Greater accountability in accounting

RESTORING the reputation of the accounting industry is one of the key goals for new Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australian national president Geoff Brayshaw.

Mr Brayshaw, who is also managing partner of BDO in Perth, believes the industry’s image has taken a beating thanks to high-profile corporate collapses such as OneTel, HIH and Ansett.

The fallout from the Royal Commission into WA’s finance broking industry also offers some concerns – particularly for auditors.

“Accountants tend to get some of the fallout from these events, whether we deserve it or not,” Mr Brayshaw said.

“But we have to make sure we differentiate the profession and its standards from the conduct of individuals.

“I have to carry the can as a self regulator. The institute has to be seen to take its responsibilities seriously as a self-regulator.

“When the time is right we have to be seen to take action against individuals if it is warranted.

“However, these individuals must be given every opportunity to seek due process.

“We’re not just regulating ourselves within our own market. We’re doing so in the global market.

“Our new professional standards are currently under review.”

One of the standards-related issues facing the profession is independence, which is being tackled globally by the International Federation of Accounting.

A key example of an accountant’s independence being questioned was the removal of PricewaterhouseCoopers from its role as Ansett administrator.

Union groups complained that PwC had done work for Ansett’s parent Air New Zealand and questioned its independence.

“I think the standard the federation is putting together is the one the Federal Government will be looking to us to adopt,” Mr Brayshaw said.

He believes one of his other roles will be to act as an ambassador for WA and show that people from this State can make a difference at a national level.

He joins CPA Australia president and WA Auditor General Des Pearson in this.

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