Almost twenty years ago, the IFAC Member Compliance Program launched to spur accountancy organizations worldwide to work with their members, regulators, standard setters, and other key stakeholders to strengthen the profession by requiring specific actions to support the accountancy profession. Through the Program, IFAC Members and Associates improve the quality of the accountancy profession by adopting and supporting implementation of international audit and assurance, education, ethics and independence, financial reporting, and public sector accounting standards. They are also required to operate or support robust quality assurance and investigation and disciplinary mechanisms.
IFAC’s requirements for members are codified in the Statements of Membership Obligations (SMOs)—a clear framework of globally applicable requirements. The SMOs are recognized as the international benchmarks for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) that are focused on and have the necessary expertise to serve the public interest and meet market demands. The IFAC requirements are frequently referenced in World Bank’s Reports on Observance of Standards and Codes–Accounting & Auditing and, most recently, the Member Compliance Program was included by the OECD’s Partnership of International Organisations for Effective Rulemaking as an example of an international rulemaking implementation best practice.
Participation in the Member Compliance Program is a mandatory component of IFAC membership—but IFAC membership itself is voluntary. The positive global influence, recognition, and successes of the Member Compliance Program is in part due to several factors.
- The accountancy profession has an inherent duty and public interest mandate worldwide. It is the only profession that has an International Code of Ethics, which sets out the fundamental principles of ethics for professional accountants and applies to all professional accountants irrespective of their roles and responsibilities. This provides a strong foundation for ethical decision-making, integrity, and transparency.
- The Member Compliance Program involves constant interaction between IFAC member organizations, Network Partners, and staff that drives understanding and changes at national and regional levels. The program reflects IFAC’s vision and belief in the impact that capable PAOs can have.
- The Compliance Program is not just words without action; it is about progress and results. Regular action plans developed by IFAC member organizations allow them to illustrate their progress toward fulfilling the membership requirements by detailing their plans for adoption and implementation support. These action plans are then used as part of IFAC’s assessment of progress.
- IFAC’s assessments incorporate a ‘Plan-Do-Act-Review’ cycle along with ratings related to member organizations’ progress with the membership obligations. IFAC provides recommendations alongside these ratings to help direct IFAC member organizations to support and resources for areas with lower ratings. If progress stalls, the assessments provide a basis for honest consideration of necessary actions or, in extreme cases, a basis for IFAC to consider removing a PAO from membership.
While the Compliance Program has evolved over the years—most distinctly from collecting to assessing and monitoring information—a focus on transparency and trust has remained resolute. The most recent iteration of IFAC Members’ and Associates’ Action Plans is published on the IFAC website. Since 2016, all IFAC member organizations have a jurisdictional and organizational profile available online via IFAC’s Global Impact Map, which details the legal and regulatory environment, the status of adoption of required standards, and members’ role and activities in the adoption and implementation process. These profiles are updated regularly and power IFAC’s reporting on the global status of international standards.
Although the world has changed a great deal since the Member Compliance Program launched, its principles and objectives remain steadfast and applicable today.
IFAC has created a tutorial on how to use the Global Impact Map to find the information from the Member Compliance Program that meets your needs. We always welcome feedback from users of our information; please reach out to the IFAC Member Compliance Program.