Reputation of accounting profession top concern in IFAC global survey

The reputation of the accounting profession continues to be a top concern among those in the field – and the profession needs to present itself better to improve public approval, according to a new global survey.

Respondents to the “2011 Fifth Annual Global Leadership Survey” gave the perception of the accountancy profession in their region a rating of 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

The survey, conducted by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), received 123 responses. Participants included 92 member bodies and associates in 71 countries and jurisdictions. Perception ratings in Europe were lowest, at 6.7, and highest in North America, at 8.7. The average was 7.0.

“While this rating is above-average, it is not remarkable – implying that respondents think their profession needs to present itself better to gain higher approval with the public,” the report says.

Participants in the survey rated the reputation and credibility of the profession as their top ongoing concern. The needs of small and medium practitioners and entities (SMPs and SMEs) was the No. 2 concern. The global financial climate was the third-highest concern. Each of those three issues was cited by more than 50% of respondents as one of their top five concerns on a list with 19 choices.

Last year, the top three concerns were protecting the reputation of the profession, transitioning to International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) and addressing the needs of SMPs and SMEs.

In this year’s survey, the reputation and credibility of the profession was a concern from respondents in almost every region. In addition:

  • Respondents in Europe, North America and Australasia/Oceania rated the difficult financial climate as a high concern.

  • Survey participants in Europe, Africa and the Middle East expressed strongly the needs of SMPs and SMEs, and respondents from Latin America and the Caribbean were more concerned about attracting new talent to the profession.

  • North American respondents expressed strong concerns about increased regulation and global regulatory convergence.

Ken Tysiac ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.