By Katka Benešová, head of ACCA Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary
This year marks the ACCA office in Prague changing the way professional accountants develop careers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary for 10 years.
Earlier this month ACCA’s vice president, Anthony Harbinson, hosted a gala dinner in Prague to mark this great anniversary. Together with members and partners we discussed and celebrated how the past 10 years have been.
In reaching this milestone, we felt that it was time to look at how the accountants’ role, reputation and public value is perceived among our members and students. We commissioned extensive research on the Changing role of the finance professional in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia – 271 respondents were polled.
Despite the economic issues of past the five years, accountants believe that the public perception of them has improved or stayed the same since 2008 (50 per cent). However 37 per cent said it had declined. Technical skills (61 per cent) and trustworthiness (57 per cent) were considered to be key personal attributes for accountants. They are followed by professional ethics and personal integrity (49 per cent).
Eighty per cent of the accountants who responded to our research believe professional accountancy bodies help ensure those within the profession act responsibly.
Czech and Slovak accountants often deal with conflicting demands. Eighty-five per cent said they follow the interest of their employers. But 51 per cent say accountants should follow the public interest in their work. Eighteen per cent of accountants reported that they have had serious dilemmas between public, personal and their employers’ interests.
The findings of our survey revealed the accountancy profession is keen to act ethically and responsibly for the commercial success of their company, financial markets’ stability and economic prosperity. It is good to see that our members see certain transactions and acts as an ethical dilemma and we also appreciate their openness to share this information in our report.
The research findings shows that professional accountants are seen as business partners and contribute to the overall business success of their organisations. This will have a positive impact on the local profession, and professional accountants, regarding what value they bring to the organisation. And as they already face ethical dilemmas in their jobs, this can also have a positive impact on the local economy in the Czech Republic building transparency and enhancing public value.