AccountingWEB’s 2010 state of the profession report

If Barack Obama can do it, why can’t we? The annual state of the union address gives the US president an opportunity to look back at the previous previous year and to set his agenda for the year to come. John Stokdyk borrowed the idea to set the scene for AccountingWEB's 2010 policy initiatives.

Some internal changes within Sift Media at the beginning of the year paved the way for my return to AccountingWEB.co.uk as a full-time editor. I worked on the site during 2001-05, but spent the past five years in the world of technology. Many readers will be familiar with my contributions to IT Zone, but my awareness of some of the profession’s more specialist concerns is somewhat rusty.

Over the past month, I’ve been doing background reading and contacting influential voices to bring up my accountking knowledge back up to date. This “state of the profession” report presents my findings in a number of key sectors, each of which is presented in a separate article linked to the summaries below. While I have relied extensively on the expertise of others, including Mark Lloydbottom, the conclusions are my own and point the way towards how AccountingWEB will approach the issues that come to the fore in the new decade.

  • A decade in accountancy
    Mark Lloydbottom sets the scene with a look back at a turbulent decade in accountancy. Enron and 9/11 left their mark on the profession, but fall-out from the 2008 banking collapse will ripple through every business and household in the UK as we struggle with the debts that resulted. The challenge facing practitioners is planning how to minimise the impacts on their clients and firms.
     
  • Taxation
    Apart from tinkering with the wording, tax simplification has been a non-starter for as long as I can remember. What has changed beyond recognition is the merged HMRC. The Carter programme for universal online filing is nearing completion, with one last sting in the tail in the shape of iXBRL. Attitudes at Somerset House and in political circles are hardening towards agressive avoidance, but is the profession listening?
     
  • Reporting and Regulation
    Are the wheels coming off Sir David Tweedie’s grand project to create a single set of global accounting standards? Vested interests in Europe and the US are not making his life easy and an embarassing climbdown to fudge fair values and financial instruments in the amendmened IAS 39 further dented the IASB’s credibility. In the meantime, few UK small businesses accountants are looking with much enthusiasm at the international standard for SMEs. Read this article to find out how accountancy has become like football’s Premier League and why the biggest threat it faces may come from within the profession itself.
     
  • Technology
    While the big global conglomerates snap up smaller rivals, a new breed of fast-moving, Web-based life forms are challenging accountancy’s software dinosaurs. Since there is no way of avoiding software as a service (SaaS), isn’t it about time the profession got over its PC fixation and learned to love the Cloud?

We’re unlikely to get everthing right, so treat the material in this report as more of a starting point for debate and exploration. The most valuable resource I have is the wisdom of our wider membership and as usual, it is to you that I turn for guidance.

Continued...

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