Global Accounting Alliance

The Global Accounting Alliance (GAA) is an alliance of the top 10 professional accounting bodies of the world. They include the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Germany, South Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, Scotland, England, and Australia & New Zealand (both represent one organization). The alliance was formed in 2005 in hopes to promote quality services and tend to important international accounting issues. They work with other global regulators, especially the International Federation of Accounting (IFAC), stakeholders, and governments to regulate and improve global accounting practices. The organization provides a bond for its members so they can work more closely to address issues that have implications for multiple jurisdictions. They meet in person three times per year, and then over telecommunications for smaller conferences. Soon after their establishment, they created an online journal that publishes articles bi-monthly to provide the latest news on international financial markets.

The GAA has a main focus of reducing the complexity of financial reporting and moving toward principle-based standards. The problem is that there are legal, cultural, and regulatory principles established in different countries that make the switch to similar practices a challenge. Although it is nearly impossible to accept a single statute for auditors examining financial statements, they are doing the most they can with the other regulators to mesh ideas together and simplify practices. They also provide information about the business and accounting industry which firms can get a hold of and learn from.

The GAA also provides a passport for any member of the alliance. This means if you travel abroad to any of the ten countries that are a part of the alliance, as most accountants might have to do, you will have access to the respective services. The amount of people affiliated with the alliance is over one million, so it is a good idea to grant access to any of the major firms and their services. Some benefits that come with the membership, along with the access to other firms, include newsletters, network events, affinity products, and technical assistance. The extent of the benefits depend on the location, like the price of a specific product. Providing members with immediate access builds strong relationships, and allows them to learn ideas from different points of view (cultural or political).

An article published by the GAA magazine in November of 2014 explained the importance of succession planning, an issue they thought had a rise in concern. The article states that about half of all U.S. CPA firms will lose a top partner to retirement in the next five years, according to a survey they conducted in May of 2014. The goal of the article was to address succession issues that firms will eventually run into. They point out five major challenges that come up when dealing with filling top corporate positions. The challenges include looming transition needs, roadblocks to the path of leadership, challenges for sole practitioners, time constraints that impede planning, and problems with plan implementation. In the midst of running a business, a top priority for an executive is not to assign a successor four or five years from now. That fact of the matter is that it is an important decision to address when faced with it. The article provides tips to avoid last-minute frustration including researching exit strategy options, and creating a formal plan that has retirement rights, responsibilities, and training for future leaders.

The formation of the GAA has proved to be important by providing accountants from around the world with helpful knowledge on how to improve the practices and standards for the ever-changing accounting profession. They provide discussion boards and forums for people to provide their own insight on how they envision change. The establishment of the alliance has provided a gateway to share and exchange vital information not just in the U.S., but internationally. The idea of providing a passport to use internationally is smart because different views are able to be heard and exchanged. With their ongoing support of the IFAC and other regulatory bodies, the GAA has helped build on and improve the basic accounting practices we follow today, while also providing up to date information on international accounting news.

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