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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Growth on KPMG's horizon

Growth on KPMG's horizon

INTERNATIONAL accounting giant KPMG says it will adapt to meet plans to restrict the final sign off of audited financial statements to Cambodians by 2014.

While some in the accounting industry have raised questions over whether the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s timeline for change is realistic, KPMG chairman for Vietnam and Cambodia John Ditty said the firm’s priority was the quality of work, rather than the nationality of the accountant signing their approval.

“I’m less concerned about who puts their signature on the bottom – that’s a compliance issue, which we will deal with,” he said, during a recent visit to Phnom Penh.

The practice of restricting the final signature on audited reports to domestic nationals was common in neighbouring countries, he said.

“I’m comfortable with what [the Cambodian government] is planning to do. I understand the desire to have Cambodian nationals sign Cambodian audit reports,” he said.

The limits on who will sign the reports may present more of a challenge to smaller firms, according to KPMG Cambodia senior partner Craig
McDonald.

Some smaller domestic accounting firms centre on a single foreign employee, who could face challenges with the new rules, he said.

Industry oversight association ACCA’s country head Dalis Chhorn has told the Post that Cambodia presently has 37 fully qualified accountants at an international standard, but McDonald said that there were a number of opportunities opening up for young Cambodians.

“The fact there’s only 37 should encourage Cambodians to be part of the next 37, the next fifty, the next hundred,” he said.

KPMG is also looking towards the future. The firm has grown at an average of 25 percent in the Kingdom each year over the last three years, a trend it expects will continue in the medium term.

John Ditty said KPMG’s goal was to grow faster than the domestic economy, and added Cambodia’s stock exchange – which is slated to launch in mid-2011 – will further business for accountants.

He expects Cambodia’s bourse would start relatively small – similar to Vietnam’s exchange when it first launched – but would grow over time.

Publicly traded companies would face more onerous accounting and reporting standards than private firms, he said, but would have greater access to finance and hiring talent as transparency improves.

“As long as the benefits – the increased access to capital markets – outweigh the cost of doing it, companies will list,” he said.

KPMG operates three primary business lines in Cambodia, including auditing, tax, and advisory services.

Audit and tax services have traditionally been KPMG’s main business in the Kingdom, but Ditty said he expects the firm to fill increased advisory roles in coming years.

KPMG’s largest clients in the Kingdom include ACLEDA, ANZ Royal Bank, and Mobitel.

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