Unfortunately, when Accountancy profession need such wisdom and patience the most, there wasn’t any. Not even a hint of it.
According to reputed and highly placed industry professionals, who talked with EconomyAge on condition on anonymity and who are also close with ICAP council, the controversial notice was not intended for ACCA or CIMA but rather it was intended for ICAEW.
Majority of uninformed ACCA students turned a simple notice into an #AccountancyGate Scandal. Our team contacted with all stakeholders officially but due to the sensitivity of issue, none of them were willing to comment. But highly placed professionals close to these officials told us the ‘Real Story’. But before I continue to the real story behind the scenes let me tell you how all this started?
Scene-1# ICAP Issued Notice to Practicing members
On 4th of July, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan issued a notice to all practicing audit firms registered with it. They were simply reminded to comply with Section 22 of a relevant ordinance which states that firms cannot hire trainees of foreign qualifications on contract basis.
Scene-2# Someone Leaked the Notice on Social Media
Someone inside the firms, may be ICAP or ACCA trainees, who apparently misinterpreted this letter initially, and who found no other way for clear answers, put a copy of this notice on social media after which it was copied and shared over and over again.
On the night of 6th of July and for whole of 7th of July – this letter was discussed in such great numbers that it created top three trending topics on Twitter and numerous students start sending letters to ACCA offices.
The results were a disaster. ACCA students started sending tweets to politicians and other govt figures on Twitter – asking them to take notice, without helping to understand that Govt of Pakistan delegated the authority of law making to ICAP.
Then there was comments and recommendations that ACCA and ICAEW should file a law suit against ICAP and ban their members from working outside Pakistan. The same people who were initially cursing ICAP that they are ruining Pakistani students by banning ACCA students from training firms started saying that ICAP members should be banned similarly in other countries.
By the end of Sunday, there was an Event created on facebook asking ACCA students to protest on 12th of July in front of ICAP office in Islamabad. This event has already attracted over 200 people who expressed their willingness to gather.
Scene-3# Officials from ICAP, ACCA, CIMA and ICAEW decided not to Comment
When contacted ICAP, ACCA, CIMA and ICAEW officials, decided not to comment immediately which caused panic to prevail further.
Even on promise of commenting and issuing their official response till Monday – none of them issued any official version except CIMA Pakistan.
ICAP company secretary who’s sign was on this notice was on vacation, our team was told when contacted. Another official confirmed us that the letter is legitimate and its not fake but when we asked them the intention of this letter and who are these firms – he asked us to leave an email which he promised to respond but even till the filing of this article, there was no response from him.
We kept on calling ACCA officials but none of them were willing to respond to any questions or queries related to this ICAP notice. We also tried to contact ACCA newly elected council members but they also refused to comment much adding that its not possible for them to comment at the moment.
“The sensitivity of matter was so serious that ACCA UK office sent an email on Saturday, despite that ACCA offices are closed on weekends, to all ACCA council members and officials not to comment anything on this matter with media”, reliable sources close to ACCA office told us on condition of anonymity.
ICAEW official did not respond to our email and their local representative who were initially troubled on this notice also decided not to respond to any queries.
Although what we must appreciate is CIMA Pakistan’s role in this that, as promised earlier, responded to our query. It’s worth mentioning here that out of CIMA Pakistan’s 25 approved employers, 40% of them are audit firms.
“Since the letter hasn’t been issued to CIMA directly we are not in a position to comment directly on it”, told us Javaria Hassan, Country Representative of CIMA in Pakistan.
“It should also be noted that CIMA qualification is not a purely financial qualification and we do not accept audit experience for CIMA membership completely. CIMA Qualified professionals work in industry and not in the field of audit due to nature of qualification itself”, she added clearing any doubts their students might have.
What Inside Discussions Revealed
On Monday Morning, a report appeared on PakistanACCA, a popular private accountancy blog, which quoted principle of a renowned Accountancy tuition provider Mr. Adnan Rashid who believed that the ‘foreign qualification’ aimed in this letter wasn’t ACCA but it was ICAEW. His claim was later confirmed to EconomyAge by many senior industry professionals, including a senior partner of a renowned firm that wished not to be named for this article.
“The real problem begins when students start appearing in audit firms and start asking them to sign them for an ICAEW contract. Initially they were allowed but when a significant number of inputs were reported – ICAP council decided to issue a reminding notice to practicing firms before this can create a problem after 2 to 3 years”, the senior partner who’s also close to both ICAP and ACCA commented.
EconomyAge also asked him as why ICAP notice did not point their name and used the word ‘foreign accountancy qualifications’ if the real intention was ICAEW and also if ICAP has the right and authority to do it?
“See neither it is possible nor it would be an intelligent decision to point out any qualification. And yes, ICAP has all the rights and authority to enforce this decision. Many students failed to appreciate that ICAP is a regulating body of Accountancy qualification in Pakistan and their decisions cannot be challenged”, he said.
ACCA won’t Comment on this Notice
We also asked him if ACCA is going to seek clarification or comment after thousands of students are demanding them to act.
“I don’t think ACCA office would comment on this notice. In fact – I think the intelligent response for them is to stay low on this. For one thing, this was not a public notice and was communicated to practicing firms not to ACCA so there’s no point for them to respond. It would rather be foolish. And second its not ACCA’s policy to intervene with local regulating body of accountancy profession in countries where they are operating”, he said.
This letter, as many industry professionals are saying, was not intended for ACCA or CIMA. These industry professionals also believes that none of the professional body will issue any public stance on this as who was the real target of this notice.
Neither its possible for ICAP to publicly claim that it was ICAEW nor it is possible for ACCA to comment anything at all. Students related to profession should get over it and for the sake of their organizations’ reputation, stop putting allegation on each others’ bodies.
- ICAP Decided to take a Stand on its Notice: Sources
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- Final Nail in Coffin: ICAP Refrain all Audit Firms in Pakistan to Employ Students of Foreign Accountancy Qualifications
- Breaking: Competition Commission Seek Clarification from ICAP, ACCA and ICAEW
- Lahore High Court Gives Stay Order to ICAP