The question of the accounting profession, and whether it supports the public interest or the capital interest is one that is highly controversial and has through the years provoked mixed reactions from the stakeholders involved. The accounting profession, being an integral facet of the society, has its role deep-rooted in both the state as well as corporate sector. In relation, it is highly expected of it to serve the public interest. The central question however remains, is it serving this purpose or the pressure from the society has moulded it into serving the interest of the capital.
The accounting standard setting process can be used to reflect the capacity of the Australian accounting profession in serving the public interest. Specific references can also be made from CLERP Act and ASIC Act. The combined effects of the listed acts are to technically legislate bias so that to manipulate and ensure that accounting standards privilege the needs of the capital holders, in other words, capital interest (Guthrie & Parker, 2016). Relatively, there has been a growing assumption that capital markets are surrogate for the public interest. In relation, it has been made quite clear that if the accounting profession follows the national objectives to support capital markets, it is most likely that it will undermine the role of it serving the society.
The case study contends with the underlying view that the accounting profession acts to legitimise the capitalist system. Just as it has previously been argued out, the accounting profession is a vital facet of the society in general (Mintz, 2016). Subsequently, accounting has evolved from society and is hence socially constructed and is also socially constructing. Consequently, this can be taken to mean that the profession influences the society and that it is also influenced by the society. In the words of Solomon (1978), the accounting profession should ensure that it does not confuse its role which is striving for the representational faithfulness of accounting standards with the role of accommodating national objectives. When this is done, the key stakeholders diminish their capacity to serve the society and ultimately, everyone is likely to lose.
With all these controversial arguments presented, it is safe to argue that the Australian accounting profession’s capacity to serve the public interest of the society has extensively diminished (Tucker & Schaltegger, 2016). Wyatt in “The public rightfully expects” (2004, p. 52) argues that the accounting profession has through the years been expected to be practical, intellectual and also have high regard for the public. Therefore, upholding these characteristics is the key to how the accounting profession will retain its relevancy. Additionally, an important aspect of this profession, just as the other related professions is that they ascribe to status or privileged position in the society. In regards, the haves is presented as the group of people with more societal privileges than the have-nots. It is therefore justified to argue that criticism that points out that the accounting profession act to legitimise the capitalist system is profound and relatively true. It is, therefore, necessary for the involved stakeholders to re-evaluate the strategies through which the profession operates.
Guthrie, J., & Parker, L. D. (2016). Whither the accounting profession, accountants and accounting researchers? Commentary and projections. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 29(1), 2-10.
Mintz, S. (2016). Accounting for the public interest. Springer,.
Tucker, B. P., & Schaltegger, S. (2016). Comparing the research-practice gap in management accounting: A view from professional accounting bodies in Australia and Germany. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 29(3), 362-400.