CEOs of accounting institutes from around the world met at the World Congress of Accountants in Malaysia, where they discussed the need for companies to report on non-financial results in areas such as social and environmental activities.

The World Congress closed Thursday with a final plenary session entitled “Accountants in the Next Decade – Embracing Change and Seizing Opportunities,” which examined how the recent global economic crisis has changed the environment for the accountancy profession, and the impact of increased globalization on the profession.

Panelists discussed how the audit function should evolve to meet new needs, and how the skills and competencies of accountants might change in the future. Participants also addressed whether the accountancy profession would still be an attractive option for young people in the future.

“The clear consensus among the panel was that increased globalization and the recent financial crisis have placed the profession squarely in the spotlight,” said IFAC CEO Ian Ball. “Professional accountants play a key role in reporting on financial results and providing assurance on those reports, which is particularly important in this challenging time.”

Ball chaired the final plenary session panel, which also included American Institute of CPAs president and CEO Barry Melancon, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants chief executive Helen Brand, Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales CEO Michael Izza, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants CEO Charles Tilley, and
CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley.

“Going forward, the profession is certain to continue to evolve,” said Ball. “For example, integrated reporting—which encompasses an organization’s economic, social, and environmental results—will become the norm, and the profession will play a key role in providing assurance on non-financial results, as well as embedding these results into strategy and performance management. As we lead this transformation, we will need to enhance our collective skills and competencies. We expect these changes will increase the profile of the profession and help us continue to attract the best and brightest.”

A record-breaking number of delegates attended—over 6,000 from 134 countries—including professional accountants, international regulators, standard-setters, government officials, and corporate leaders. The World Congress featured 183 speakers from over 40 countries and from organizations including the World Bank, Transparency International, the Financial Stability Board, the European Commission, the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators, and the International Accounting Standards Board, among others.