Association to help improve country's rules for accounting
Updated: 2012-03-28 08:10
By Cai Xiao (China Daily)
Although a number of Chinese companies listed abroad were hit by short-selling last year, China's businesses have a good global reputation and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants will work with the nation to bring its accounting standards up to the global level, said ACCA CEO Helen Brand.
One of the most high-profile cases of short-selling of a Chinese company took place last year with Sino-Forest Co.
The Canada-listed company was accused of financial irregularities by US research company Muddy Waters LLC.
The furor - which was inflamed after Muddy Waters' founder Carson Block accused the Chinese company of being a Ponzi scheme - saw Sino-Forest's share price plummet and brought the whole issue of short-selling of Chinese stocks to prominence.
"It was only one case and China has a very good reputation. Constant communication is important for a nation to build and protect its reputation," said Brand, CEO of the global body for professional accountants.
Brand said that ACCA and its Chinese counterpart, the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants, are making efforts to bring China's accounting system in line with international standards and work to set up a global accounting system.
According to Brand, as a global accounting body, ACCA supports the move to a global accounting system.
A key part of this process is the convergence of different accounting systems of the United States, Europe and China.
The adoption by countries of a single set of standards has been strongly encouraged by the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors from the 20 major economies.
But the decision to be made by the main US regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, on whether to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards for US domestic filing companies, is one that will prove crucial to this process.
IFRS are principle-based standards permitted or required by more than 100 countries and regions, while the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles remain the standard in the United States.
"The difference in accounting rules between the two nations (China and the US) is a fundamental reason for the problem," said Chen Yugui, vice-president and secretary-general of the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
"If Chinese accountants can sign their names on the auditing report, which means they can be responsible for the auditing work of Chinese enterprises listed in the US, the auditing processes and standards can be simplified and the regulations will be stricter."
Chen said that to achieve this objective, China and the US should work together to promote the convergence of their accounting systems, so that Chinese accountants will eventually be accepted in the US market and vice versa.
ACCA has more than 22,000 members and 41,000 students in China and cooperates with Chinese companies, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, China Mobile Ltd and China Life Insurance (Group) Co.
Brand added that, as cross-border business can be more risky than working domestically, more importance should be attached to risk management.
"Risk management is an important skill for an accountant, assessing the risk and making good decisions. ACCA is pleased to provide this kind of skill as well as financial skills," Brand added.
ACCA recently surveyed 2,000 of its members and found that accountants at the business have a vital role to play in successful risk management. Accountants have an excellent grasp of risks faced by their organizations and the steps needed to manage those risks.
"There is a big problem to be addressed. Businesses need to make sure they use the risk awareness and risk management skills of their qualified accountants, and not miss an opportunity to effectively integrate risk management," she said.