How far has the accountancy profession retrenched in 35 years?

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I was interviewed by AccountingWEB about country-by-country reporting last week. As they noted:

Demanding more transparency from multinational organisations raises political hackles within a profession that shies away from any hint of social campaigning. But Murphy argues that standards-setters and those who oppose reforming proposals are turning their backs on the wider relevance of financial reporting.

“What is extraordinary about this whole process, whether extractive or country by country reporting as a whole, are the straightforward objections by the profession that information will be used by anybody other than those who buy and sell shares,” he said.

“When it started in the 1970s, the Accounting Standards Committee identified 15 different user groups for corporate reports, and eight stakeholder groups, including civil society and government. Who owns this company and how much tax does it pay were reaonable questions to ask of accounts. Here in 2010, we’re still asking those questions on behalf of government and civil society. How far has accountancy retrenched in its broad view of society? The IASB has narrowed the reporting horizon down to the narrow view of someone who is buying or selling shares. Stewardship has been almost entirely lost within international standards.”

And that really worries me.

The big question is a simple one: does the International Accounting Standards Board have any perception of society beyond markets?

Of course one could ask the same of the whole hierarchy that has not captured control of the UK government.

And if, as I suspect, the answer is ‘no’ then we should all be profoundly worried.

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