In recent years, chartered accountancy bodies around the world have been meeting to explore how we can build bonds and connections across the chartered accountancy fraternity and promote the vital role we play throughout the global economy.
In 2011, we set up Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW), initially comprising the six chartered accountancy institutes from Australia, England and Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and South Africa, with the principal aim of ensuring that chartered accountants, whichever jurisdiction they work in, are recognised as operating to the highest technical and ethical standards. After all, unless we pay some interest and nurture the brand, no one else will. In the past eight years we have developed into one of the largest groupings of accountancy professional bodies in the world, whose membership not only covers the British Isles, but also Africa, Asia and Asia Pacific.
Our latest – and 14th – member, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi, came on board at the end of February at our meeting of CAW chief executives in New York, bringing the combined number of chartered accountant members and students we represent to approximately 1.8 million based in more than 190 countries.
During that time, we have taken action to create opportunities globally for young people seeking to become or develop as chartered accountants, and for those businesses that are interested in training or employing them. We have also looked to share knowhow and best practice among the bodies to maintain the pre-eminent position of our qualification as the first choice for those in accountancy, finance and business. Interestingly, some of the most creative and innovative suggestions have come from those professional bodies not encumbered by age and tradition.
We have convened global discussions and debates under the banner of “conversations around the world”, hosting events in major international markets and bringing together senior participants from business and finance and representatives from tomorrow’s generation of leaders. Each year, we also send a group of young future leaders from our different member bodies to the annual One Young World Summit.
There they meet other talented young people from different sectors and countries and they have the opportunity to mix with influential political, business and humanitarian leaders, like Paul Polman and Meghan Markle, and collaborate on ways of creating a better world. Why am I telling you all this? Well, it would not surprise me, even if you have already heard mention of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, that you are not really aware of who we are or what we do. But I am hoping to change all that over the next couple of years. I have recently been appointed as chairman of CAW and I intend to use my time as chairman to build on the good work done by my predecessors and put the grouping more firmly on the global map and in our members’ minds.
We have some exciting projects in the pipeline. For instance, at the recent meeting in New York, we agreed in principle to launch at some stage this year a new “global identifier” or descriptor that members will be able to use to indicate that they are part of this larger community. It is not a qualification but it will be restricted to members of those bodies who are part of Chartered Accountants Worldwide. You will hear more about this in due course.
We are also exploring ways of working together in jurisdictions that are not our home markets and where we have as yet little or no presence. A classic example would be in the US where for years the chartered accountancy qualification was not generally recognised, much to the frustration of many of our members and to their support network, the Association of Chartered Accountants in the US (ACAUS). That is beginning to change and several chartered accountancy bodies have individually negotiated mutual recognition agreements with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Our next chief executives’ meeting will take place in Dubai in June when we will have more information about the global identifier to pass on. We will also bring together members of all the CAW bodies based in the United Arab Emirates and Dubai to debate the future of trust.