With around 3,500 members in Wales, it hasn’t been possible to meet everyone yet but I want you to know that I am working hard on your behalf to make sure that the voice of Welsh business is heard loud and clear. From meetings with Welsh Government Ministers to regional seminars and discussions, I’ve been working with colleagues to raise the profile of key issues impacting our economy and the investment needed to drive long-term economic success.
An important part of this is our own PR and marketing so you’ll see that we are embarking on a programme of strategic media relations activity to build awareness and reinforce the role of chartered accountants as strong business leaders and trusted business advisers. Let’s get the message out there about how you, as members of ICAEW, are driving productivity improvements, competitiveness and innovation in your communities, as well as providing good jobs and enabling social mobility.
Indeed, in the first of a regular series of articles in Business News Wales, I talk about how the accountancy profession, as part of a wider professional and business services sector, can be the bedrock of a modern local economy, and can add value by measuring and monitoring the progress and success of levelling up.
Of course, levelling up means different things for different people and different regions of Wales. In theory, it’s about making sure that Government investment is spread more widely (and fairly) around the UK with the aim of improving prosperity for all.
Here at ICAEW, we have been working with local members and businesses to understand the key issues in relation to the levelling up agenda, what needs to be actioned for it to be achieved and what is missing. From these conversations, we know that there are some key themes that need addressing with skills, wages, transport and digital connectivity at the top of the agenda.
I recently met with Minister O’Brien as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Sue Gray, Cabinet Office Second Permanent Secretary of the UK. I stressed the importance of the feedback from our members and the need for both the Welsh and UK Governments to engage effectively and work collaboratively with local authorities and the private sector to drive change and maximise the opportunity to level up.
After all, levelling up shouldn’t be about politics or individual aspirations. It’s about doing the right thing and that means working together to find a way forward that works for all.
Doing the right thing is certainly my guiding principle as I lead ICAEW into a new era in Wales. I’m looking forward to working with you all and keeping you updated on all that I’m doing to make sure our collective voice is heard.