You may well be aware that over the past year or so, we have been evolving the ICAEW brand and working out which characteristics best sum up what our institute stands for. As part of the project, we spent a lot of time debating the meaning and scope of various words that we thought might work. Eventually we managed to distil our thoughts into three values, which we see as being very much the core of our DNA as an institute. All three – insight, initiative and integrity – profoundly influence the way we think and practise.
We may be applying those values to ICAEW, but they are also relevant for ICAEW Chartered Accountants. All of us can bring insight to any role we are carrying out, which means we are acquiring and applying our unique knowledge and skills and using what we have learned to make a difference. Similarly, each member can bring initiative to any situation. As a concept, this is all about identifying needs and looking for solutions; it’s very much a proactive approach that involves experimentation, and exploring and engaging with other people and trying to work out how we can add value.
The third value is integrity and quite simply we, as chartered accountants, bring integrity to everything that we do. It’s about taking ownership and doing the right thing. It’s about acting responsibly and it’s about standing up for your views when challenged.
These values not only chime on a professional level but a personal one as well. Back in 2004, the International Federation of Accountants introduced a requirement that professional accountancy bodies should establish continuing professional development (CPD) schemes and foster a commitment among their members to lifelong learning. Personal development is an area that I have always been interested in and when, shortly after the IFAC announcement, I went back to the Open University to do a doctorate, I chose to carry out research into CPD and lifelong learning. This led me to conclude that the secret to lifelong learning is adaptability, and that to succeed you need to be proactive.
That’s why the three ICAEW values are so apposite. The insight is about knowledge and skills, the initiative is about behaviour, the integrity is about values, and together they cover all the bases around people’s learning. But in each case, there’s also a proactive element – the insight is about applying the knowledge and skills, the initiative is about looking for solutions, and the integrity is about doing the right thing. This makes them a really powerful combination, which gives us our DNA and provides us with the mindset we need for the future.
So if you bring insight, initiative and integrity to anything you are doing, not only will you be developing yourself, but you will be making a real difference to any activity you are involved in.
Hilary Lindsay is ICAEW president