The Australian accounting standards setting and financial reporting community has had no finer servant than the late Kenneth H Spencer AM. For more than a quarter of a century from 1978 he was actively engaged in the standard setting process both in Australia and increasingly on the international stage. In this role he was a member of the Foundation Board of Management of the Australian Accounting Research Foundation, a member of its CCA Standards Committee, a member and later chairman of the Australian Accounting Standards Board, a member of the International Accounting Standards Committee and the Australian representative and chairman of the G4+1 group of standard setters. In addition to these roles Ken Spencer was also accorded the distinction in being chosen as a Trustee of the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation when the International Accounting Standards Board was formed. In his contribution to the technical work of standard-setting, Ken Spencer demonstrated a commitment beyond that of most practitioners to expanding our understanding of the intellectual foundations of the accounting discipline. His strong commitment to the cause of standards development and setting was underpinned by a successful career in practice and as a company director spanning four decades. In this long period of service Ken Spencer rose to the level of managing partner in the Melbourne office of KPMG. Combined with his work as a practitioner and standard setter, Ken Spencer was also able to devote considerable time and energy to the accounting profession through service with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. He served in a range of official roles at state and national level. The demands of practice are all that stood between Ken and the highest office in the ICAA, National President. In recognition of this service the Institute bestowed a Meritorious Service Award. Such is the esteem in which Ken Spencer is held by the standard setting and financial reporting community that an annual lecture sponsored by KPMG and the Financial Reporting Council and the board room at the Australian Accounting Standards Board each bear his name. The final approbation of a long and distinguished contribution to accounting came with Ken being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division.
The Australian Accounting Hall of Fame honours Kenneth H Spencer as a practitioner, office holder and accounting standard-setter.
1937 - 2004
Ken Spencer was a career-long practitioner accountant who was intricately involved in the accounting standards setting process both in Australia and internationally. A forty year career as a chartered accountants with KPMG antecedent firms commenced in 1995 and culminated in his retirement forty years later in 1995.
In that long period of service he was invited into partnership in 1970 later rising to Managing Partner of the Melbourne of KPMG between 1984 and 1993. Ken Spencer also served on various national and international committees of the firm. A distinguished career in practice was appropriately complemented by an active and sustained contribution to the accounting standards setting process.
His initial flirtation with standards setting came as a member of the CCA Standards Committee between 1978 and 1981. This was followed by a stint as a member of the Australian Accounting Standards Board between 1981 and 1983. From 1983 to 1985 and again later between 1998 and 2000 Ken Spencer was a member of the International Accounting Standards Committee.
Chairmanship of the Australian Accounting Standards Board was conferred between 1995 and 1999. Around the same time, 1998-99, he was Chairman of the G4+1 group of leading standard-setters from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the IASC. From 2000 until his death in 2004 Ken Spencer continued his involvement with standard setting at the international level as a Trustee of the IASC Foundation.
Although much of his profession life was given over to standard setting issues, Ken Spencer was willing to contribute his time in the service of his professional accounting body the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. He served the Institute in a number of roles:
- Victorian State Council between 1976 and 1987
- Victorian State Chairman: 1982-83
- National Council: 1981-1987
- Executive Committee: 1982-83
- Treasurer: 1984-85
- Vice-President: 1985-86
- Deputy President: 1986-87. Ken Spencer declined presidency due to firm commitments.
A number of honours were bestowed on Ken Spencer including:
- Meritorious Service Award, Institute of Chartered Accountants, 1998
- Accountant of the Year, New Accountant, 1998
- Member of the Order of Australia, 2002, for services to the accountancy profession and to the establishment of international accounting standards
- Menzies Meszaros Medallion, posthumous, 2004.
Of particular note was the honour conferred by the Australian Accounting Standards Board in 2005. As a tribute to the contribution made by Ken Spencer to accounting standard setting the Board Room at the Standards Board bears his name. The naming was inaugurated by Sir David Tweedie, Chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board. Further recognition of his work in this area is perpetuated in the Ken Spencer Memorial Lecture that was established in 2006 under the joint sponsorship of the Financial Reporting Council and KPMG.
In his wider business life Ken Spencer held directorships with City Link Trust, GUD Holdings Ltd, Pacifica Group Ltd, Crown Ltd, CDK Tectonics Ltd. He also served as a Director of and Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Sir Robert Menzies Foundation Limited between 1998 and 2004.
The final accolade to a long and distinguished career in accounting and accounting standard setting came in 2002 when Ken Spencer was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia.