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Open and honest leaders for Brexit times

Whatever happens in these uncertain times, chartered accountants can lead the way as open, honest and trusted advisers, argues LSCA President Helen Brennan.

April 2019

By the time you read this column, the UK may have left the EU with no deal – the hardest of Brexits. Or perhaps Article 50 has been extended to allow parliament to legislate for the deal that was agreed in the final days of March. Perhaps Article 50 has been revoked. I don’t think I’ve ever written an article and been quite so unsure about the circumstances in which it will be read.

Whatever situation we find ourselves in, London will need its chartered accountants. Good quality, trustworthy, trusted audit and assurance are the foundations of sustainable economic growth, which will be the overall objective for the UK in the challenging geo-political climate ahead. At the same time, maintaining and improving a fair and efficient tax regime will be at the heart of the UK’s ability to raise revenue for public spending on infrastructure, training, economic diversification and investment in the regions.

Chartered accountants will be depended on:

  • in business: to develop systems, controls, measurement processes, reporting interfaces and assurance services that facilitate sustainable economic growth, that can be applied to both financial and non-financial capital, and promote a culture of inclusive, fair and responsible business;
  • in small practices: to support owner-managed businesses with digital transformation;
  • in large practices: to work to earn back the trust of the public and to rise to the challenge of changes in regulation and legislation; and 
  • in the public sector: to support teams facing demands for greater efficiency than ever.

Now is the time for chartered accountants, wherever they work and whatever their role, to lead the way with openness and authenticity. At times of uncertainty, to be open and honest in leadership is invaluable, because it builds trust and it wipes away suspicion.

Any leader can give instructions and have them followed, but only a trusted leader can inspire and empower a team. It’s more important than ever to be open about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, not just to build trust and empower teams but also to maintain our own focus when the horizon is constantly changing.

Helen Brennan is President of the London Society of Chartered Accountants.

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