Author: Linda Biek, CPA, NASBA Director of Governmental and International Relationships
Posted: June 2011

While NASBA is well known in the U.S. CPA community, its international presence hasn’t always been as robust. We are working diligently as an organization to change that.

For decades, our executive team and board members have visited their counterparts around the globe. And, NASBA teams have researched and provided behind-the-scenes support on international issues. Those issues have grown in size, complexity and importance in recent years, which required NASBA to increase its international presence. I was brought in to help lead this effort.

The issues facing the accounting profession affect the well being of our industry. Chief among those issues are the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which have been adopted by more than 100 countries throughout the world, but are still being reviewed by the SEC. No one knows if the SEC will accept the IFRS as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for U.S. companies, so the feedback we receive from our international partners and bring back to our state boards, which in turn provide it to legislators, is vital during this period of uncertainty.

In addition, international audit and ethics standards were and are still being debated and reviewed. These require NASBA’s attention and input, both at home and abroad. When we get involved in issues, we advocate for NASBA and then bring back information to our state boards of accountancy. That allows the boards an opportunity to understand the important issues in other countries, and how to operate more efficiently in the international arena.

We also educate our international partners about how accounting works in the U.S., and how NASBA plays an integral role in helping that happen. The process here is very different than in most countries, when it comes to accounting regulations, credentials and credentialing. We explain how the U.S. accounting profession operates from a licensing and continuing education standpoint, and because NASBA is the organization facilitating these conversations, we have a prominent voice on the international stage.

In addition to helping us educate and become a liaison with our international partners, NASBA’s international presence also has been able to smooth the way for our next major initiative: administering the CPA exam internationally. We’ll begin accepting applications beginning in May, and will offer the first test in August.

The international exam will further educate those outside the United States as to our role in the licensing process. The NASBA name is going to be recognized even more because this takes a major part of what we do as an organization globally. We expect the international exam to quickly and efficiently expand our reach and our reputation, helping us speak even more in the international arena. And being able to speak, and be heard, both inside the United States and outside its borders is key for NASBA as it helps integrate the accounting profession here into an economy that’s becoming more global daily.

Important things are happening every day that affect our boards and our CPAs. If we’re not out there talking about the needs of the CPAs and the needs of the public in the United States, then decisions are made and things are implemented elsewhere that can adversely affect the profession here. It is important for NASBA to have an international voice.

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