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Council elections are coming – here’s what you need to know

The 2019 Council Elections take place early next year, with applications for nomination now open, we take a look at the key dates and what’s involved

The origins of the ICAEW Council can be traced back to 1870, and those involved have been helping shape not just the Institute, but the profession, ever since.

About the Council

Today’s Council is made up of 125 members, representing the depth and breadth of membership. Up to 85 places on Council are held by representatives elected from geographical constituencies, including Scotland.

Council members are responsible for ensuring that the ICAEW meets the objectives set out in the Charter, participate in discussions on high-level strategy and have the power to stand for office and elect future office holders. Elected Council members not only play their part in this, but also – where possible – represent the views of members in their constituency.

It’s an important time for the Institute, our members and the profession overall, with issues such as audit hitting the headlines, as such there’s a real need to make sure that our qualification is seen as robust and relevant as we move forward.

In early 2019, elections for new Council members will take place in many constituencies across the UK, including Leicestershire & Northamptonshire, where there is one seat – currently held by incumbent Roger Merchant.

Key dates

The online application system for the upcoming Council Elections opened on 20 November – and any member who was resident in Scotland by the qualifying date (17 October 2018) is eligible to put themselves forward as a potential candidate. The closing date for nominations is 20 December (at noon).

Voting papers will be issued on 5 February with voting closing at noon on 25 February 2019.

A chat with Hilary

We spoke to Hilary Lindsay who has been the Council Representative for the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire constituency, to find out more about what’s involved in the role.

How long have you been a Council Member?

I first joined Council in 2002 for a one year term when my predecessor had to step down early, then was re-elected for four year terms in 2003, 2007 and 2011. In 2014 I was elected by Council as the ICAEW Vice President and have been an ex officio member of Council since then, having been President in 2016-17. I step down from Council next June.

What made you decide to get involved?

I was just finishing my term as ICAEW Leicestershire & Northamptonshire President when the vacancy came up in 2002. Quite simply I failed to persuade anyone else to stand for election and ended up standing myself.

I’d worked at ICAEW until 1999 so was passionate about the Institute and was so keen to get across to members all the fantastic things it did. This was a further way I could contribute.

What does being a Council Representative involve?

The essence of the role is to be the link between our members and the office holders and executive in London. There are four Council meetings a year at Moorgate Place, plus 2 day annual conference in July – that’s been near Windsor for the last two years but has been at various locations in the past.

The meetings are only part of the story as there is a lot of activity in committees and by email throughout the year – these are great opportunities to network with fellow Council members from all over the UK, and the world.

When I was on Council I attended most of the ICAEW Leicestershire & Northamptonshire committee meetings and this was one of my main links with local members, but I also tried to attend as many other ICAEW events in the Midlands as I was able to. Meeting as many local members as possible was a key part of the role.

What’s been your proudest moment on Council?

The biggest single one has to be being elected as Vice President in 2014 and then going on to be President in 2016-17. That was an enormous privilege and an amazing opportunity to seek to make a difference.

The Council of membership is now far more diverse than when I joined. I feel it is vital that it is representative of our membership and we now have far more women members and members from outside the UK. To be truly representative we still need more members from business and more members under 45.

What’s a typical meeting like?

Council has around 90 members and usually around two-thirds will be there in person with others joining via video links. About 25 ICAEW employees will also be there. At the moment, meetings are held in the Great Hall at Moorgate Place and most of us sit at round tables, cabaret style, with the officeholders and chief executive on the stage at the front. Meetings start at 9am and we usually have about 20 agenda items (the meeting packs, sent out in advance electronically or in hard copy, contain all the relevant information – these are generally about 150 to 200 pages long, but can be longer on occasion).

The topics under discussion vary, but there are a few standing items, including the Chief Executive’s strategic update, latest accounts and forecasts, and the minutes of ICAEW Board meetings. Although we have a Board it is Council which is the ultimate governing body of our Institute. Other agenda items may either be for discussion, debate or decision, depending on the maturity of the topic. For example, in one meeting we might have an open discussion on possible ideas for modernising the faculty structure; in the next meeting we would have a debate on detailed proposals; and in a third meeting we would put the final decision to a vote. Some issues inevitably will need to move faster than this.

Why does being part of it matter?

It’s very important for a member from our area to be part of Council to ensure that our members’ views are heard and our members’ needs are considered. Similarly, our Council member is a key element in making sure that our local members are kept informed of developments in our Institute and are able to share best practice with members elsewhere.

When a new member joins Council they receive a formal induction. On an ongoing basis Council members also tend to meet up the evening before each Council meeting, so it won’t take long before new members to Council are in a position to contribute.

Why should people get involved?

The ICAEW Council needs passionate, committed members ready to bring their day-to-day experiences, and those of their local members, to bear in helping the Institute deal with the challenges of today and plan for the challenges of tomorrow. It’s the Council members’ real-life experiences in their ‘day jobs’ that are so valuable in informing our Institute’s strategy.

From the individual’s perspective, being on Council is, of course, a huge honour which will mean you meet fascinating people, enjoy valuable networking opportunities and ensure you are better informed about all the issues facing our profession. Those of us on Council would agree that the more you put into something the more you get out of it.