INTERVIEW: Nasser AL-KAUD
Head of the GCC Accounting & Auditing Organization (GCCAAO)
We spoke with the head of the GCCAAO, Dr. Nasser Al-Kaud, about the organization and its evolving role.
What is the greatest challenge to the accounting profession in the GCC? In reflecting on the challenges to the accounting profession in the GCC, Dr. Al-Kaud said that the most challenging area is how to localize the profession. Most of the region’s accounting services are provided by non-nationals, and there is a move across the region to employ nationals. Thus, there is a need to improve education in accounting and auditing to produce well-prepared accounting professionals who can compete nationally and regionally.
In your role, what issues/areas do you want to focus on for GCCAAO? For the future, Dr. Al Kaud would like to find a niche for the GCCAAO to differentiate it from other organizations. To this end, he is working on a common market for all the GCC countries, with one unified law and set of standards of accounting. He would like to see more cooperation between the profession and academics so that curricula reflect the current needs of the marketplace.
What is the activity or main effort that you are most proud of? In looking back over his tenure, Dr. Al-Kaud is most proud of the improvements that have been made since he took office. There are now annual meetings for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the Gulf region, and there are more training opportunities and other events to help professionals stay up to date and expand their knowledge. The GCCAAO’s annual conference will be held in March 2014, with the Saudi Minister of Trade opening the forum and representatives from the International Accounting Standards Board and IFAC attending. Looking forward, however, he sees that there is still a lot of work to do, and he hopes that the GCCAAO will continue to be a leader in the effort to improve the profession across the region.
GCC Accounting & Auditing Organization
The GCCAAO, formed in 1998, was accepted as a regional accounting grouping by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) in 2013. Its members are the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar—as well as Yemen. Its objectives are to lead and regulate the accounting and auditing profession in the GCC countries and Yemen in accordance with best international standards and practices. To this end, it aims to improve regulations in its member countries and, where possible, to make them consistent in all countries. It also works to develop the accounting profession through the professional accountancy organizations and accounting firms. Its aim is to promote the development of high-quality professionals who will contribute to stronger growth and stability in the economy.
The GCCAAO is currently working on four main activities to enhance the accountancy profession in its member countries:
- Draft law. The GCCAAO has drafted a law to regulate the profession in its member countries. The draft law will soon be reviewed by an internal committee made up of trade ministers and relevant authorities from each of the GCCAAO member countries. One area this law focuses on is accounting standards across the GCC. Most countries in the GCC have adopted the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)—Saudi Arabia most recently; Yemen is in the process of adopting the IFRS.
- Certification. To help ensure that all professionals in its member countries have an appropriate level of knowledge and training, the GCCAAO has set up the GCCAAO Certified Public Accountant examination (GCPA) to assess an individual’s technical and professional capabilities; those who pass may become certified public accountants in the region. The examination, which is held twice a year in the UAE or Qatar, covers financial accounting, administrative accounting, auditing, trade law, Zakat (charitiable giving), and taxes, and is available in both English and Arabic. The GCCAAO has also set up a training course to help prepare individuals for the examination. The GCCAAO is encouraging all member countries to recognize the GCPA to ensure uniformity across the region. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have their own examinations and have not adopted the GCPA, but the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman all recognize the GCPA.
- Quality assurance program. To help improve the quality of the accounting profession and financial reports across the region, the GCCAAO has signed an agreement with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to develop a quality assurance program and create a monitoring unit to ensure the quality of audits. It is now discussing the program with member states.
- Research. Part of the GCCAAO’s mandate is to conduct and encourage research in the field of accountancy. GCCAAO’s research unit has recently completed a study to design a program for a diploma for Zakat offices, and it is looking to expand its research into relevant accounting topics.
The GCCAAO is active in communicating with its members, sending regular newsletters and a quarterly magazine.