Editor's note: These are Web-exclusive interview questions from the JofA's February 2009 interview with IFAC President Robert Bunting. To read the print interview, click here.
JofA: You’ve served as CEO of Moss Adams LLP and chairman of the AICPA. What do you see as your most significant accomplishment?
Bunting: In my roles as CEO of my firm and as Chair of the AICPA I was called upon repeatedly to work with bright, driven, opinionated and diverse groups of people to develop and execute on strategies or respond to challenges. I don’t think I was born with this skill so I view it as an important lifetime accomplishment. It boils down to working constantly to help a diverse and strong-willed group set aside the things that divide them and concentrate on what they can do in common for the common good. I’m hoping what I have learned translates well into the international arena where differences in language, culture and stages of national development can complicate the process of finding common causes and executing well together.
JofA: Are China and India the major emerging markets or are there others based upon the growth of the profession around the world?
Bunting: China and India are very important growth markets for the accounting profession, but so are Russia and Brazil, the other members of the so-called BRIC countries. IFAC and the international accountancy networks that are members of the Forum of Firms have a special interest in seeing the accounting and auditing professions in these countries keep pace with the growth of their general economies. As part of our efforts to contribute to this development, IFAC recently sponsored the first-ever BRIC Forum on the challenges and needs of the profession in these countries.
JofA: What is IFAC’s greatest challenge?
Bunting: The greatest challenge for IFAC probably is to deal with all the different constituencies around the world and make sure they have a voice as we try to set standards that work both for the capital markets and also for small and medium practices, small medium enterprises and finding a way to balance inputs and balance decision making around the world.
JofA: Over the past several years, IFAC has undergone significant reform, including the introduction of public oversight. What has been the impact of these changes and what do they mean for the future?
Bunting: Prior to the reforms IFAC was setting standards, and we always set our standards in the public interest. That is our goal. That is our intent and that is the way we try to do things. One of the things we discovered at the time when we entered in the reforms is that it is not only important to set standards in the public interest but it is also critical that the public believe you set those standards in the public interest. Reform set up a public interest oversight board which is overseen by IOSCO and The World Bank and a number of other regulators called the Monitoring Group. By allowing them to insight into our standard setting process and making it completely transparent to public interest groups, we gain credibility with those groups. We gained acceptance from those groups and that went a long ways, for example to getting the European Union to give us a preliminary endorsement of international auditing standards for mandatory adoption in Europe. It also helped us in other countries to get those national regulators to adopt international auditing standards.
JofA: How will IFAC view the significance of the IASB’s IFRS for SMEs?
Bunting: IFAC’s Small & Medium Practices (SMP) Committee, in collaboration with some of our member bodies has played a very active role in field testing the exposure draft titled “IFRS for Private Entities” and helping IASB evaluate IFRS for SMEs. IFAC will continue to give input to the IASB as it assesses the feedback following the conclusions of the comment period which ended on Nov. 30, 2007. The SMP Committee has also issued a white paper on the suitability of the proposed private entities standards for micro entities, and it plans on becoming involved with a proposed “train the trainer” program to assist member bodies in implementing the new standards if they are issued by the IASB.