The number of accountants who belong to professional accounting organizations that are members of the International Federation of Accountants grew 16 percent from 2.4 million to 2.8 million between 2009 and 2013.

The growth in membership of professional accountancy organizations, or PAOs, far exceeded total employment growth across almost all global regions and economies for the period 2009-2013, IFAC said in a report released Tuesday.

Approximately two-thirds of the growth was organic, while the other third was a result of additional PAOs joining IFAC.

The study, conducted for IFAC by the independent Center for Economics and Business Research, analyzes data from IFAC’s more than 175 members and associates in 130 countries and jurisdictions. In the U.S., the American Institute of CPAs and the Institute of Management Accountants are IFAC member organizations. The findings show that, following the global financial crisis, the number of professional accountants IFAC represents through its members grew 20 percent in advanced economies, despite low total employment growth of 2.6 percent, and 15 percent in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, despite low total employment growth of 2.9 percent.

“This study reinforces the importance of the global accountancy profession in good times and bad,” said IFAC CEO Fayez Choudhury in a statement. “In challenging environments, expert and trusted professional accountants help make sense of rapidly changing regulation and provide strategic advice that strengthens organizations and advances economies.”

The largest proportion of accountants in society—some 1.4 million—work outside of public practice, according to the report. The biggest proportion of IFAC PAO membership is in Europe, just under 1 million. Membership in IFAC’s European member organizations grew from 834,000 to 981,000 during the period of 2009 to 2013.

“From emerging to advanced economies, the report indicates the importance of the strong, vibrant profession IFAC’s members support,” said Choudhury. “It tells motivated young people considering career choices that accountants are required in all economic conditions; that rapid growth in emerging economies means there is need for more and better trained accountants; and that strong PAOs and professional accountants are intrinsic to the success of advancing economies. In addition, the role of accountants is not one-dimensional: more than half of the professional accountants IFAC represents through our members work in business and industry, the public sector, and academia, and some 45 percent work in public practice.”

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