Proposed guidelines for accountants who send their work offshore were released earlier this year but not all industry players are happy.
The Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board (APESB) – the body that sets standards for the accounting industry – has issued a new guidance note with 29 issues accountants should consider when outsourcing. These cover the responsibilities and obligations of firms that outsource – ranging from the pricing structure to the way information is kept secure, to dispute resolution mechanisms.
APESB chairwoman Kate Spargo says the proposed guidance note will help members involved in outsourcing by giving them a “point of reference” as well as ways to monitor and manage risks associated with outsourced services.
But the board’s members – that include the big industry bodies CPA Australia, the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Public Accountants – think the guidelines are too prescriptive and have unclear definitions.
The bodies have made a joint submission on the draft guidelines, noting that the language used is “overly prescriptive in tone, such that it reads more like a standard than like guidance”.
Individual accounting firms have also been critical, with a submission from Grant Thornton pointing out how the guidance note has mandatory requirements that are “excessive and do not necessarily reflect the significance of the outsourced service”.
CPA Australia’s policy adviser on professional standards and governance, Eva Tsahuridu, says that while the organisation supports having a guide for members, it’s about best practice, not a mandatory code.