WCOA 2022 – Day 1
The World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) is the most prestigious Accountancy Event in the world. Called the “Olympics of Accounting Profession” it was first held in 1940 in St. Louis, USA.
The 21st World Congress of Accountants was hosted by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India – ICAI and the International Federation of Accountants – IFAC in Mumbai, India. 18th November 2022 marked the commencement of this 4-day mega event, organized at Jio World Convention Center.
It witnessed record-breaking participation with over 6,000 delegates attending in person from over 100 countries, and 3,000 delegates participating virtually.
WCOA 2022 commenced with a glittering dance performance wherein artists welcomed the guests with their breathtaking dance forms from different states of India.
This warm greeting was followed by the inauguration of the ceremony, where chief guest Shri Om Birla, Honourable Speaker of Lok Sabha lit the lamp, alongside CA. (Dr.) Debashis Mitra – President, ICAI, CA. Aniket S. Talati – Vice President, ICAI, Mr Alan Johnson – Outgoing President, IFAC, and CA. Prafulla P. Chhajed – Chairman, WCOA 2022 Executive Committee.
Shri Om Birla addressed the audience by first congratulating ICAI for hosting such a grand event for the first time in India and South Asia.
He went on to praise the Chartered Accountancy profession and Chartered Accountants in his native language Hindi, “The CAs today are working towards the betterment of the people and society. The administrative and management skills of Indian Chartered Accountants are exceptional in any field they go to.”
Keynote speaker Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman was unable to attend the event in person. She virtually delivered the keynote address on the theme of WCOA 2022 ‘Building Trust Enabling Sustainability’.
While talking about transparency, she expressed that the fundamental requirement for corporate governance is accounts, which ensures transparency, clarity, and accountability in a company’s financial affairs. And accountants must ensure adherence to fair and transparent practices.
“The independence of Chartered Accountants is extremely important and significant for the trust and integrity of the financial statements. Therefore their responsibility is not limited just to the shareholders, since statutory filings and audit reports are public documents and they are relied on by various stakeholders, including financial institutions, governments, and common retail investors.” Said Smt. Sitharaman.
Chief Guests of WCOA address the audience
CA. Aniket Sunil Talati started his speech by acknowledging the presence of foreign delegates with the quote ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (Guest is God).
“The real intention of WCOA 2022 is to showcase the growth of the accountancy profession,” said CA Talati.
Esteemed guest Mr. Alan Johnson showed his appreciation by saying that just as the world has trusted India for G-20, the World Accountants have trusted India to host WCOA. The outgoing President of IFAC also mentioned that as Accounting Professionals, “We must lead the world from commitments to implementation.”
ICAI’s President, CA. Debashis Mitra reminded everyone once again that the success of the profession and the success of ICAI should be measured by the dignity it commands, alluding to the concept of building trust.
On the first day of WCOA 2022, a Plenary Session was held to discuss the role of “Accounting Profession: Trusted Partner in Sustainability and Society.”
The global accountancy profession is built on trust – both in terms of professional accountants’ role in enhancing trust in information, and the trust that society places in professional accountants.
Respected figures of the Accountancy profession gathered around to disperse their insightful point of view.
Moderating the panel was Mr. Alan Johnson.
He strongly suggested that “We need the richness of the profession and strong independent regulations.”
Panellist CA Atul Kumar Gupta, Board Member, IFAC and Past President, ICAI stated that “Trust is clarity. It should not be ambiguous” while discussing the role of accountants in maintaining sustainability in society.
According to him the 3 Rs that depict the profession are Registered, Recognized, and Regulated.
Agreeing with CA Atul Gupta was Ms. Merran Kelsall, President & Chairman of CPA Australia.
She shared that trust is the crucial asset or currency that needs to be protected.
While hovering over the topic of the session, Ms. Gabriela Figueiredo Dias – Chair of, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) highlighted the dilemma faced by the profession between confidentiality and duty to report.
“Reporting can be the best way of preventing big problems, big impacts, a problem that today means one dollar, tomorrow can be of 1 million dollars and in 1 week it can be a 10 million dollar problem,” said Ms. Gabriela.
Ms. Julie Linn Teigland joined in. She is the Managing Partner at EY for Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa.
In her opinion, Professional Accountants need to be skeptical while reporting to management. They must acquire data collection skills to ensure Ethics, Governance, and Integrity.
The panelists successfully covered the profession’s positive impact in the fight against economic crime, and how it will fulfill the sustainability agenda. And we at The Finance Story believe that the upcoming generation of accountants needs to take notes.
Delegates from around the world came together
It indeed was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the participating Regulators, Professional Accountants in Practice, Professional Accountants in Business and Industry, Global CEOs/CFOs/CXOs, Academicians, Consulting Practitioners, Global Accounting Institutions, Accounting Finance and Business Professionals, Auditors and Finance Controllers, Business Leaders to:
- Get insights on global practice and future trends with emerging avenues for the profession
- Extend their network
- Exchange ideas, knowledge, and books with peers across the Globe
- Know how accounting & finance professionals are changing the world for the better
- Grow their practice with valuable learnings from the stalwarts of the profession
- Economic Insights
- Informative and Practical sessions led by experts
- An exhibition of niche organizations showcasing their products and services to support and streamline your business and practice
Meeting the Stalwarts of the Accounting Profession
“Theme of the WCOA 2022 seems to be Sustainability, ESG, and Technology for Professional Accountants. I think this makes understanding and valuation of data analytics, blockchain, climate change, carbon credits, carbon finance suddenly very important,” wrote Mitesh Katira – Partner APMH and one of the attendees.
He got to meet CA Prafulla Chhajed – Chairman, of the Executive Committee of WCOA 2022 (IFAC), and Atul Mehta among others.
Getting the Presidents of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), and Chartered Accountants Ireland and Scotland in one room does not happen very often. But CA Indy Singh Hothi, President of ICAS – The Professional Body of CAs was able to capture the amazing moment.
The beautiful day came to an end with the Networking Dinner and musical performance of Sonu Nigam, a gem of the Indian music industry.
ICAI made great efforts to make it a Carbon-Neutral event. What captivated the attendees most was the tech innovation at the conference and the 3 robots deployed by ICAI that welcomed them, coordinated sessions, etc.
Needless to say, the congress was a huge success.