School of Accountancy through July 4

Posting may be infrequent over the next few weeks as I focus on the School of Accountancy, which started yesterday and doesn’t end until July 4. It’s being held at York University‘s Keele Campus in North York (Toronto).

It consists of classes every day, two practice exams this Friday and the following Friday, and the final exam at the end. I’m not the only blogger who’s there either!

The School of Accountancy curriculum provides for the development and enhancement of required CA competencies through integration and application of technical knowledge. It is also fundamental to the development of pervasive CA qualities (ethical behavior, personal attributes, professional perspective and judgment) and specific CA competencies required for the UFE and the practice of public accounting.

Case studies addressing professional-level competencies and reflecting real business scenarios, likely to be encountered in practice, are used extensively. Students experience a significant amount of work in small groups, including presentations, throughout the three-week period – there are no lectures at the School of Accountancy.

So far there have been minimal presentations. They’ve been limited to just sharing the results of small group discussions, and haven’t required standing up in front of the class. My seminar leaders may be going easy on us though, it may be different in other seminars.

There are around 1,100 CA students here, and we’re broken up into groups of about 30 for seminars, and small groups of 5 within the seminars for group work on the cases.

Accounting Standards

More discussion of rules versus principles

Dennis over at AccMan Pro has commented on the difference between rules-based US GAAP and international principles-based IFRS, and his thoughts echo mine:

Recent commentary has suggested the idea of convergence between US GAAP and IFRS won’t happen until hell freezes over. I’ve long held the view that the rules based US GAAP system is primarily responsible for many of the problems US based companies have experienced. It is the structural defect of being rules driven. Any time there are rules in place, companies and individuals will seek to find ways around them. It allowed CA and PeopleSoft to engage in creative accounting practices, which, in the case of CA, have been deemed fraudulent. And which eventually led to the corporate nose bleed that is SOX.

I’m discouraged that he seems so certain that convergence of US GAAP and IFRS won’t happen any time soon. Canadian GAAP is moving towards convergence, as is the rest of the world it seems.

I suppose we’ll have to wait until the US is no longer a superpower (which will no doubt happen in my lifetime) before they start to work with the rest of the planet. Rules are meant to be broken, or so the saying goes, and its been played out for all to see in the cases mentioned by Dennis above and with Enron and WorldCom and countless others.

Under a principles based system, professional judgement takes centre stage and the aim is to reflect the substance of the transaction as opposed to fitting it into the rules as they exist. It allows the professionals to do their job: Determining whether the statements are fairly presented. It doesn’t take a professional to figure out if the rules are met.