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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Accounting Education, Volume 17, Issue 4, Winter 1999, Pages 367–390
In comparison to other countries, the requirements on the education of professional auditors in Germany have been considered to be the toughest in the world. However, German professionals risk losing this position since there are countries which seem to adapt more quickly and appropriately to changes in the accounting environment. The first part of the paper provides a review of the current state of the education for qualified auditors in Germany with special reference to the according EU-Directives and IFAC-Rules. It is shown that there are various issues which have to be accounted for in order to meet the challenges of the future. The remainder of the paper focuses on challenges due to changes in the accounting and auditing environment, on challenges due to an enlargement of the scope of statutory audit and — finally — on challenges due to the need for diversification from auditing to assurance services.
Differences in cultural, economic and legal developments in various parts of the world have led to world-wide differences between the accounting professions. In spite of these differences, there exist European and world-wide efforts to contribute to a standardization of the accounting and auditing standards of individual countries. On the European level, reference should be given to the Council of the European Union, which has issued a series of EC-Directives, and the Federation of European Professional Accountants (‘Fédération des Experts Comptables Européens’, FEE). A particular effort at global standardization of auditing standards has been made since 1977 by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). Among the auditing standards of individual countries, a special role is attributed to the educational standards, since it is assumed that adherence to a minimum level will have a positive effect on audit quality (Needles, 1990). The aim of the current paper is to describe the present accounting educational system of the accounting profession in Germany (German qualified auditors) against the background of international efforts at standardization, and to discuss future challenges for the education of professional accountants. The paper is organized as follows. Section 2.1 describes the present requirements for the qualified auditors according to the European Directives and the IFAC standards and guidelines which apply world-wide. Section 2.2 discusses the current state of the education of accountants for members of the German accounting profession. Section 2.3 deals with the question of whether or not the requirements discussed in section 2.1 are met by the German educational system in accounting. The challenges for the auditing profession and their implications for education in accountancy are examined in section 3. A conclusion is given in section 4.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The education system for professional accountants in Germany is mostly governed by legal regulations. The influence of the German audit profession on the passing of regulations on education and continued professional education of German statutory auditors however is very small (‘statutory versus professionalism control’; Gray, 1988). According to Gray’s hypothesis (1988) and the taxonomy of Margerison and Moizer (1996), this can be explained above all by the cultural dimension ‘high uncertainty avoidance’ in Germany. In countries with a ‘weak uncertainty avoidance’, such as, for example, Great Britain, the possibility of self-regulation of the audit profession is greater (Evans and Nobes, 1998 and Margerison and Moizer, 1996). Compared with other countries, the education in accountancy in Germany has been at the leading edge for a long time. The demands made on the education of professionals in Germany have been regarded as some of the toughest in the world. Although those requirements have not changed, the German accounting profession risks losing this leading position due to considerable changes in the accounting environment. There are countries which seem to adapt more quickly and more appropriately to those changes and might therefore meet the resulting challenges better. As pointed out in the first part of the paper, Germany easily fulfils the rules of the Eighth Directive and complies in most respects with the IFAC guidelines. However, it lags behind those guidelines in terms of the broadness and depth of competence which accounting education should provide. The areas which are under-represented in the professional curriculum are mathematics, statistics, behavioral science and information technology. It would appear that the two last areas are becoming more and more important due to the challenges which the accounting profession will have to meet in the future. As the last chapter shows, accounting is becoming increasingly complex. This must have an impact on the process and content of accountancy education. There is a high demand for knowledge in various fields and the necessity for individuals with high ethical characteristics. Due to the constant and rapid change in the accounting environment, continuing professional education will become more important than ever before. In this respect, it is the duty of the professional bodies in each country to provide adequate training programs which enable the accountants to meet the challenges facing them. The IFAC has stated that an educational approach should be chosen which emphasizes learning to learn and which develops a base on which life-long learning habits can be built (IFAC, 1998a). The German accounting profession has to improve the current system of professional education. As stated earlier, continuing professional education is mandatory. However, there are no specific requirements monitoring its quality. So far a so-called ‘armchair self education’ has still been possible in Germany, but as soon as IFAC’s Proposed International Education Guideline is approved, the German professional body will probably abandon its reluctance. Another effect of the increased complexity will be a significant trend towards professional specialization. With regard to the new challenges and service functions, it will be impossible for one accountant to cover all professional areas. The scope of capabilities and skills needed has become far too large to be provided by one single person, even if his education had been excellent. Only a team of experts specialized in different fields can provide the necessary spectrum and competent intensity. This requires the ability to work in interdisciplinary and international teams. On a market-wide scale, a division of labor between various types of accounting firms will occur. On the one hand, the big accounting firms might be able to cover the entire scope of service functions. On the other hand small accounting firms will specialize in specific parts of the service portfolio. For specific projects, joint efforts of tiny specialized firms and big companies will be mandatory. This again requires the ability to work in teams and networks. The increasing concentration and competition on the audit market, affecting compensation of the audit service required and responsible for cost-reducing measures, and the importance of services other than auditing for the economic benefit of an auditing firm, will significantly increase the threats to auditors’ independence. The larger the variety of services the accounting profession provides, the higher the risk to abandon independence. Therefore it is very important to develop rules which provide guidance on services which do not impair an auditor’s independence. For education in accounting it is a challenge to strengthen the importance of professional ethics, especially with regard to an auditor’s independence, in order to ensure the quality of all the services provided by accountants, with objectivity and personal integrity being the key factors of long term success.