Transitioning to International Standards on Auditing has become an important issue for many accountants, according to a new survey.

The survey, by the International Federation of Accountants, found that transitioning to International Standards on Auditing is a crucial issue—96 percent of survey respondents cited this as very important or important, compared with 83 percent last year. There was also universal sentiment that IFAC, as a representative of the global accountancy profession, has a key role to play in convergence and leading the way in the global adoption and implementation of standards.

Virtually all survey participants (98 to 99 percent) said that IFAC plays a very important or important role relating to confidence in, and adoption of, high-quality international standards.

The vast majority of survey participants said IFAC should continue to work toward convergence and effective implementation of international standards. To encourage implementation, 91 percent of those surveyed said that developing guidance regarding international standards and corporate governance principles is very important or important. 

Sustainability emerged as a key issue in the survey, with 91 percent saying that advancing corporate social responsibility, including sustainability, is important, compared to 82 percent last year. In addition, 95 percent of respondents said that addressing the needs of small and midsized enterprises and practices is crucial.

The importance of ethics also was cite. Auditor independence and discussing expectations to prevent and detect fraud were cited by 91 percent and 89 percent of respondents, respectively. The survey also confirmed the widespread opinion that there is a clear need to have a global code of ethics to protect the fundamental qualities of the profession, particularly relating to independence. According to participants, the code needs to take local culture into account, and needs to be effectively enforced.

Demand for professional accountants continues to grow, according to survey participants. Significant demand is seen across various sectors, particularly in public practice, with approximately three-quarters of respondents saying that demand is very high or high in public practice-accounting/advisory/tax/other (78 percent) and public practice-auditing/assurance (71 percent).

These results compare positively to IFAC’s 2009 survey, in which 77 percent and 65 percent, respectively, of respondents cited very high or high demand in these areas. Those surveyed said that the accountancy profession continues to be attractive due to career options, the ability to work internationally, and earning potential.