Close to 6,000 delegates attended the World Congress of Accountants in Sydney, Australia, November 5-8. The largest delegation came from Australia, 2,725, but the second largest delegation came from Nigeria, 749, despite an 18-hour trip from Lagos to Sydney. At the WCOA the mutual recognition agreement renewal with the Chartered Accountants Australia/New Zealand, as developed by the NASBA/AICPA International Qualifications Appraisal Board, was signed.

Among the U.S. attendees was David A. Vaudt, chairman of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board and a NASBA past chair. Asked to comment on suggestions for State Board members, Mr. Vaudt said: “The 2018 World Congress of Accountants was very informative and provided several sessions on the future trends in financial reporting. One conference session that I found particularly intriguing was entitled ‘Converging Reporting Frameworks.’ This session covered the work of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). The IIRC’s mission is ‘to establish integrated reporting and thinking within mainstream business practice as a norm in the public and private sectors.’ The panel discussed the IIRC’s work from different standard-setting perspectives. The goal of the IIRC is that someday more information will be able to be reported under just one comprehensive reporting framework.

“NASBA would be well-served by monitoring the work of the IIRC. Converging more financial and non-financial information under one comprehensive reporting framework would certainly impact the work of accountants and auditors.”

Many of the participants praised the discussion of artificial intelligence that was presented by keynote speaker Dr. Ayesha Khanna. She told the delegates that AI will revolutionize the accounting profession – as it will eliminate 94 percent of the traditional jobs now performed by accountants. However, she believes AI will provide new avenues for growth in the profession. “The purpose of AI is to amplify human potential,” she stated. “If we use AI, we can start moving toward our own self-fulfillment.” Administration, overtime and routine work will be left to AI, but judgment work will be done by human accountants. “Judgment work is knowing your organization’s strategy, understanding your client’s culture, having an approach in mind for your clients that is good for their long-term financial health. AI cannot do that.”

Dr. Khanna maintains new jobs will be opening up for accountants: “You’ll see opportunity everywhere. There is no better time to be in the workforce than now.”

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