One of the decisions I took when I became president of ICAEW was that I wanted to meet as many members as possible – and that includes the 16% of the membership who live and work overseas.
I wanted to know how you feel about the profession, your qualification and your relationship with ICAEW, and what more we could and should be doing for you. Although we are an international organisation based in London, I am aware it is all too easy to get caught up in domestic issues, especially at the moment with the Brexit negotiations, and I want to make sure that all of you, wherever you are based in the world, feel valued and important to us.
So since June, as well as visiting members around the UK, I have spent time travelling on ICAEW’s behalf to a number of countries overseas – Ireland, Cyprus, Hong Kong and China, Australia and New Zealand, the US, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore and Malaysia – meeting members and students and canvassing your opinions, good and bad. And it has been both instructive and useful. I have met large numbers of impressive and interesting people working in widely diverse sectors and jobs and brought back a raft of messages and suggestions for the team at Chartered Accountants’ Hall to act on.
What have I learned? That you are immensely proud of the ACA qualification but feel that ICAEW needs to do more globally to promote what sets our chartered accountancy qualification apart from other accountancy brands. It’s a message that chimes with members in the US who would like to see the ICAEW qualification recognised by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) so they don’t have to pass virtually all the exams again if they want to work there.
I also discovered that there are opportunities for ICAEW-trained chartered accountants in the US, particularly working in corporate finance in the Big Four, because of the quality of our training (email me if you are interested).
Throughout my visits, I encountered a strong sense of community among ICAEW members and found that you enjoy meeting up through ICAEW’s network of city groups. Two new groups are now being set up in Christchurch and Canberra. But I am aware you do feel detached from ICAEW and would welcome more contact, support and better communications from London.
I have more visits overseas planned and I hope to meet many more of you. I want to hear more of your views and, while ICAEW can’t promise to change anything overnight, the intelligence we build will inform our ongoing strategic policies.