Andrew Conway

Trust must be at core of profession, vows IPA

The Institute of Public Accountants has highlighted at its annual national congress of the important role accountants play in revitalising community trust in professions.

Speaking to hundreds of delegates, IPA chief executive Andrew Conway said public expectations continue to rise in a time when overall trust in institutions is declining.

He said that, even though a lack of trust only exacerbates people’s expectations, the fundamental need of people seeking trustworthy and competent professionals must still be met.

Further, Mr Conway noted that, taking into consideration such factors as the findings from the Hayne royal commission interim report and a growing distrust in financial institutions and financial advice, the accounting profession as a whole must step up.

“There have been no systemic issues involving accountants and public accountants still hold the honour of being trusted advisers to their clients,” Mr Conway said.

“However, as a profession we must do everything in our power to not only maintain that level of trust but also respect the community need for the trust they invest in us.

“As reflected in the interim findings of the banking royal commission, trust is in question and the brand of financial advice has been tarnished.  This means that all professional accounting bodies must stand together and rebuild trust for the sake of not just the profession but also the broader public interest.”

In addition, Mr Conway shared with delegates the IPA’s Big Vision recommendations, as mentioned in its Small Business White Paper released earlier this year.

“Therefore, we are saying to government that more must be done to drive small business productivity, growth and prosperity; particularly if we are to see economic growth and protect our standard of living that we currently enjoy,” Mr Conway said.

“Our primary message to policy makers is; think big, get out of the way of entrepreneurs, and watch small business truly drive productivity.

“As public accountants, you play a major influential factor in assisting your small business clients achieve success.”

The IPA’s Big Vision recommendations, according to the white paper, are:

  1. Broaden the base and lift the rate of GST (subject to the appropriate equity measures).
  2. Cut direct taxes.
  3. Undertake a zero-base design of a thoroughly modern taxation system.
  4. Reform and simplify the personal income tax scale.
  5. Standardise a company tax rate at 25 per cent.
  6. States and territories to be held accountable to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Tax Reform to eliminate payroll tax and stamp duties. These revenues could be channelled into a state infrastructure fund to grow the economy.
  7. Commit an incoming federal government to hold a small business summit within the first six months of assuming office.
  8. The Prime Minister should form and chair a small business advisory council to provide direct policy input and options to the government to inform the COAG agenda with a core focus on productivity.
  9. The federal Small Business Minister should remain a permanent position in cabinet, preferably with its own agency.
  10. The federal government should facilitate small businesses joining global value chains to remain competitive and access global markets.

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