook as part of its technical support.
In addition, because SAAA has an active public sector membership, it publishes IPSAS related information online and in other publications. SAAA hosts regular seminars on public sector accounting and on the challenges related to adoption and implementation of IPSAS. It also states it offers training on up-to-date version of IPSAS, and in 2016 signed a MoU with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in the UK to establish specialized qualification in public sector accounting with reciprocal membership.
SAAA is encouraged to continue its advocacy and support toward accrual-basis IPSAS. Adoption and implementation of accrual IPSAS as issued by the IPSASB would ensure application of global best practice. Several revisions to IPSAS have been issued since 2013 and SAAA may consider if it can translate the 2021 IPSASB Handbook which was effective as of January 2021. SAAA could also consider participating in the international standards setting process by providing comments on Exposure Drafts issued by IPSASB.
It may find IFAC’s Train the Trainers: Introduction to IPSAS resource helpful for training and educational activities it offers.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
SAAA reports that it has incorporated the SMO 6 requirements in the I&D system it operates to address non-compliance by its member with applicable laws, regulations, and the Code of Ethics. It has separate investigation, discipline, and appeals committees and does have recourse through the Serbian legal system to sanction members for non-compliance, if necessary.
SAAA states that it maintains a dialogue with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and other relevant authorities to strengthen its I&D mechanism. In addition, it raises its members’ awareness of the I&D system to deter non-compliance.
The SAAA is encouraged to confirm the self-assessment against the requirements of the SMO 6 reflects its procedures alignment with best practice. SAAA should also include more up-to-date information regarding operations of these procedures and cases within its Action Plan.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) is responsible for the adoption and promulgation of accounting standards in the Republic of Serbia in accordance with the Law on Accounting 2019. The MoF adopted IFRS as translated into Serbian for the preparation of the financial statements of large companies and Public Interest Entities as defined in the Law on Accounting. It also adopted IFRS for SMEs for application by small- and medium-sized entities and grants medium-sized entities the option to use IFRS.
Since 2013, the MoF has been solely responsible for the translation of IFRS. Historically, given the time lag between the issuance of new IFRS and their translation into Serbian, the SAAA has supported the MoF with these translations. The 2019 version of IFRS and the 2015 version of IFRS for SMEs have been translated into Serbian. The SAAA reports that it has not yet translated and published subsequent editions of IFRS but it has included them in trainings for members and disseminates updates as needed.
There is a 2021 version of the IFRS Standards. As feasible and as part of its role on the MoF translation committee, SAAA is encouraged to advocate for and support timely translation efforts in this area to ensure that professionals have access to and can properly implement the most recent version of IFRS once effective. SAAA could also include more up-to-date examples of implementation support it is providing within its Action Plan.
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