That does not mean that accountants are not honest people, it is just that there exists mechanisms within the profession such as inventory valuation methods and depreciation methods which would have different effects on your financial statements. However that is not a problem in itself.
The standards are not what is hampering our profession. My main issue especially in West Africa is that the notion of working for the greater good of the public has been a non existent factor in our profession. This profession is not just accounting but public accounting. In the s and early s, the accounting profession in the United States was not regulated and the greater good of the public was shelved in the back burner.
The tragedy in their stories is not the fact that these companies are no longer in business but the people whose retirement and life savings depended on these companies were left to fend for themselves. How could this have happened if there was a more than competent accounting firm periodically auditing and monitoring their financial health you may ask? Oh yeah that is right, it does not exist anymore well at least as we knew it prior to Arthur Andersen through its leader Leonard Spacek in the late s through the s started out actually as an advocate for a transaparent and ethical accounting practice.
This term describes ones tendency to take risks knowing the consequences of such risk will not be borne by one. The bankers and loan officers who provided loans to people they knew would not be able to repay their debt, only cared about making a sales commission but knew that the bank alone bore the risk of loss. It is a country of roughly 13 people. All of these firms including the one I am employed at are regulated through this Board.
There are rules and regulations that govern the profession — or are there? Now I ask you — What good does it do to have standards, rules and regulations if there is no one policing these standards. Uhhh if you know it, then you could maybe enlighten me on that subject. The only thing I have noticed since being in this country is that they make it really tough for anyone to join this so so so adding one more SO just to drive my point home exclusive club of Expert Comptables Certified Public Accountants.
There are people with grey hair well that is not saying much as I have grey hair and I am in my mid 20s but there are accountants in their 30s and 40s and even 50s trying to become Experts Comptables but still cannot be recognized by this body as there is no set standards on how to become one. The procedure consist of something like this: Oh you have interned for the past five years? I am exaggerating a bit but it is a never ending process. It is well documented that many people with good intentions gave up their dreams of becoming CPAs due to their barriers to entry.
The point is to hold a body accountable for policing a profession that is supposed to be here for the public and not for the financial gain of only those who are lucky enough to be part of it.
Certified Public Accountants count for 0. Out of all of the companies in Senegal, how many do you think receive an adverse opinion on their financial statements? It is a culture where the accountant has no incentive to provide a qualified opinion even if there is a flagrant issue where a disclaimer opinion would have been more appropriate. An unfavorable opinion results in your removal as the auditor by the client and you lose that business.
The ferocity with which the competition for scarce business is, has made it such an environment where accounting firms are afraid to report cases of mismanagement of funds. The fear of losing business has won the industry to the point that intellectual integrity cannot be guaranteed in the work.
The only way this could be restored is if government action is taken to setup a body similar to the Public Corporation Accounting Oversight Board PCAOB which calls for independent review of firms work periodically to ensure that they are doing a service to the public rather than just being a part of the perpetual cycle. It is exactly like living in a glass house and closing the blinds.
The accounting profession in Senegal at least is selling an illusion, form over substance and its strict oversight and regulation is a vital undertaking if this country expects to shed the ING in developing and develop. Drastic measures could be taken to regulate this profession but it will only happen if something extraordinary happens majority of people lose their pensions, massive job losses etc…. The Senegalese economy to a certain extent depends on foreign aid and foreign loans to operate.
The service industry is the engine and glue for the economy. The bodies providing aid or loans to the country need to have assurance that their funds are being spent in the way intended in the agreements. This need for assurance is provided through periodic audits.