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The Accountancy Profession and Employers Can Do More to Prepare Accountants for Finance Leadership

New IFAC Discussion Paper Kindles Global Debate on Finance Leadership and Professional Accountants

Oct 10, 2013 | New York, New York | English

To stimulate a global debate on preparing accountants for finance leadership, IFAC, the global organization for the accountancy profession, today released a new Discussion Paper, The Role and Expectations of a CFO. The paper features five principles that highlight the changing expectations, scope, and mandate of the chief financial officer (CFO) and finance leadership roles and recommends actions professional accountancy organizations and employers can take to prepare professional accountants for career progression to finance leadership.

These principles and recommended actions raise awareness of the implications for the education, training, and development of professional accountants. The Discussion Paper will be used as a basis to engage professional accountancy organizations, employers, and other stakeholders to share and enhance approaches to preparing professional accountants for finance leadership.

The Discussion Paper is also important to the regulatory community, which strives for well-governed and managed organizations. The CFO is a critical part of a chain of actors—including the governing body, chief executive officer, audit committee, and auditor—that share responsibility for ensuring sustainable value creation, as well as relevant organizational reporting. The advantages that professional accountants’ training, expertise, and experience bring to the CFO role are not always recognized, especially professional accountants’ combination of ethical and technical mindsets with business acumen and organizational awareness.

“In these tough economic times, the objectivity and values of the professional accountant can be of enormous value to finance leadership positions in organizations in every economic sector,” said Roger Tabor, chair of IFAC’s Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) Committee. “But professional accountants in finance leadership roles aren’t universal and, in some parts of the world, their numbers are declining. So it is more important than ever for the profession to develop outstanding professionals who are well equipped to work in business and government, and to take on finance leadership roles.”

“Working closely with employers to understand their needs and requirements helps the accountancy profession to deliver business-ready accountants,” according to Susanna Chiu, chair of the PAIB Committee’s Role, Domain, and Competency Advisory Group, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and director of Li & Fung Development (China) Ltd. “The education and training of professional accountants should incorporate broader managerial capabilities and skills. Professional accountancy organizations should foster a commitment to lifelong learning and become more innovative in how they engage and serve professional accountants in business.”

A panel of finance leaders from China and the PAIB Committee will debate the key requirements and expectations of finance leadership and highlight what professional accountants need to do to prepare for leadership roles at the Global PAIB Forum, hosted by the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Beijing, China, on October 16, 2013. The Forum will facilitate discussion and encourage closer relationships between professional accountants, professional accountancy organizations, employers, and other stakeholders.

An At a Glance publication is also available to provide an overview of the Discussion Paper, key discussion questions, and additional details relating to this initiative.

How to Participate
IFAC will use the Discussion Paper in conjunction with outreach to initiate a global debate among professional accountancy organizations, professional accountants, and other stakeholders. Respondents can also submit their comments electronically through the IFAC website, using the “Submit a Comment” button on the Discussion Paper page.

About the PAIB Committee
The PAIB Committee serves IFAC member bodies and professional accountants worldwide who work in commerce, industry, financial services, education, and the public and the not-for-profit sectors. Its aim is to promote and contribute to the value of professional accountants in business by increasing awareness of the important roles professional accountants play, supporting member bodies in enhancing the competence of their members, and facilitating the communication and sharing of good practices and ideas.

About IFAC
IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession, dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. It is comprised of 173 members and associates in 129 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.


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