Public sector needs CPAs

THERE should be more chartered accountants within the public sector, according to newly appointed Institute of Chartered Accountants WA regional manager Con Abbott.

“Traditionally, government organisations have not necessarily seen the need for the skills of chartered accountants,” he said.

“However, with an increasing emphasis placed on corporate governance, quality financial administration and application of the GST, there has never been a greater need for chartered accountants at senior management level to ensure that public funds are used in the most efficient and effective manner.”

Mr Abbott replaces Peter Watson, who was with the Institute for five and a half years.

A long-standing member of the Institute, Mr Abbott hopes to continue the Institute’s focus on providing better services to its members.

He has more than 20 years’ experience as a chartered accountant, much of which within the government sector.

He worked in the Corporate Affairs Department between 1985 and 1991.

A three year stint with the Department of Commerce and Trade followed as did time with the Insurance Commission, most recently as WA chief financial officer.

“The Institute must continue to demonstrate its relevance to members by providing them with services that add value to their professional development and enable them to better serve their clients’ and employers’ businesses,” Mr Abbott said.

He said the public sector was often involved in managing substantial budgets and, in a highly scrutinised environment, it was important that senior managers were equipped to deal with the increasing demands.

The Institute also intends to increase its membership within the public sector. Only 2 per cent of its 2,700 WA members are public servants.

However, Mr Abbott said it was not the aim of the Institute to be the biggest, just to provide quality service to its members.

Ranking alongside greater accountability and transparency was the demand for ethics, he said.

“We have quite a strong rule of ethical training – which is crucial in today’s business world,” Mr Abbott said.

“The corporate governance concept has really taken off. Ethical conduct is paramount, although I think it always has been.

“However, now the community is demanding it even more.”

He believes that the role of chartered accountants continues to broaden from the traditional compliance areas such as audit and tax, with a far greater emphasis now on the adviser role in helping business become more successful.

“Business continues to seek out the skills of chartered accountants and our members apply their strong commercial expertise across all industries in a range of financial and business advisory capacities,” he said.

“The high quality of chartered accountants’ skills and knowledge means that our members are very much the first choice for business advice.”

“The skills and training of chartered accountants are second to none and they should be the first point of call for business.”

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