Tougher Standards to Make Better Accountants

The International Accounting Education Standards Board late last month , the International Education Standard for Assessment of Professional Competence. The IAESB develops education standards and guidance for use by member organizations of IFAC, the global organization for the accountancy profession. (The AICPA is an IFAC member.)

IES-6 identifies the criteria to be used to assess an accounting candidate's professional capabilities and competence before admitting him or her to the profession. While the considers these as well, it also "addresses elements that are essential to assessing professional competence over the career of a professional accountant," the IAESB said in a statement. "The IAESB believes that the features of these proposed revisions, which demonstrate our desire to move to a more principles-based approach in standard setting, will be more useful to IFAC member bodies and other professional accountancy organizations, educational institutions, regulators, and other interested parties than the current approach," said IAESB chair Mark Allison.

laid out in the proposed standard:

* While the current IES-6 is intended to prescribe the requirements for the final assessment of a professional accountant before qualification, the proposed IES-6 looks at these requirements for the accountant's overall career. "The IAESB recognizes that the development and maintenance of competence must take place throughout the careers of professional accountants," the draft states.

* The current standard focuses on a final exam as a way of evaluating an accounting candidate's competence; the proposed IES-6 allows for several assessment methods. Among the examples provided: a series of written exams that focus on different areas of competence, or a combination of written exams and an assessment of workplace performance. The Draft goes on to say that the form of assessment may depend on factors specific to each member body, such as its remoteness, the availability of educational and other resources, and the number of candidates being assessed and their backgrounds.

* While the current standard indicates that an assessment should be valid and reliable, the proposed standard says that the measures used to assess professional competence also should be equitable, transparent and sufficient.