The time had come for the annual intern visit to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO). While some of you out there may be thinking ‘yikes, accounting is boring,’ let me assure you: it is anything but! This isn’t just about accounting, this is about ruling the world, one CA at a time. Don’t believe me? Just ask Tina, the winner of the 2010 “Rule the Tube” competition, who won $1,500 and unlimited judos for her creative video promoting Chartered Accountancy as a profession. (check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XVXooqEc1w)
Or ask this enthusiastic USB key who is celebrating “The clever little sticky book: that can help you rule the world.”
Next stop: world domination.
But enough about the glamour. CAs are real people too. And we were lucky enough to meet several of them.
We arrived at the ICAO building and were greeted by Chris May, the Director of Government Affairs, who we’ve bumped into at various Queen’s Park events. He gave us a tour of the building and pointed out the many architectural changes it has gone through. Our tour ended in the Council Chambers, which was a very cool and potentially intimidating room. This is where the Council meets and where disciplinary hearings are held.
Chris gave us an introduction into some of the issues facing the accountancy profession today. First and foremost, there is a nation-wide initiative to merge the designations of Chartered Accountant (CA), Chartered General Accountant (CGA), and Chartered Management Accountant (CMA) into one: the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). The various provincial bodies representing these professions are all invited to the table and it sounds like some progress has been made. For example, Quebec already merged their accountancy bodies last year.
We briefly met Rod N. Barr, the President and CEO of ICAO. Then we learned more about CAs specifically through presentations from Mona Ghiami, the Director of Career Information, and Brian Leader, the VP of Learning, about the paths that CA wannabes can take to complete their academic training, and their work requirements to get certified. CAs are now able to choose a path of working in public accountancy or getting experience in industry to complete their work requirements. Upon hearing the starting salary of a first year associate CA (a cool $71K), a few interns may have second guessed their chosen career path.
Karelyn Murray, the Associate Director of Regulatory Compliance, gave us an overview of licensing and how the ICAO ensures compliance with the Chartered Accountants Act, 2010. It was news to many of us, including myself, that not all accountants are licensed. You only have to be licensed if you are signing off on financial statements that people will rely on.
Finally, Paul Farley, the Senior Council of the Professional Conduct Committee, gave us a fascinating look into disciplinary issues in the ICAO. I don’t know why, but everyone loves a scandal, and the group was simultaneously intrigued and shocked by some of the cases he has seen. The main goal of a professional disciplinary body is to maintain the integrity of the profession and ensure that CAs still enjoy the public’s trust. Therefore it is very important to address disciplinary issues firmly. They have strong powers to investigate and to punish such offences through fines, suspension or revocation of the designation, restrictions on practicing, and publishing prosecutions. In many ways, a hearing is similar to a criminal proceeding, but there is one very notable difference: A defendant does not have the right to remain silent. Otherwise they may be charged with failure to cooperate, which can be even worse than the charge they already faced. A word to the wise: if you’re thinking of using a CA, Google them.
After the formal presentations we went down to the lunchroom for a great meal and were able to get to know some of the presenters better. It was very cool to see people from all sorts of different backgrounds who were now working at the ICAO.
Interns with the Chartered Accountants of Ontario.
Thanks to the ICAO for the great morning, the sweet swag, and of course, for their support of OLIP.