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World Congress of Accountants: What to look out for over the next four days

5th Nov 2018
Managing Director
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This week the accounting world converges on Sydney for the World Congress of Accountants. The WCOA is billed as the ‘Olympics for accountants’, and the event is expected to attract 6,000 delegates from over 100 countries.

So, what does this diverse, global audience want to get out of it? Alan Nelson, MD of Nelson Croom and founder of is in Australia and will be covering the Congress for AccountingWEB, and has been finding out what to expect.


Firstly, they want to be challenged by the debate on the key issues. We’ll be looking out for four areas, in particular.

  • Is technology really such an existential threat to the profession and how quickly will change come?
  • How serious is the crisis of confidence in audit? Are we about to see regulation to restrict the market share of the Big Four? How do we rebuild trust in the profession?
  • Can we move more quickly towards a more holistic form of reporting? Is Integrated Reporting going to be the solution?
  • How will we tackle the international tax avoidance of the largest tech companies? How do we avoid a race to the bottom in national tax rates?

The Congress’s key themes of trust, ethics, diversity, sustainability and new technologies, look like they will these concerns.

Secondly, they want to build their networks. They want to reach out further afield, to find people who share their problems, and they want to expand their horizons.

And thirdly, they want to have a good time. The organisers have put on an attractive set of evening activities, which I guess is not so hard in Sydney, one of those cities where your spirits rise as you get off the plane.

So how will this World Congress differ to those that have gone before it? The answer lies in the programme, which is altogether more outward looking, and business focused than previous Congresses. Yes, it is still an event where most of the delegates will be finance professionals, but this time it is really aiming to be relevant to business leaders around the world and to grapple with some of their key issues too.

We’ll be posting our observations throughout the week, so watch this space.

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