Auditors and CFOs in Asia will be subjected to unprecedented scrutiny Accountants must adapt to the future by abandoning self-regulation and accepting a balanced approach to regulation and independent oversight, says the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). 'Long-held traditions of accountants and other professions to self-regulate are changing rapidly,' says Allen Blewitt, the ACCA's newly appointed chief executive. In the wake of scandals such as Enron and WorldCom, the association's former Asia-Pacific executive director warns that auditors and chief financial officers in the region will be subjected to unprecedented scrutiny. 'There is no question that the profession's future will be more structured, more governed by predominantly global standards and more under scrutiny from various national and international oversight bodies. Accountants must change the way they think as they will have to expect to report both on the independence of their judgment and on a number of extra areas of corporate activity.' Issuing his warning at the last Asean Federation of Accountants (AFA) meeting, Mr Blewitt predicted auditors would have to report on an organisation's internal control procedures - and move rapidly to embrace detection of fraud as part of their audits, otherwise markets would continue to be sceptical about them. 'I predict that in three to five years and beyond, it is likely that risk management procedures and corporate governance will also be subject to some form of independent audit,' he says. Meanwhile, CFOs in commerce and industry face new challenges from the accelerating pace of globalisation, technology and new business requirements, he says. They will have to diversify their skills to embrace new market development, logistics, strategic alliances and performance management. The scope of additional work, including international financial reporting standards, enhanced corporate governance requirements, socially responsible investment and environmental reporting means they will train, retrain and thoroughly embrace lifelong learning. Otherwise they risk becoming obsolete or seeing their functions outsourced. 'CFOs need to be leaders and more visible and outspoken. There will be no room for CFOs who want to cover up failures of companies to achieve performance or targets,' he says. Mr Blewitt is renowned in the accountancy profession in the region. He is experienced in advising developing countries and oversaw 100,000 ACCA members and students in 13 countries in his previous role as regional executive director. He also co-ordinated eight ACCA offices in Australia, Greater China, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Mr Blewitt says of his new appointment: 'The ACCA is a strong, rapidly growing and influential global accountancy body and I look forward to enhancing its reputation and influence at this particularly challenging time for the profession.'