Julia Irvine 7 Jun 2018 10:01am

Incoming ICAEW president hits the ground running

Incoming ICAEW president Paul Aplin may have only been in situ for 24 hours but he has already thrown down a challenge to his fellow chartered accountants – asking them to help 10 young people access the profession

In a speech at his inaugural lunch yesterday, Aplin, who is a tax partner in Somerset-based firm A C Mole, said he had chosen social mobility as a major theme for the coming year.

“I want to see more young people – especially those who think, or have been allowed to think it isn’t for them – have the chance that I’ve had and discover the ACA as the key to unlocking a great career that can change their lives too, and help them in turn change the lives of others,” he said.

“I want us to probe the barriers too many still perceive as blocking their path to the professions.”

He pointed to research from the London School of Economics, which looked at the impact on subsequent attainment of being one mark under and one mark over a C grade in GCSE English.

“Having failed my 11-plus, that resonated with me: failure in one exam may just be a blip and when we recruit, we should have that in mind. I was lucky but it shouldn’t be down to luck.

“We need to recruit the best. Irrespective of background. Irrespective of school. Irrespective of everything except talent, potential and attitude.”

The aim, he said, is to reinforce “a strong, diverse profession, one that believes in the importance of enterprise guided by knowledge and prudence manufacture and commerce directed by experience, finance directed by accuracy and probity – one that is forward-thinking and outward-looking, willing to listen and adapt – a profession that provides the bedrock for a world of strong economies”.

Aplin revealed that the first of the 10 young people has already been helped to access the profession, with sponsorship from the ICAEW Foundation. Khadija from Ghana worked on a building site carrying buckets of cement before the Foundation supported her to study accountancy through university: she has now graduated with a 2.1.

“The Foundation changed her life,” Aplin said. “Now she can change other lives.”

Aplin qualified in 1985 and joined the committee of the ICAEW Tax Faculty in 2001. Over the past 17 years, he has served as its chairman and chair of its technical committee.

He sits on HMRC’s Administrative Burdens Advisory Board and in 2009 was awarded an OBE in the birthday honours list for public service and services to the accountancy profession.

During his presidential year, he will also focus on digital technology and a connected global community.