Not so small time
Updated: May 17
THE Filipino certified public accountant (CPA) is undeniably on the road to globalization.
Globalization comes with benefits, as well as challenges. In recent years, the public practice of the accounting profession has been subjected to several pressures. This is truer for what many call "small-time" practitioners, or whose practice generally caters to smaller businesses that the bigger accounting firms could not accommodate.
Among these pressures include the need to catch up with technological advances in the performance of audit activities, the increased competition in the job market, and the ballooning human and financial capital needed to open and maintain a "small-time" practice.
These pressures motivate many CPAs to choose employment over public practice. Setting up a public practice, even for experienced CPAs, remains to be too difficult, too stressful or too expensive.
Yet, the "small-time" practitioners perform an important role for the economy. Based on the latest survey of the Department of Trade and Industry, micro, small and medium enterprises comprise at least 99.5 percent of Philippine enterprises. Of this, 90.54 percent pertain to micro enterprises.
The "small-time" practitioners, together, cater to a big chunk of the country's economy in terms of the assurance services they provide.
To address these growing pressures brought by the practice, smaller practitioners need a good support system. The Association of Certified Public Accountants in Public Practice (Acpapp) is among those at the forefront of bringing smaller practitioners together, especially those in the provinces, to assist each other in their collective and localized needs.
Among other things that may be considered is the localization of several practice standards. The thrust of globalization of the Filipino CPA is laudable, but somebody has to serve the provinces, and the far-flung and rural areas. A Filipino CPA in the global arena surely brings pride to the nation. But, equal pride is brought by a Filipino CPA whose life and works are devoted to the underserved in the countryside. The Filipino CPA's professional service is first and foremost needed by his or her fellow Filipinos.
One thing is for sure. The growth of the public practice of accountancy must go both ways — to the countryside and globally. While there is overwhelming sufficient support for globalization, many local CPAs in public practice are left to fend off for themselves in facing the evolving pressures of the profession.
The recent establishment of the Acpapp Baguio-Benguet-La Union-Isabela Santiago, or BBLUIS Chapter, has solidified the need for stronger support systems of local CPAs in the public practice, especially those in the provinces. This chapter technically caters to the entire Northern Luzon. The scope remains to be wide, but it is a good start.
The establishment of local chapters greatly helps local CPAs in strengthening the delivery of services to the public. After all, a strong and ethical local Filipino CPA is the foundation of a globally competitive Filipino CPA.
The support systems provided by local Acpapp chapters must go beyond the provision of training, seminars and workshops. This should extend to the strength in lobbying for reforms in the practice, the representation of smaller CPA practitioners in decision-making and the consultation of smaller firms as to the feasibility of changes implemented in the practice. These more localized approaches will balance the profession's overzealous focus on globalization.
Simply, let's view the accountancy profession both from a local and a global lens. When we choose to walk one road, let us not turn our back on the other.
There are local realities that the accountancy profession must acknowledge. Down here, the public practice of accountancy has never been a competition. Down here, many micro businesses, in particular, and the public in general, need the assistance of CPAs. Down here, there are few to no CPAs practicing in some provinces.
In providing good support systems to smaller but growing practices and to CPAs looking to venture into public practice, we can address this perceived shortage of practitioners. Together, as a united profession, let us bring the public practice of accountancy to where it is needed the most.
The scope of the Filipino public that remains unserved by the practice of accountancy remains vast. Strengthening the local public practice of accountancy by helping smaller practitioners face the concerns of their localized practices is a step toward filling this void on the other end of the road.
In our quest to put the Filipino CPA on the map of the world, let us not forget those serving the unmapped in the Philippines. Let us build roads where the highways could not reach. Let us build streets where roads could not be built. Let us build walk paths to bring the accountancy profession where the streets end.
Atty. Banoar Abratique, CPA is the founder of Abratique Business Solutions, a growing audit and management consultancy firm serving Baguio City and Benguet. He is also an associate of Abratique, Dumawing and Associates Law Offices. He is a founding member of Acpapp Baguio-Benguet-La Union-Isabela Santiago Chapter and a member of Picpa. The views and opinions of the author do not reflect in any way those of these organizations.