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Features - July 2010



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Development of accounting in The Bahamas

Development of accounting in The Bahamas

The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) was incorporated August 6, 1971, to regulate the practice of public accounting

The Bahamas Investor Magazine
June 21, 2010
June 21, 2010
Reece Chipman

The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) was incorporated August 6, 1971, to regulate the practice of public accounting. The Public Accountants Act 1991 was enacted by Parliament on July 17, 1991. The act and its regulations are the legislative powers given to the institute to govern and regulate the profession of public accounting. The act empowers the institute to issue licenses and forbid persons without licenses from doing business as public accountants.

Next year will mark 40 years since BICA was established and it is still committed to protecting the public interest by developing high standards, promoting ethical values and encouraging quality practice within the accounting profession in and outside of The Bahamas. The institute is committed to providing training, education and the examination of persons engaging in or intending to engage in the accounting profession. At present, BICA is comprised of over 450 members and 230 licensees.

BICA continues to reach out to stakeholders as an integral part in maintaining close relationships and affiliations with regulatory agencies within the country such as the Ministry of Finance, Compliance Commission, Central Bank of The Bahamas, the Insurance Commission and the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB). The institute has submitted position papers making specific recommendations on many policies and draft bills to these agencies.

As the business environment has changed significantly both locally and internationally due to the global financial crisis, the accountant profession has had to respond to the increasing demands of new international standards. Understanding the need to keep current with international standards, last year the institute submitted to the Attorney General’s Office legislative reforms to the Public Accountants Act, 1991.

Additionally, the Continuing Profession Education Committee of the institute holds monthly professional development seminars to update its members and stakeholders about key issues affecting the profession, as well as to introduce new international reporting standards (IFRSs) that have been released by the International Accounting Standard Boards (IASB).

In February this year, the institute adopted the IFRS for small and medium-sized entities (SMEs). The IFRS for SMEs is a self-contained standard of fewer than 230 pages, designed to meet the needs and capabilities of SMEs, which are estimated to account for over 95 per cent of all companies around the world.

BICA is also a member body of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the global organization of the accountancy profession. IFAC represents over 2.5 million accountants in 124 countries around the world.

From a regional perspective, the institute hosted the 28th annual Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC) conference under the theme “Responding to Change, Reshaping the Accounting Profession in the Caribbean” in The Bahamas June 24-27, 2010. The conference brought together over 400 professional accountants, as well as professionals from the finance and business sectors in the Caribbean to network and share ideas on regional and global issues. An impressive lineup of expert speakers from the Caribbean, the US, Canada and the UK addressed a wide range of topics.

Looking forward, the institute is committed to the next generation of accountants. The student education committee is actively engaged in dialogue with accounting students, both locally and aboard, through Internet social networking website Facebook and local seminars. The committee has held numerous seminars where students are informed of possible career paths and options to becoming a certified accountant. Students are encouraged to voice their concerns about the profession. At present, the institute offers an annual scholarship to The College of The Bahamas.

In conclusion, the future of the accounting profession in The Bahamas looks bright. As the institute actively develops a strategic plan for the next 40 years, we hope to increase membership and our influence both locally and internationally. We envision taking a proactive approach by becoming standards setters and making our presence felt globally. The accounting professional in The Bahamas has evolved over the past 40 years, and we look forward to the next 40.

Reece Chipman
Reece Chipman is the president of BICA and runs his own audit and accounting firm, CatsanChipman. He is a founding member of the Bahamas Association of Securities Dealers and President of The Nastac Group.

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