ACCA brings auditors to account

15:29 | 12/06/2012
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) chief executive officer Helend Brand sheds some light on Vietnam’s accounting and auditing development path, its current state and ACCA’s commitments to help the country train world-class accountancy and auditing human resources.

ACCA has been present in Vietnam more than the decade, how could you evaluate the accounting and auditing human resource to meet the business’ demand?

The accounting and auditing industry in Vietnam has developed rapidly since its establishment in Vietnam during the 1990s. 

However, with only 2,000 qualified accountants and 160 auditing firms to date, the supply of human resources for this industry remains limited compared to the huge demand of Vietnam’s fast growing economy. 

We expect the growth to accelerate as the independent auditing law came into effect earlier this year, which set up a sound legal framework to improve the management of independent accounting firms and to enhance transparency for enterprises and the economy.

ACCA is continually cooperating with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and other local associations and law-makers to increase the quantity and improve the quality, of human resource in this industry.  We have partnered with universities and training institutions to build capacity for Vietnamese new generations of auditors. 

In April 2012, ACCA signed an Agreement of Cooperation on Joint Examination Scheme with the MoF, in which ACCA will support in providing high quality services, support members in training, updating professional knowledge, assist members in maintaining high standards on professionalism, ethics and qualification. In addition, ACCA also committed to fund full scholarships to MoF officers to attend ACCA courses, in order for the MoF to build a workforce of accountants having intensive experiences and reaching international standards; prepare for the future succession and contribute to bridge the gap between Vietnam and other countries in accounting and auditing.

Should Vietnam’s accounting and auditing resources be re-assessed to meet growing demands from business?

As stated previously, the supply of human resources for this industry is now meeting only a fraction of the demand from the market.  Because of its increasing prominence in the economy, accounting is considered a “hot” profession, hence the rise in the number of auditors in the market. We view this healthy and necessary development for the industry as this will boost the competitiveness of the auditors, increase the general level of competency, and produce a bigger network for support and exchange for auditors. 

Having been in Vietnam for 10 years, we have trained and granted ACCA certificates to hundreds of Vietnamese professional accountants.  We believe that if the given appropriate trainings, Vietnamese accountants can attain the expertise and professionalism on par with their international counterparts.  However, to date only a small number of professional accountants have accessed and gained internationally recognised certifications. 

Realising this need, ACCA has been actively contributing to the resolution of qualified accounting human resources through its rigorous training courses and organising high-qualified examinations, awarding international certificates and a number of qualifications relating to the practice in accounting, auditing, finance and management to Vietnamese professionals. 

How has ACCA contributed to entrepreneurial transparency?

In our 10 years of operation in Vietnam, ACCA have contributed to the efforts to enhance the transparency of the local industry by providing input and feedback to policy makers, leveraging our experience as the world’s largest and fast growing accounting and auditing institutions.  We have actively engaged in policy dialogues to promote for the application of International Accounting Standards (IAS) in different sectors of the economy by showcasing successful examples in other countries.  In addition, ACCA puts high priority on ethics in our training programmes.

All ACCA students have to pass an exam in ethics in order to become a member.  With our rigorous training focusing on both expertise and ethical standards, ACCA has helped to produce new generations of auditors with excellent skill sets and integrity who appreciate and promote a more transparent environment.

What is the meaning for Vietnamese enterprises of adopting international accounting standards when approaching international capital markets? What has the ACCA been doing to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access finance in other countries as well as in Vietnam where SMEs has an important role in the economy?

Transparency is one of the most important factors for venture capitalists when investing in an enterprise, and this can only be proven with a sound accounting system.  Therefore, accessing and applying internationally recognised standards in accounting and auditing holds paramount importance for enterprises that want to access international capital. 

We believe that if accountants and managers maintain a fair relationship based on thorough mutual understanding and realistic expectations, they can work together to make auditing a useful tool to attract investment into Vietnam. 

In other countries, ACCA has been working to ensure that SMEs remain top of the policy agenda with policy-makers and governments. Part of this work involves lobbying decision-makers in places like London and Brussels, where many of the European-wide legislative policies are created and enacted. We have also produced policy papers for policy-makers and key influencers in Africa and Bangladesh were SMEs are also the life blood of the economy.

Our global forum for SMEs works to ensure that there is a global voice for accountants and SMEs and has recently called for Governments and regulators around the world to champion and support SMEs which have been struggling for investment and could be vulnerable even after the economy has recovered.

How could you evaluate the adopting and applying ability in international accounting standards from Vietnamese enterprises in terms of 10 years ago when ACCA entered Vietnam?

With the accession to WTO and especially the rapid growth of the stock market in recent years, Vietnam’s enterprises have seen a rising need for accessing and applying internationally certified standards in accounting and auditing.  Many enterprises seeking investment have applied International Accounting Standards (IAS) in their system, or switched from the Vietnam Accounting Standards (VAS) to IAS when realising the importance of this standard to their attractiveness to investors. In the state-owned enterprises, there have also been considerable efforts to replace VAS with IAS to create a more consistent and convenient framework for evaluation.

Two factors have been instrumental in the increase of IAS application among Vietnamese enterprises.  The first is the MoF in supporting and facilitating the application of IAS among state and private enterprises. In the past few years, the MoF has continually updated and amended regulations to provide a better legal framework for the application of IAS among enterprises, as well as organised conferences to raise awareness and facilitated dialogues on this issue. 

The second is the improvement of human resources in the accounting and auditing industries, as applying IAS requires highly capable accountants and auditors. In the past 10 years since ACCA established our presence in Vietnam, we have seen and contributed to the rise of a force of high quality, internationally recognised accountants who understand the importance of applying international standards in their respective companies.  Many qualified accountants who graduated from ACCA are now holding important positions in finance departments of companies, where they continue to promote applications of IAS in the system.

What are ACCA’s priorities for Vietnam?

In the upcoming period, our priority continues to be training and development of human resources in the accounting/auditing profession.  We will continue to hold many events and training courses, and develop suitable courses for Vietnamese auditors with a view to increasing access to professional standards for accountants and auditors. We want to open career possibilities for everyone in the profession, alleviate the barriers and improve training contents to meet the demands of learners and recruiters. 

Following our newly signed Agreement of Cooperation on Joint Examination Scheme with the MoF, we will roll out the support for members in training, updating professional knowledge, assist members in maintaining high standards on professionalism, ethics and qualification, as well as sponsoring for training of ministry officials as a way to develop a new generation of policy makers well equipped with understanding of international auditing standards and practices.

On a global basis, ACCA’s strategic aim to 2015 is to be recognised by employers as the leading global professional accountancy body in terms of reputation, influence and size, relevant to all sectors of employment.

To achieve this vision on behalf of our members, we will continually monitor what is on the horizon, exploring and championing the trends which are shaping the business environment in which the profession operates. This applies to everything that we do, from our qualifications to relationships, from our infrastructure to technical policy positions. 

To ensure that our organisation is fit for the future, we are implementing a major programme of business transformation. The programme includes a wide range of projects that are designed to enhance our operations, systems and processes, engagement with customers and our service delivery.

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