Archives For Barry Cooper

Perfect pairing

aksaroya —  23 August 2013 — Leave a comment

By Professor Barry J Cooper, ACCA President

The alliance between a small business and the accountant is good for both – and for the economy.

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While the role of the CFO in the major listed company or the work of the auditor in a multinational company may be the areas that dominate the headlines, ACCA has never lost sight of the fact that the work thousands of our members do in helping the development of SMEs is hugely significant for the health and growth of all economies around the world.

With 45% of our members having at some point worked for an SME, the finance professional clearly plays a major role in this sector. As a body which has long called on regulators and standard setters to ‘think small first’, we’re now focusing our attention on small businesses themselves to make them aware of the value of the professional accountant.

Our ‘Accountants for small business‘ campaign also aims to raise awareness of how new or young businesses can build professional finance teams and why there is such a need for complete finance professionals who can develop with these businesses. ACCA will also be working to build partnerships with business associations, government agencies and service providers to provide practical resources and support for SMEs looking to invest in internal finance functions.

There is a wider benefit to this campaign that goes beyond ACCA’s desire to ensure that businesses are aware of the skills our members can bring them. The campaign will emphasise the importance and benefits of having more formalised businesses in driving economic development, particularly in emerging markets, where a growth in such businesses will enable governments not only to achieve predictable revenues but also to develop and implement policy more effectively because such businesses have a greater voice and presence.

The accountancy professional is a natural ally in this process.

ACCA wants to play its role fully by ensuring that stakeholders in SMEs, whether they are business owners and management, finance providers, government agencies or employees, have the information they need presented in a way they understand to enable them to take the right action.

I have seen at first-hand the work that our members do for SMEs and I know they can meet the challenges and take the new opportunities that this new campaign will bring.

This article first appeared in Accounting and Business, June 2013.


Don’t ignore the draft

aksaroya —  22 May 2013 — 1 Comment

By Barry Cooper, ACCA president

Engaging in the IIRC’s consultation is vital in developing the integrated reporting framework.

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It has always been a source of pride to me that ACCA has been at the forefront of developments within the accountancy profession – the move to ensuring that our syllabus was based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) being just one.

Now ACCA is once again demonstrating its pioneering credentials by not only being one of the first adopters of integrated reporting (IR) – having produced our most recent annual report to IR principles – but also by calling for the business community, companies and investors alike to ensure they help shape the future of IR.

We have urged these groups to respond to the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) consultation draft on the integrated reporting framework to help develop a new corporate reporting model. This will enable organisations to communicate their activities more effectively and provide clear information to stakeholders.

In my meetings with members, employers and tuition providers, many have commented favourably on our first annual report produced along IR lines – which enabled our stakeholders to see the bigger picture brought together in what is hopefully an easily digested document. Our next report will be another step along the IR route.

But this initiative is not only an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and innovation in the accountancy profession. It is also critical that those you advise play their part in helping to shape the future of integrated reporting, by looking at issues and challenges which can be addressed now and which ensure that the IIRC gets the full picture.

You have a critical role to play, and I urge you and your companies to engage in the consultation process.

This post first appeared in Accounting and Business magazine, May 2013

China makes the case

aksaroya —  24 April 2013 — Leave a comment

China’s experience of IFRS convergence makes a convincing case for other economies, says ACCA president Barry Cooper

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Given China’s increasing influence in the world, not only as producer but as major consumer, there’s growing interest in how to do business there. I’ve worked in China on and off for over 25 years and have been fascinated to see how it has developed into an economic world power.

With that growth has come some challenges, not least in the US where the Securities and Exchange Commission recently raised questions about the ways in which Chinese companies report their performance. So I was particularly interested to see some research commissioned by ACCA, which has looked at the impact of China’s convergence with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and what it has meant for corporate reporting.

The ACCA report, produced independently by Dr Edward Lee and Professor Martin Walker of Manchester University, together with Dr Colin Zeng of the University of Bristol, shows that IFRS convergence has benefitted the Chinese economy, by making accounting earnings more informative and therefore more useful to domestic and international investors.

After examining all Chinese companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges between 2003 and 2009 the study found that the value relevance of earnings (the degree to which changes in reported earnings affect share prices) had increased following IFRS convergence in 2007, almost certainly as a result of convergence itself. The research also revealed that IFRS convergence resulted in better quality corporate disclosures only where there were other strong incentives for companies to do so, such as a high level of dependence on the equity markets for funding.

The findings underline the importance of IFRS as the international standard for financial reporting, particularly where companies have legal, governance and commercial incentives to provide high-quality disclosures. Convergence has undoubtedly worked for China. Other emerging economies – along with some significant developed ones yet to converge with IFRS – must now take notice. To consolidate and build on the benefits of convergence, the legal and regulatory accounting framework will need to be enhanced on a continuous basis, which will provide challenges and opportunities for all finance professionals.

Professor Barry J Cooper is head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance at Deakin University, Australia

This post first appeared in Accounting and Business, International edition, April 2013


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By Barry Cooper, ACCA President

I would like to take this opportunity to send you all the best wishes for the Chinese New Year, which is now celebrated around the world. The Year of the Snake will be an important one not only for China and Asia, but for the whole world given the region’s economic importance and influence.

One of the key areas that Asian organisations will need to look at more closely, in common with their counterparts around the world, is how prepared they are to adopt a more sustainable approach in their operations. It’s important not just for how environmentally friendly businesses are perceived to be now, but for future generations too, which may have to pay a high price for any lack of global action.

ACCA recently published a report, The green economy: pushes and pulls on Corporate China, which asks whether corporate Asia is ready for the green economy. It concludes that the next few years will be critical ones in the shift to a more sustainable economy in Asia. All stakeholders will have to work together if sustainability is to be successfully adopted. Governments will need to promote green growth; investors will need to incorporate environmental, social and governance considerations into their decision-making; and companies will need to develop goods and services that minimise their environmental and social impact.

What was good to see from the report is that the business case for sustainability is gaining momentum in Asia and that leading companies are integrating sustainability into their corporate culture and decision-making processes. They are already seeing the benefits not only in terms of lower dependency on natural resources, but also in increased sales; customers from around the world are looking at sustainability issues before they make decisions about when, where and from whom to buy.

As accountants, you are well placed to help  businesses and the wider economy they operate in to measure, manage and report on their environmental and social impact, and to enable more organisations to adopt green practices. I wish you every success in this critical mission.

This post first appeared in Accounting and business, UK edition, February 2013

Truly international standards

aksaroya —  23 January 2013 — 2 Comments

By Barry Cooper, ACCA President

The growth of Islamic finance brings a need for harmonising its standards with those of IFRS.

Barry Cooper-0513Towards the end of last year, I was delighted to take part in ACCA’s International Assembly. We heard from some outstanding speakers and looked at a number of key issues, including the progress being made on globalisation of standards and the increasing role played by emerging economies in the standard setting process.

These discussions chimed with a report, Global alignment, produced by ACCA and KPMG which called for consistency and harmonisation in the way in which Islamic financial institutions report, and for the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Islamic finance industry to work together to develop guidance and standards, and to educate the investor community on key issues.

It also suggested the IASB consider issuing guidance on the application of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) when accounting for certain Islamic financial products; that it review the needs of the report users with leading Islamic finance standard setters and regulators; and that Islamic financial institutions should form an expert advisory group to help develop standards.

There have already been signs of progress. IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst told the International Assembly that the IASB was considering establishing an Islamic finance advisory committee. This is an excellent start but, given the growing importance of Islamic finance, everyone involved in the sector needs to work to ensure that the sector operates to consistent and harmonised standards.

This post first appeared in Accounting and Business International, January 2013