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We’re in this together

In her first column as LSCA President, Helen Brennan calls on chartered accountants from practice, business and the public sector to support each other as tomorrow is set to be even more interesting than today

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Helen Brennan

August 2018

When I decided that the theme for my year as President of the London Society of Chartered Accountants would be ‘Thriving in interesting times’, I couldn’t have guessed that I would be writing my first president’s opinion for London Accountant on the same day that Boris Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary, only one day after David Davis resigned as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. If times were interesting before yesterday, they look likely to be even more interesting tomorrow!

I continue to believe that, as chartered accountants, we can aim for more than survival over the next year. ICAEW has the potential to play a significant part in this, with the role of the London Society being to facilitate meaningful engagement between individual chartered accountants who live and work in London.

That engagement can be with the ICAEW organisation, but it can also be directly with each other, as fellow chartered accountants. Either way, though, it must serve a purpose and provide real value to the member.

It’s easy to slip into using ‘bums on seats’ as the only measure of whether individuals are engaged with their professional body. It can, however, result in an organisation that is inward-looking, focused on maintaining or increasing attendance at events solely to justify keeping on doing the things we have always done, regardless of the actual value of those activities.

Instead, we should start by asking how chartered accountants benefit from associating with each other. Can we share knowledge of theory and best practice? Can we stand up for each other, and for the profession as a whole when it’s right to do so? Can we encourage each other by example and by recognition to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct, including independence and objectivity? Can we look out for each other’s health and well-being?

I believe that together, we do all these things and more. We can support each other and the communities we serve. The measure of our success as a district society will be not only whether we can bring people together, but whether those encounters leave each of us feeling supported and empowered in our professional lives, whether in practice, in business or in the public sector. That is why ICAEW and the London Society came to exist in the first place and, in my view, why both have endured.

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

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