CASSL a Year in Review
Anne-Marie Asenso reviews her time as chair of the Charted Accountant Student Society London (CASSL) discussing the challenges and surprising benefits of adapting to the pandemic.
As my time as chair on the Chartered Accountant Student Society London, affectionately known as CASSL, has come to a close, I would like to take the opportunity to do ‘a year in review’. Like many organisations the pandemic meant the committee had to adapt. At the core of our activities was our mission statement, to improve the technical ability, career progression, and social, physical and mental wellbeing of the community of student Chartered Accountants in London. As a group could not follow on from our predecessors and looked for new ways of working.
We began the year by holding the first ever online AGM in May. Prior to the AGM there had been a decline in interest for roles on the committee with only 3 applicants. As Secretary, with the help of the ICAEW, I embarked on a wide campaign to promote the committee to London members. Over 60 people attended an ‘introduction to the committee’ event. The size of the committee grew to its maximum of 20, which included 17 new directors, 16 of whom had never attended a meeting prior to the election. After a successful online social event led by our new Secretary, Tim Reilly, the committee hit the ground running.
The most popular event we hold, the Case event, changed to online along with every other event held in the year. The change to online events led us to reach out to new sponsors who could also adapt with us at short notice. The Case event was more successful than ever with almost 1000 attendees across October and July. The move to online expanded the capacity beyond the usual maximum 400 that could be held in person.
Our commitment to technical ability and career progression included sharing our new sponsors across the country with other societies who also had to adapt. CASSL continued to pioneer as a Society, reaching out to the ICAEW which led to a series of events to cover the changes to the ACA for 2021 sittings. Online events will continue to be a stronghold of our focus on technical ability and career progression as it provides more accessibility.
Football, netball, and the annual ball are events that we are known for. This year we could not hold any of these. However, after the suggestion of new Director Benedict Currie, we continued our commitment to physical and mental wellbeing by introducing bi-weekly yoga events. This is the first series of events CASSL has held averaging 20 attendees at each session.
During the year a profit of £8,117 (2019: Profit of £965), this was due to the pandemic leading to lower costs as we held events online. We were also able to source sponsors who provided events at no cost, as well as using ESF for our yoga events. Further information can be found in our financial statements on Companies House.
A key focus of mine & Rozalie’s (Vice Chair) this year was to build stability within the committee as we adapted to the ever-changing environment of the pandemic and to ensure continued interest in the Society. I am proud to say we far exceeded all our expectations. Our event turnout more than doubled from prior year. The committee made a conscious effort in our commitment to diversity highlighting LGBT+ History month on our socials and through our articles published in the London Accountant. With our Treasurer Matt Coote’s oversight, a new sponsorship pack was developed by our Sponsorship leads. This has led to funding discussions with an array of businesses as we personalised our proposals whilst using the pack. Led by Vice Chair, Rozalie Boyle, and Director, Olivia Carling, a mentor scheme has been set up focussed on new joiners in smaller firms. At the time of writing, almost 100 individuals have signed up.
CASSL has been able to use the events of 2020 to regroup and establish new ways of working with different responsibilities, but the same focus. Going into the 2021 AGM we created role leads to focus the interests of the society to better enable the engagement of all members. The 2020/2021 Committee has never met physically which makes me even more proud of all that we have achieved virtually. The future committee has a lot of weight to carry as we venture into the new normal, but I am certain that this committee has provided them with the tools to achieve it.