ACCA’s global forums bring together experts from around the world to help ACCA understand key issues, trends and developments across the profession.
In all, there are 13 forums:
- Accountancy Futures Academy
- Accountants for business (see AB May)
- Audit and assurance (see AB April)
- Business law (see below)
- Corporate reporting (see AB July/Aug)
- Education (see AB April)
- Ethics (see AB June)
- Governance, risk and performance
- Public sector
- SMEs (see AB July/Aug)
- Taxation (see below)
- Technology (see AB May).
At the forums, experts from business, practice, the public sector and the academic world come together to debate professional hot topics, which ACCA feeds into its research and professional insights work.
ACCA is frequently called on to present its views on the profession, or to comment on wider business or society generally. The fact that ACCA has engaged with its members on these topics puts it in a strong position to respond. This in turn helps ACCA to lead the profession, influence public policy and regulation, and shape business practices on key issues.
Global Forum for Taxation
As governments plan the economic path out of the coronavirus pandemic, tax policy is front of mind. Jason Piper, ACCA’s policy lead for tax and business law, says that the tax forum discussions have been focused by the crisis.
‘How governments might fund increased spending has very quickly overtaken our original focus on the OECD’s tax base erosion and profit shifting project,’ he says. ‘Tax debates always have two aspects: the political discussion about what policymakers want to achieve, and the technical considerations of how they then do that.’
These debates are more important and more urgent than usual, says Piper, and fit into a pattern of tax becoming hugely topical and political rather than a deeply technical backwater.
National focus, global issue
The tax forum, chaired by Sara Harvey FCCA, calls on experts from around the world, even though tax itself is inherently a domestic issue. Increasing engagement from sub-Saharan Africa complements the forum’s existing strength across Asia Pacific, and the core membership in the UK. Even though tax law has a national focus, geographically wider engagement is necessary, since the digital economy has opened up new areas of debate.
‘Things are changing,’ says Piper, ‘but change will come slowly, which means the forum has to be geared towards responding to both traditional and digital tax issues, from societies at different stages of tax development.’
While the forum is heavy on accountants, there is plenty of industry input, although more input from the academic community to help challenge thinking would be welcome. ‘Please get in touch if you want to get involved,’ he says.
Global Forum for Business Law
The business law forum addresses the big issues that keep getting bigger, helping regulators to tackle corruption and keep businesses focused on social good.
‘Accountants are very often the go-to people for business advice, and knowing what laws govern businesses is essential for any valuable adviser,’ says Piper, the ACCA expert on this forum too.
The forum helps ACCA to position its input for policymakers around the globe, as they change and develop regulation. ‘Our most recent publications were on economic crime, and bribery and corruption,’ Piper says. ‘They were topical before, but now they’re very much in policymakers’ minds as they react to coronavirus, and the procurement processes and support measures governments have put in place around that.’
The business law forum is chaired by forensic accountant Dermot Madden from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Dublin, Ireland. This year it has been discussing with real concern issues about the value of integrity and how decision-makers in businesses guide what their company does – and what effect this has on society.
‘We work quite a lot with the tax forum too,’ says Madden. ‘It’s important to understand that tax structuring and evasion often goes hand in hand with corruption. These are truly global topics that demand globally minded consideration.
‘We have a small but committed core of experts on the forum, who engage enthusiastically, but we’d always welcome more members to broaden our perspective.’
The forum considers a lot of technology-focused issues in business law, such as the use of blockchain to recognise and enforce commercial agreements, and these are areas that are ripe for further expert input.