From Normandy Beaches to the pinnacle of our profession

Prof David Flint celebration header
By Bruce Cartwright, ICAS Executive Director, Technical Policy

25 May 2017

Last week we noted with great sadness the passing of a leading light in the Accountancy profession.

Professor David Flint was, during his lifetime, a leading practitioner in Scotland, a senior figure in the life of the Institute and ultimately one of Scotland’s leading academics.

He was in all ways a long-serving loyal member of the ICAS family and we should reflect and celebrate his lifetime contribution to the profession.

A war hero and revered academic

Having started his CA apprenticeship in Glasgow in 1939 he received his Territorial call up papers 10 days later. During the ensuing war, he landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944 (D Day) and participated throughout the European Campaign.

Professor Flint’s subsequent post-war career as a partner in practice, various roles within ICAS culminating in his appointment as President of ICAS in 1975 and his leading role in the academic arena are brought to life vividly in an interview published by ICAS in 2005, Giving an Account. Life Histories of Four CAs.

While reflecting on his own career highs he referred in the interview with pride to the publication of the work,  Philosophy and the Principles of Auditing and his paper published by ICAS in 1982 A True and Fair View in Company Accounts; his appointment to the Johnstone Smith Chair of Accountancy at the University of Glasgow in 1964 where he brought to life his belief that an academic education was part of the prospective accountants journey; and the “rewarding experience” in carrying out his role as ICAS President.

Setting the bar on ethics

Thirty-five years after the publication of A True and Fair View his words remain as relevant today:

“Prescription by legislative requirements and professional statements of standards of practice are necessary in the interests of good order and effective communication. If these are soundly based and well-conceived they should be widely applicable but the requirement to give a true and fair view” is a standard of a higher order.

Whatever may be the extent of prescription, an overriding requirement to give “a true and fair view” is, at the lowest level of its utility, a safety valve protecting users from bias, inadequacy or deficiency in the rules; a fail-safe device for the unavoidable shortcomings of prescription.

However, its greater utility is in establishing an enduring conceptual standard for disclosure in accounting and reporting to ensure that there is always relevant disclosure – where necessary beyond the prescription – based on independent professional judgement.

It has a social quality expressing the standard of accountability which society sets in company affairs in the context of a societal perception of truth and fairness which is ultimately a matter of ethics or morality.

While the italics are mine the words belong to Professor Flint. A leading light in our profession and a life we truly celebrate.


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