Education for International Accounting

Recently, the IAESB (International Accounting Education Standards Board) released an exposure draft of its 2014-2016 Strategy and Work Plan. The plan states “the IAESB is proposing to provide implementation guidance, engage in advocacy, and contribute to capacity building within the accounting profession. This scope of work is intended to enhance the public confidence in the competence and judgment of accounting professionals.”  The IAESB is the “independent standard-setting body” under the International federation of Accountants (IFC) that “develops education standards, guidance, and information papers for use by IFC member bodies and other stakeholders.” With all the legislative changes on the horizon, it is a good thing that the IAESB is looking at implementing new strategies for education in international accounting.

International accounting is becoming an ever more complex area of specialization, with its own standards and regulations to comply with, and it is up to the next generation of accounting students to learn to adapt to the ever evolving global marketplace. Many universities and accounting schools are creating specialized coursework in international accounting practices and standards. The IAESB is rightly looking into improving the standards of education across the board; this includes the creation of educational benchmarks, promoting the adoption of IAESB standards worldwide and advocating for the “provision, promotion and harmonization of accounting education standards that seek to: (a) Improve the quality of professional accounting education worldwide to enhance the competence and judgment of professional accountants; and (b) Contribute to the development of the accountancy profession worldwide by assisting in building human capacity in accounting.” While over 100 bodies worldwide have already adopted IFC and IAESB standards, increasing compliance across the globe can only benefit businesses and countries all over.

Individuals and businesses engaged in the global business markets must have confidence that their international accountant is cognizant of the challenges before them and can ensure compliance to international standards. Acknowledging what they call “the trend towards global convergence and the increasing mobility of professional accountants,” the IAESB is openly encouraging the broad-spectrum adoption of international accounting standards in education.  This also includes engaging stakeholders such as policy-makers, educators, regional organizations, and other professional accounting organizations in the development of global accounting standards.

With organizations such as the IAESB actively advocating for the adoption of educational benchmarks and global standards across the financial spectrum, confidence in international accounting can only go up.  Comments on the Plan from the general public and stakeholders are encouraged up until October 4, 2013. Those interested in commenting can submit their comments directly at the IAESB website, and all comments must be in both PDF and Word formats. The Plan is expected to be implemented in early 2014 and will be in effect until December 2016.

International accounting is increasingly becoming a complex and challenging area and professionals, policymakers, and the general public must feel confident that students are being trained well enough and to high enough standards as to not become a liability to the companies and individuals they are meant to be serving.

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