It’s December 2022 and Asmâa Resmouki is speaking to AB about her plans as the newly elected president of IFAC, the international accountancy federation. It’s also the eve of the Fifa men’s World Cup semi-final, a tournament that has seen Resmouki’s home team Morocco become the first African nation to reach the penultimate stage in the football competition.
Just like her native country’s football team, Resmouki has seized the opportunity of performing in the international arena. ‘It has been an amazing conjunction of circumstances,’ she says of her journey from Casablanca auditor to IFAC president.
‘We need to learn, have an open mindset, upskill and reskill if we want to seize the sustainability opportunity’
So what is on her agenda as IFAC president? ‘We must remain agile and flexible so that we can adapt,’ she says. ‘I have three priorities: education and training, ethics, and the attractiveness of the profession.’
On education and training, she says that while the profession has an ambition to play an important role in sustainability, it must recognise there is still a shortage of expertise. ‘In the profession we have the foundation to build additional layers of skills. But we need to learn, have an open mindset, upskill and reskill if we want to seize this opportunity.’
She sees ethics as the ‘skeleton’ of the profession. ‘Without trust we are nothing,’ she says. ‘Trust can be lost quickly, but it is also something that distinguishes us from other professions.’
The third priority is ensuring the profession remains an attractive career option. ‘We want to listen to our young professionals, find out what worries them about the profession, and also what it is that attracts them. But we are a global organisation, and the needs and ambitions of people can be different around the world.’
‘I originally wanted to join a consultancy. There weren’t any in Morocco at the time, but we did have audit firms’
Resmouki has certainly come a long way to reach her current leader position in the accounting world.
From an early age she knew she wanted a career in business. After studying for an MBA in the US, she joined an audit practice in Morocco.
‘After being exposed to an international culture and students from all over the world, I originally wanted to join a consultancy firm,’ she recalls. ‘There weren’t any in Morocco at the time, but we did have audit firms.’
Her accountancy career saw her pass through two Big Four firms – EY and Deloitte. ‘I was promoted to partner at a young age, and in fact was the first female partner of a big firm in Morocco. When I became a manager, I was the only woman, but after that, many other women followed.’
PAFA and IFAC
Partnership wasn’t the only door to open. In 2008, she was encouraged to stand for election to the regional council of Morocco’s professional body, the Ordre des Experts-Comptables du Maroc (OEM). Her reputation clearly preceded her and she was duly elected without any lobbying, becoming chair of the organisation’s quality control committee. In her third year with OEM, she was asked to join the main board of the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) to bring more diversity and someone from a French-speaking country.
She was fully prepared to leave PAFA when her two-year co-option term ended, but with an empty seat on the board for north Africa, ‘I felt compelled to raise my hand’. She later became vice president and president.
She also became an observer at IFAC meetings, and in 2017 applied to join IFAC’s main board while also chairing its governance board. ‘And then people began to suggest that I stood in the election for IFAC deputy president!’ The rest, as they say, is history. Resmouki became deputy president in November 2020, and president in 2022, having left Deloitte in 2020 to set up her own consultancy.
‘We are an interconnected profession in an interconnected world and only as strong as our weakest link’
Board member, then deputy president, now president, IFAC
Board member, later vice president and president, PAFA
Partner and country risk leader, Deloitte Morocco
Manager, then audit partner, EY
CFO, Dewhirst (Marotis), Morocco
Senior auditor, EY, Casablanca
Junior auditor, Deloitte, Casablanca
Chain of experts
Africa, though, remains close to her heart. ‘Capacity building is important,’ she says. ‘We are an interconnected profession in an interconnected world and are only as strong as our weakest link.’
There is a clear link here to sustainability – of the profession and the wider global economy. ‘Our experience in assurance means that we have a big role to play in ESG [environmental, social and governance],’ she explains. ‘There will be other experts, but we need to make sure that the ethical part is covered. Greenwashing is a big risk.’
Resmouki describes IFAC’s vision and purpose as ‘durable’, with a framework that ‘articulates our approach for strong and sustainable impact’.
How will she measure her success? ‘It is about the impact on people,’ she says. ‘Success with, through and for people.’
And much like the Moroccan football team, it is an impact that she hopes will be lasting.