By Helen Brand, chief executive, ACCA
Six thousand accountants, four days, and countless meetings: the 2010 World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) may have been absolutely exhausting but it was a brilliant experience nonetheless. Without a doubt, Kuala Lumpur was a confidence booster for the profession and for ACCA.
I was deeply impressed with the ACCA presence over the four days. The breadth and depth of our work since WCOA in Istanbul four years ago really showed through. We had plenty to say, and we could say it with conviction and coherency. Thanks have to go to everyone at ACCA that contributed to making the event such a success for us.
Despite the full-on nature of the congress, I was able to leave satisfied with what we had achieved and I believe we showed ourselves to be the global professional body. During the week it became clear that the global profession expects a lot from us, and that there is a very high pressure on us to maintain our standards.
Impressive too was the type of profession on show. With 6,000-plus accountants attending – a record – the global dimension of our profession was visible to all, with delegates not just from traditional markets, but huge numbers from emerging markets too.
Significantly, WCOA didn't play host to a defensive profession, unsure of itself, but rather I saw a confident, forward-looking profession; an accountancy profession that was sure of its place in the world and was ready to help take business and the global economy in new directions.
My personal highlight was the signing of the ACCA/CICPA (the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants) memorandum of understanding (pictured above). There was such a buzz in the room; a palpable sense of excitement. The room was full of our members who are always massively enthusiastic and make everything such a positive experience. They are a credit to the organisation. And, of course, the leaders of the world's professional bodies and IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants) were also there to witness and enjoy the occasion.
Collaboration with other organisations – we have agreements with dozens of professional organisations, including CICPA – will be important for the profession going forward. With global challenges such as developing approaches to ethics and professionalism in business and supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the combined experiences of national and global bodies will really make a difference.
IFAC will have a key role to play here. Having helped organise such a successful congress and with global reach, IFAC – the umbrella organisation for leading accountancy bodies, including ACCA – has a real opportunity to take a lead on issues such as professional mobility, global accountancy standards, and the global development if the profession.
So, having just completed an incredibly successful 2010 World Congress of Accountants, I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to the 2014 event in Rome. The World Congress is the one occasion where everyone in the profession comes together to help develop the global profession. As the global professional accountancy body, developing the global profession is our raison d'être. We'll be there.