Three business people discuss graphs on screen in meeting room

“Here in Canada, a collaborative approach between auditors, regulators, standard-setters and financial institutions provides a strong infrastructure for the delivery of high-quality information to investors,” says Joy Thomas, president and CEO of CPA Canada. (Photo by Monty Rakusen/Getty Images)

Features | From Pivot Magazine

Keeping ahead of our times

A word from Joy Thomas, president and CEO of CPA Canada

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There’s always a lot happening in our profession, so this month I wanted to address three different topics: the audit landscape, financial literacy and our new branding campaign. 

As research and experience shows, audit quality is driven by many inextricably connected factors—including corporate culture, standards compliance, good governance and the work of robust, independent audit committees. 

Here in Canada, a collaborative approach between auditors, regulators, standard-setters and financial institutions provides a strong infrastructure for the delivery of high-quality information to investors. Our shared goals are clear: act in the public interest and support Canada’s well-respected and efficient capital markets. Canada’s audit ecosystem is built on integrity, trust and respect, and there is a collective understanding that it must evolve in response to globalization, technology and user expectations.

Joy Thomas, CEO and President of CPA CanadaJoy Thomas (Photo by Matt Barnes)

The cover story of this edition of Pivot examines the many forces, pressures and possibilities that are influencing the work of CPAs at a time of heightened scrutiny of audit practices around the world. Events like the sudden collapse of the U.K. construction giant Carillion not only have consequences internationally, but they also raise important questions about audit quality, as well as the state of regulatory and professional oversight. 

Consequently, the focus on audit has provided an opportunity for Canadian CPAs to advance their reputation for leadership and excellence. Among other things, Canadian CPAs are working to strengthen the relevance of audit in a climate when investors seek out information from multiple (and often unaudited) sources.

Research we have conducted in conjunction with FEI Canada shows that audit quality is most strengthened when the auditor, audit committee and management work together as a “three-legged stool.” In addition, last year, CPA Canada and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland co-hosted a “Future of Audit” symposium for senior accounting professionals. The session concentrated on three core topics: the profession’s role in the reporting of key performance indicators, audit data analytics and the skill set that will be required of auditors in the future. The success of the symposium is leading to a follow-up session to take place in Scotland. 

CPA Canada is further expanding the conversation about the future of audit through our ambitious consultation initiative called Foresight: Re-imagining the Profession. Please join in the discussion at

Canada’s chartered professional accountants value collaboration and welcome working in conjunction with all key stakeholders to ensure the investing public remains protected. Yet we can’t rest on our laurels. This country has a well-recognized track record of working to keep pace with the constantly changing marketplace. We’ll continue to evolve with a forward-looking philosophy.

In Canada, November marks Financial Literacy Month, and the choice of late fall is appropriate timing given that many of us will start spending like crazy in the run-up to the holidays. But financial literacy is about much more than managing a credit card bill. A sound understanding of personal finances is a driver of individual and family well-being and contributes to the economic stability of the country overall. 

“The 2018/19 national CPA brand advertising campaign is designed to shift Canadians’ perceptions of CPAs away from the ‘pencil-pusher’ stereotype.”

CPA Canada is a dedicated promoter of financial literacy, and the topic is one that I am personally passionate about. Indeed, I am honoured to be a member of the National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy. CPA Canada’s internationally recognized and award-winning financial literacy program seeks to empower Canadians with no-cost in-person sessions, publications and other resources. What’s more, later this month, on Nov. 22 and 23, CPA Canada, in cooperation with CPA British Columbia, will present the Mastering Money Conference in Vancouver.

Our financial literacy program is helping Canadians make more informed financial decisions. This touches on the values associated with the Canadian ideal of good business: sustainable growth and social development going hand in hand.

Debunking the myth of the “boring” accountant is the theme of the 2018/19 national CPA brand advertising campaign. It is designed to shift Canadians’ perceptions of CPAs away from the “pencil-pusher” stereotype.  

Utilizing humour and a strong visual appeal, the campaign leverages television, billboards, social media and other channels to reinforce the message that CPAs are Canada’s pre-eminent accounting and business professionals—no matter what the business. 

The campaign shows the range of exciting roles that CPAs play in a variety of fields. It tested well in focus groups and, while it’s primarily aimed at this country’s business leaders, an important aspect is to strengthen the pride of Canadian CPAs in their designation.