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August 18, 2008

Mid-tier network launches large scale technical training programme on international standards

UHY International has rolled out network-wide training on IFRS – the network’s first global technical training exercise.

Sixty senior level staff from the UHY firms in US, Canada and Latin and South America attended the course in June and there are plans to expand training further afield.

UHY International chairman John Wolfgang told the International Accounting Bulletin the programme was first conceived by senior partners at the network’s annual meeting last October.

“Following that, we formed a training group that would be laddered from an entry level of understanding to an advanced level of understanding and built a training programme on more technical capabilities. We can now start teaching our staff about IFRS and then over two or three years increase their knowledge base,” he said.

“I think if you are talking about the training as a group you are looking at putting about 200-300 people a year through that process,” he continued. “What we started with was training our high-level people back in June. Those people can utilise that training in local offices using the same books to do smaller training sessions. We have 22 offices in the US so having everybody go to that training programme would be a little bit more difficult.”

Although UHY International conducts global training on soft skills, this is the first time the network is sponsoring technical training, which is normally left to firms or regional clusters of firms to co-ordinate.

“From the soft skills side we have been globally training for a while, and we have a lot of internal training at our regional meetings and at our annual meetings,” Wolfgang explained. “But the IFRS training group, and what they are looking at right now, is about having a pure curriculum of more technical training that we can carry forward.”

UHY efforts to provide IFRS training come at a time when US regulators toy with the idea of allowing US companies to use the global standards without the expensive requirement to restate financial reports in US GAAP. Wolfgang, who is the managing director of UHY Advisors NY, believes it is likely that the standards could become a part of the professional landscape in a couple of years, which raises other important questions in his mind.

“The concern I have is are we ready for it yet, and that will be the key question and focus,” he said. “What have we done at the universities, what have we done in the profession and how are we dealing with it? Are we going to have international convergence so that everything is the same or will we have convergence with exceptions that say country A is going to this way and B is doing it this way?

“I don’t think we are ready for it at all and we need three or fours years to get ready from a training perspective and client perspective. One of the things we have talked about is not just from training our own people but clients and how are we going to immerse the clients in this process? We have struggled a little bit with how we get that information to the clients and how we get them ready, and I think that will take some time.”

Wolfgang said network-wide training programmes could eventually incorporate other technical areas as the need arises.

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