2006 – Where were the accountants, the auditors and the financial managers?

As we turn on our TVs and read our papers, hardly a day goes by without more stories of fraud, greed, misappropriation, negligence, deceptive accounting practices, broken internal control systems, theft, and dishonesty at all levels of public organizations and in all sizes of business corporations.

The Accounting Research Centre explored these issues at a previous conference, particularly from a corporate governance perspective. In this conference, we will shift our focus more specifically to accountants, auditors (both internal and external), and financial managers. Some of the questions to consider include the following:

  • Where have the accountants, auditors, and financial managers been?
  • Why have they been unable to protect taxpayers and investors from these activities?
  • Can we still rely on internal control systems and external auditor’s opinions?
  • What can be done to reduce the expectations gap?
  • Do we need more rules and regulations to protect taxpayers and investors? or should we focus on the quality of people and the quality of systems and processes?

Professional accountants, in their positions of trust and confidence, do not appear to be able to protect organizations either by preventing or detecting undesirable behaviours. Recent regulations in many countries reflect both the lack of leadership by the accounting profession and the lack of trust that many stakeholders (including public policy makers, investors and the public) have in the accounting profession.

In its latest report, released December 2005, the Canadian Public Accountancy Board (CPAB), identified “serious deficiencies” in the work of large audit firms. The report blamed senior managers and partners for violating auditor independence rules. Our panel of speakers will discuss the need for fundamental change by all parties involved in accounting, auditing, and financial management. Topics to be addressed include:

  • Recent social changes and the role of accounting and business education in today’s society.
  • The roles, responsibilities, skills and attitudes needed by professional accountants and financial managers.
  • How to make internal controls more efficient and effective as a means of restoring accountability, credibility and the integrity of financial information.
  • The need for a new organizational paradigm where accounting, financial control and auditing are at centre stage

Keynote Speaker:

Strengthening Stewardship and Management of Public Funds: Putting the Right People in the Right Place
Charles-Antoine St-Jean , Comptroller General of Canada, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Speakers:

Improving Corporate Governance by Taking an Enterprise View of Risks
Mark Beasley, Professor and ERM Initiative Director North Carolina State University

Supporting Effective Audits: The role of the Canadian Public Accountability Board
Gordon Thiessen , Chair, Canadian Public Accountability Board

Much talk, not enough action: Textbooks and accounting education in Canada post- Enron
Irene Gordon, Professor, Simon Fraser University

The Role of Information, Capital markets and Regulators And Aberrant Corporate Behaviour
Vijay Jog , President, Corporate Renaissance Group

Proceedings

Table of Contents

Strengthening Stewardship and Management of Public Funds: Putting the Right People in the Right Place
by Charles-Antoine St-Jean

The Role of Information, Capital markets and Regulators and Aberrant Corporate Behaviour
by Vijay Jog

Improving Corporate Governance by Taking an Enterprises View of Risks
by Mark Beasley

Supporting Effective Audits: the Role of the Canadian Public Accountability Board
by Gordon Thiessen

Much Talk, Not Enough Action: Textbooks and Accounting Education in Canada in Post-Enron
by Irene Gordon

Some Factors Contributing to the Quality of Control Systems: Assessments and Recommendations from Within
by Merridee Bujaki and Daniel Zeghal