One thing that every small, medium and large size company need — is a good Chartered Accountant. While writing this, I remind myself of an interesting tweet: “Where there is will, there is a chartered accountant”.
But I think we can safely substitute the word ‘will’ with ‘company’. It doesn’t matter where you’re working. Be it pharma, banking, investment and for that matter even entertainment industry, everyone needs an Accountant.
And in order to serve this purpose in Pakistan, where else to look for other than Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan, also famously known for its acronym, ICAP.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan which was originally established under The Chartered Accountants Ordinance, 1961 as a self regulatory body, is also an examining body for the candidates aspiring to become Chartered Accountants. It regulates the accounting and auditing profession in Pakistan, which includes Standard setting, Quality Control and Investigation.
ICAP also contributes in promoting corporate governance, formulating economic policies of Federal and Provincial Governments including federal budget making with specific focus on taxation.
I know what you did THIS Summer
Recently, after ICAP successfully land an agreement with Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, which many believes will help in improving Pakistan’s image in international market and with Sindh govt which will provide paid training programme to those who cannot afford – it was evident that now ICAP is on right track for its own members and society.
But all is not gold. ICAP has also been criticized on social networks sometimes for its policies and its attitude towards them.
So we decided to grab ICAP New President, Rashid Rahman Mir, member of three professional bodies ICAP, ICMAP and PIPFA – to congratulate him and to confront him on all these issues.
Mr. Mir is a Founder Partner of Rahman Sarfaraz Rahim Iqbal Rafiq, Chartered Accountants (RSRIR). He was member council since 2005, in his first term 2005- 2009, he served as Vice President for the year 2008- 2009. And he got re-elected for the second term 2009-2013 and became the President of ICAP for the year 2011-2012.
At least, there was a Will
Pakistan, which has been facing ‘image issues’ from entertainment, cricket, politics and finance, might find this ICAP-CICA deal as a positive sign for our human resource image internationally. And of course, we congratulate Mr Mir on this successful endeavor with Canadian Chartered Accountants’ body.
I asked him about this agreement and what goes behind this deal and the efforts and time they put behind it?
“The salient features of the MOU are (a) the ICAP members are now required to appear in only one exam of CICA, that is Uniform Evaluation and (b) their practical training in Pakistan and their post qualification experience is acceptable to CICA subject to individual assessment”, said Mir.
“In other words, the process of CICA membership for ICAP members which earlier required around one and half year period has been reduced to six months. The Institute initiated the discussion of mutual recognition in March, 2010 and as per the scheduled plan of detailed evaluation it concluded in March 2012″.
Good for Pakistani accountants and I’m sure there are many ICAP members who will avail this option but do you think there will be Canadian accountants who will be coming to Pakistan? Given the security and perception problem with our country?, I asked him.
“See, Looking at the potential of emerging markets, like Pakistan, the flow of capital is bound to divert from conventional advanced economies”, said Mir.
“But as soon as situation of law and order starts to improve in Pakistan, it is likely that there will be a number of joint ventures where CICA members may find an opportunity. However, the numbers would not be much significant in foreseeable future”, he added.
Pakistan is not what you see on Fox News
The bias attitude of few international media outlets is evident in our case and its getting hard for most of our professionals and businesses to convince foreigners and companies otherwise. So I asked Mr Mir how did he convince a Canadian body for such an agreement when foreign investors and even cricket teams are reluctant to visit Pakistan?
“As I mentioned earlier the international employer market is fully aware of the expertise and value of the ICAP members. ICAP’s education is fully compliant with the requirements of the International Education Standards issued by ‘International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) therefore, the formalization of the recognition was not that difficult”, said Mir.
“In addition to that there is another dimension of the situation — Pakistan is one of very few countries where international pronouncements on accounting and auditing are applied as national standards. With the recent drive of convergence to international standards by countries like Canada, USA, UK and many other advanced countries, the expertise in international standards has become more valuable. May be this aspect has also played its role”.
I also know what you did LAST Summer
With so many comments and emails, I could not resist but to ask if on one hand ICAP has been very open and friendly with other international bodies but making it hard for those already working in Pakistan.
“It is believed that ICAP, in last few years, corner ACCA, a British Accountancy qualification, through its policies and its becoming hard for their students and affiliates to get a job, especially in audit firm? How would you respond to these perceptions?”, I asked Mir.
“The perception doesn’t seems to be correct because major employers of ACCA are CA practicing firms and members of ICAP serving in industry who hire students or qualified persons on the basis of their business model and we respect their independent decisions. You would however agree that due to the state of economy we have the employment opportunities are shrinking for almost everyone”, responded ICAP President.
Suicides among CA Students
There were some sad incidents within accountancy circles when one CA student from Rawalpindi reportedly killed his parents and another student of ICAP working in BRS department in EnY in Karachi committed suicide.
So I asked ICAP President, Mr Mir, if there specific problems with the ICAP examination systems and policies since many commentators put the blame on ICAP’s policies and even go to the length to blame audit firms that they treat trainee students merely as animals of work without any regard to their professional studies and career?
“We should be aware of the fact that the Institute has 50 years history and at present around 30,000 students are appearing in examinations of ICAP”. said Mir.
“CA Qualification is one of the most prestigious professionals. And when we talk about these sad events it is not appropriate to make judgement for the entire community on the basis of an inappropriate act of an individual. ICAP examinations have always been challenging and they will remain so, as ICAP members are entrusted with great responsibility by the society”, added Mir.
“They are supposed to serve the public interest where any lack of competence can affect seriously to large number of stakeholders and our community at large. We have increased the student counselling for providing more guidance to the students and are devising a mechanism which would enable good students to pass the examinations and for those who can be good at other disciplines would be able to take exit with a respectable mid-tier certification”, Mr Mir discloses.
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