Accountants divided on regulatory system overhaul plan

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Coming off the heels of the one-year anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse, Ajilon Finance, a specialty finance and accounting recruitment firm, has announced the results of its recent survey of 350 finance professionals which found that accountants are divided on the impact of President Barack Obama's proposal to overhaul the financial regulatory system and increase protections for consumers and individual investors. The survey, which was conducted in conjunction with the Institute of Management Accountants' Inside Talk Webinar Series, revealed that 48 percent of respondents believe that President Obama's plan will have a very positive or somewhat positive effect. This compares to 40 percent of accountants who say the plan will have a barely positive or negative effect.

Accountants who say the financial regulatory overhaul plan will have a barely positive or negative effect believe it will be too difficult to implement and enforce (29 percent), the country will find itself in a similar mess in a few years (11 percent), the plan is "too little, too late" (5 percent) or the plan doesn't go far enough to reduce excessive risk-taking and improve consumer and investor protections (3 percent).

"The Obama administration's final financial regulatory reform plan will have a significant impact on the accounting community, standards, and methods", said Andrew Reina, regional practice director for Ajilon Finance Solutions. "As we gear up for the overhaul, companies and CPA firms will have to be proactive about educating their finance and accounting staff on these changes. Job candidates will also need to display a new array of skills, namely a proficiency in fair value accounting, loan loss provisioning, and International Financial Reporting Standards."

Among the proposed changes included in the reform plan impacting accountants are the following items:

  • Improvements in the application of fair value accounting,
  • Loan loss provisioning,
  • Global accounting standards,
  • Legislation regulating executive compensation,
  • Creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency for overseeing mortgages, credit cards and other kinds of consumer debt.

 Here are some things accounting professionals should do now to ensure they're ready and up to speed as these plans are finalized:

  • Familiarize yourself with the proposed changes: Get to know the changes that are being proposed by visiting the government's Web site. Then, follow news coverage about the legislation as it moves through Congress by reading the papers and industry trade magazines.
  • Get additional training: If you aren't familiar with the latest regulations governing fair value accounting and international financial reporting standards (IFRS), get additional training. Industry trade organizations like the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants offer classes and resources on the latest regulations and standards.
  • Talk to your employer: Most importantly, talk to your employer about the changes. Not only may they have insight to share with you but they will appreciate your initiative and ability to stay on top of the latest news and trends in your industry.

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