Accountants’ role in transparency and cash flow management cannot be underestimated

A Chartered Accountant and a Financial Services Consultant, Mr Isaac Charles Acquah, says every organisation or corporate entity needs an accountant to manage its transparency, public accountability, and cash flow management.

He said Accountants played a crucial role in effective corporate governance that could not be underestimated and helped to significantly reduce the countless weak governance practices that led to significant erosion in market valuation.

He made the remark at a virtual workshop organised by the Accra West District Society of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG), on the topic: “Effective Corporate Governance and the Role of the Accountant”.

According to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, Corporate Governance is the system by which companies are directed and controlled, he said.

During the recent banking crisis in Ghana, he said a Banking Consultant, Dr. Richmond Atuahene underscored poor Corporate Governance as the lead course ahead of micro-economic instability and regulatory lapses.

Mr Acquah said the governance system was a necessary structure for the orderly flow of information to inform action, however, a poor governance system ultimately led to inadequate flow of information, poor evaluation of information, and thus, ineffective decision making.

He mentioned consistency, responsibility, accountability, fairness, transparency, and effectiveness as some of the Good Corporate Governance principles.

“As the ultimate role of the Accountant is to provide information which facilitates decision making, one may appreciate that the effectiveness of Corporate Governance has a lot to do with the Accountant,” he said.

On disclosure and transparency management, the Financial Services Consultant said the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Principle of corporate governance mandated organisations to honestly disclose all information, including their financial status, performance, and ownership, to stakeholders for maintaining transparency.

This disclosure, he explained helped to improve public understanding of a company’s structure and activities, its corporate policies and performance.

Moreover, he said Accountants helped companies to make effective plans regarding their growth and operations.

“For instance, Accountants can help identify areas that are incurring more costs than returns. Based on this information, companies can plan growth strategies in a way that not only complies with industry regulations but also ensures good returns,” he added.

Mr Acquah, speaking on Public Accountability Management, said Accountants monitored processes to make sure companies were not indulging in unethical practices to present incorrect financials to the public.

On Shareholder Accountability Management, Accountants had a responsibility of carefully consolidating financial information to present accurate figures to the shareholders.

For the part of Cash Flow Management, he explained that Accountants helped companies not just to plan long-term strategies, but helped to address short-term and everyday necessities in organisations, and as well helped enterprises to manage their line of credit and monitor all short-term financial resources, which assisted in avoiding unnecessary debt.

He outlined responsibilities such as advising on the establishment of a sound internal control mechanism, constantly evaluating and improving on the internal control environment and establishing and managing a sound accounting system that delivered accurate and timely financial information for decision making as some of the tasks Accountants played to ensure effective corporate governance.

Others were establishing effective internal audit and risk management systems, advising in the crafting of an effective strategy to advance corporate objectives, making honest financial disclosures to stakeholders, and upholding their professional ethics at all times, and resisting being drawn into fraudulent activities.

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