Kathryn A. Byrne, CPA, CGMA

Partner and manufacturing distribution practice leader at WeiserMazars in New York City

Kathryn A. Byrne, CPA, CGMA
On Jan. 1, Byrne started a three-year term as the chair of the International Federation of Accountants Compliance Advisory Panel. (Photo by Adam Lerner/AP Images)

‘The world is getting smaller and most clients are global’

Building an international auditing career: Throughout my career, I’ve been involved in international business. I went to Australia; I was exposed to accounting over there, and I came back and I was very involved in international accounting alliances, including Praxity and Mazars.

Dealing with international clients: We have to be global citizens of the world. We have to understand different cultures and different parts of the world, and I think that, if you talk about a CPA, that is a required skill if you’re going to work with international clients. There are certain unique issues that you encounter when dealing with an international client.

Standards versus rules: When you’re dealing with multiple jurisdictions, you need to have people on the ground who understand the jurisdictional issues and requirements. That can help when you’re issuing a statement here in the U.S. or anywhere in the world. At the top level, every accountant needs to understand IFRS and U.S. GAAP.

Meeting regulations: When we’re auditing a subsidiary here in the U.S. that has a foreign parent, they may be required to have U.S. statements here for bank purposes, U.S. GAAP statements, and then international reporting requirements to the foreign parent. Banks have been very good at accepting IFRS statements so that we only need to issue one statement. But there are regulatory requirements in certain industries that may not allow IFRS statements to be used locally. And so there you’re actually issuing a statement under two different GAAPs.

Heading the IFAC Compliance Advisory Panel: I have been in significant international positions, which have helped me understand what offices do at an international level. I bring that perspective to the Compliance Advisory Panel: how firms operate internationally; what firms do as it relates to international clients and how they are serviced; and how we are able to work within the standards for the issuing of financial statements. IFAC members and associates have to be compliant with these standards. They need to make sure they have good quality-assurance programs. There are standards for education, audit and assurance, ethics, and public sector, as well as international financial reporting standards. I have spent most of my professional career focused on international business and clients, which is why these standards are natural to me.

—As told to Sabine Vollmer (svollmer@aicpa.org), a JofA senior editor.

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