Opinion
2 May 2019 12:11pm

Bonding across borders

Whatever the outcome of current discussions over Brexit, the bonds between accountants across borders will remain strong, says Paul Aplin

On 21 March I was in Brussels to chair a meeting of ICAEW contact members from across Europe. I started my day, as I generally do, with a walk. Given the timing – Theresa May was due to arrive for talks on extending the date on which the UK would leave the EU – it seemed appropriate to walk in the direction of the European Parliament.

As I passed the flags of the current EU nations, it was impossible not to be conscious that this was a day on which decisions would be taken that could affect the lives of many millions of people for many years to come. A little later I joined my colleagues for our meeting. Our Europe region covers both EU and non-EU nations.

Our contact members form a vital link with ICAEW members in those countries, whether they are in business or practice, still working or retired. Contact members receive no remuneration: they provide their time and enthusiasm because they are passionate about ICAEW. We spent the day discussing member and stakeholder engagement, communications, trust in the profession, the impact of digital technology and – inevitably – the impact of Brexit. Periodically we checked on the latest news from the EU meeting.

After completing our packed agenda (with many questions answered and ideas captured) we adjourned for dinner to continue our conversations in a less formal setting. Our guest of honour was Jens Røder, an ICAEW chartered accountant from Denmark who has held a number of very senior positions – including president of Accountancy Europe, president of the Danish Institute of Auditors and secretary general of the Nordic Federation of Public Accountants – all on top of his career within PwC.

Other guests included the European Commission’s Erik van der Plaats and Saskia Slomp from the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group. The next morning, I caught the 07:56 Eurostar to London. The BBC carried details of the agreement reached overnight between the UK and EU.

As the train sped through the Belgian and French countryside, I reflected on the events of the last day: engaging with fellow ICAEW members from across Europe, discussing the challenges and opportunities we face, meeting one of the most respected figures in our profession. Inevitably I also reflected on the relationship between the UK and the EU.

Whatever happens (and whenever it happens), two things at least are certain: first, the high-speed rail link between London and Brussels will still join us physically; and second, the fellowship and shared commitment to the highest standards of professionalism of our members across Europe – and the wider world – will remain as strong as ever.

Whatever the future relationship between the UK and EU may be, ICAEW will remain committed to our friends and colleagues across Europe and beyond. Some things may be different, but the essentials that define us and bind us, both as a profession and as an institute, will endure.

Events

7 May, AML And Practice Regulation Update
This half-day seminar explains the new regulatory requirements and provides an insight, based on feedback from ICAEW inspectors, on topical issues in complying with the rules. It is likely to cover, among others: updates to the anti-money laundering regulations and the Bribery Act; IT, and data protection (including GDPR) and avoidance of cybercrime. Milton Keynes

8 May, Healthcare Conference 2019

The annual, one-day conference is designed for professionals who want to stay ahead of the latest changes in the healthcare sector. London

9 May, Supercharge Your Sleep
Sleep is not a luxury or something we can “catch up on”; it is a physical and mental necessity. This workshop, aimed at ICAEW members up to 10 years’ post-qualified, will suggest a range of ideas and activities to help promote the quality of sleep. Bristol

16 May, SME Conference 2019: Fundamentals For Business Growth

Political uncertainty and volatile business confidence create a challenging economic environment. This one-day conference will offer guidance on how to survive and thrive, with an emphasis on robust financial controls, prudent application of accounting standards and tax rules. London

23 May, Building Trust In A Digital World
The banking crisis, the changing nature of the high street, and business failures such as Carillion mean that trust and confidence is undermined. How do we rebuild and retain trust in an increasingly remote relationship driven by technology? A panel of experts, including ICAEW’s director of business and industrial strategy Iain Wright, will discuss how the finance sector can rebuild and retain trust. Manchester

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