By Kyriacos Iordanou*
This year the Institute of Certified Public Accountants celebrates its 55thanniversary. Starting out back in 1961 as a humble club of few but pioneering, at the time, qualified accountants, and passing through various phases of development and maturity, ICPAC grew into a significant stakeholder in the economic and business scene, a multi-discipline organisation serving more than 3.700 members and nearly 3.000 students.
This exponential expansion in the Institute’s roles and interests is evident by the fact that ICPAC has been entrusted legal responsibility and authority under four separate pieces of legislations. Today ICPAC regulates three distinct professions and operates via its management and 24 specialised committees. At the same time, the Institute’s Council’s agenda has multiple and diverse issues that don’t merely relate to the traditional professional role but expand to broader economic matters.
One of the most challenging periods for ICPAC is undoubtedly the one that we currently endure, with the economic crisis and the Troika dominating the scene. Apart from the overall financial and social predicament which has affected everybody (and ICPAC was no exception).
The Cypriot professional accountancy body actively participated in the efforts to successfully meet the obligations under the adjustment programme of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika. In parallel, the Institute’s Council, the management, committees and other members worked hard in order to alleviate adverse repercussions on the economy, to maintain Cyprus as an international business centre and to restore the county’s reputation and credibility.
We are of course very pleased with the successful completion of the adjustment programme, however there is still way to go. We are definitely not out of the woods yet, and the economy still faces a number of serious challenges such as high unemployment, slow economic development, banks’ non-performing loans, the market’s lack of liquidity, coupled with the inevitable social effects.
Something we should have learned from this tough lesson though, is that we ought to adopt a new mind-set and culture, be more professional and less tolerant towards the mediocre, corruption, nepotism and complacency. The necessity for genuine and effective structural reforms in the manner in which the state is both governed and run, is imminent, and it calls for fair but tough and bold decisions without daring to consider any political or personal cost.
Pursuing the above is imperative in order to be in position to benefit from the fruits of the economy’s potential that is before us. Serious investors will most probably bypass Cyprus if they fear that their investments will be at stake as long as uncertainty and loose procedures remain in the picture. There is indeed a lot of business potential; but it is not a “sitting duck” any more.
What ICPAC has achieved in its history so far, in comparison to other local organisations and to international accountancy bodies, is truly impressive. A mere glance at its current activities and services is good enough to get an idea. However, we are still far from ultimate excellence; but we are trying to gradually build it piece by piece given the constraints of our capabilities and resources. ICPAC actually finds itself at a strategically transitional stage, exploring its possibilities for restructuring and developing new skills and competencies. This is of course partly dictated by the increasing legal and professional obligations, the new EU Directives and Regulations, the overall regulatory environment and global developments.
Being an organisation whose activities as well as the work done by its Members affect public trust, ICPAC is also committed to servicing the public interest and safeguarding public value. The accountancy profession carries its share of public responsibility, something that is well understood and addressed by the Institute.
2016 is a landmark year for ICPAC, not only because of the successful completion of the first 55 years of professional service, but it is envisaged to be a turning point in its activities and image. Placing ethics, competence, knowledge and professionalism on top of its list, ICPAC is committed to pursuing further enhancement of its good services to its members, the economy, society and the public in general. History so far is not by itself a guarantee of what will follow, but it is a strong indication that we will keep on progressing on robust foundations.
So, the first 55 years of professional commitment have passed by and ICPAC is still going strong!
(*) Kyriakos Iordanou is general manager of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus