Accountancy body pledges to help rebuild any lost trust in profession
Finance professionals working in Bahrain and the Middle East have been urged to ensure that they continue working to the highest ethical standards in order to avoid the scandals that have hit other regions - with ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) pledging to support them in helping to restore any lost trust in the financial sector.
A networking event organised by ACCA in Manama heard from His Excellency Dr Abdul-Hussain Bin Ali Mirza, Minister of State for Electricity and Water Affairs, himself an accountant by training. He said that the accountancy profession still felt repercussions following the financial scandals of the past decade on a daily basis and he voiced his concern that more problems may still be uncovered.
Those scandals had, he said led to a “general loss of trust and confidence in exactly the supposed ‘guardian’ of corporate transparency and integrity – the auditor.”
His Excellency went on to say that the profession, while still reeling after over one decade of crisis-after-crisis, must reinvent itself, and continue to strive to restore trust in individuals, the profession, and its systems.
He said that one of the biggest challenges facing the youth in today’s competitive environment was the attainment of the necessary skills to become a valuable member of society.
He said the Government of Bahrain had demonstrated its commitment to the development of the Accountants profession by sponsoring more than 650 Bahrainis to study for a range of qualifications with ACCA.
“This is the first time that such a large number of Bahrainis have been offered the opportunity to study for professional, rather than academic qualifications, as trends have shown that professional qualifications such as ACCA go a long way towards helping individuals achieve their professional career objectives, “ said His Excellency.
He said it was “doubly important that we train the future generation of accountants and auditors to think independently, think ethically, think sustainably. This training can only be achieved through operating in a culture of independence and trust. The onus to instil this sense in the accountants and auditors of tomorrow rests on academic institutions, on professional organizations such as ACCA, on government regulators and ultimately on us as individuals.”
The Minister said the accountancy profession had become wiser and, having learned from the mistakes of the past, it was adapting to change and becoming more innovative and pro-active and concentrating more on strategy, corporate governance and risk management and building a stronger profession for tomorrow.
He concluded by leaving a challenge for the younger generation of finance professionals.
“There are valuable lessons for all of us from these corporate failures. But the onus is on you to re-establish trust and market confidence. Finally, I strongly urge you all to promote the image of the Profession by setting the example and paving the way for a better future for the new generation of accountants yet to come, “ he said.
Stuart Dunlop, ACCA’s Regional Director for MENASA underlined the work the body was doing, and said that ACCA professionals were expected to adhere to the highest standards, including blowing the whistle on unethical practice in the organisation for which they worked -even if that action might negatively impact on their future prospects.
He stressed that ethics and integrity was at the heart of ACCA's Competency Framework. He said that these qualities had been identified as being critical by employers in a recent survey of finance leaders from around the world.
The vast majority of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) looking to appoint new staff for their businesses believed it was important for each potential employee to have both a breadth and depth of finance expertise and capabilities, with 94% saying it was important to have a good understanding of professionalism and ethics.
Speaking after the event Stuart Dunlop said: “ ACCA is committed to working in partnership with tuition providers, employers and the Government here and around the world. It is very important to ensure that in developing the complete finance professional with the skills and qualities being sought by businesses, there is a clear understanding by our students and members that they should not only be good financial professionals, but finance professionals who are good. ”
One of the senior finance professionals to attend the event was Adnan Hashim, CFO of NCB Capital, a fellow of ACCA, who said:
“Trust comes with time and must begin from within. We are seeing a huge change in expectations placed on finance professionals who are not only expected to provide data, but to also provide analysis and insight to enhance business decisions, measure corporate performance, and engage in strategy formulation. In order to gain the trust of both business and the regulator it is essential to maintain a high level of transparency in all financial matters and exposures.”