London President: an exceptional year
With his last column for London Accountant as LSCA President, Nathan Steinberg summarises what has been a busy and somewhat surprising year in office.
It is not often that one is able to serve in such an exceptional period.
With 2019 seeing a year in which one in five members of the public did not trust the audit system, the theme for the period was restoration of trust in in the profession.
Activities from this year
Throughout the year, we have had many successful high-profile events. The first was an evening of networking at One Moorgate Place in June 2019 where Sir Mark Weinberg was the guest speaker. In the Autumn at the Pan Accountancy Lunch, Liz Murrell of the Investors Association gave insight into the IA’s views on Audit Reform. More recently, we have held our Budget breakfast at the Carlton Club.
As well as the above, we have continued a programme of regular events such as the Business Bitesize, Practice Radar and Younger Members’ London events. In this year, the LSCA CPD offering has also begun to gain more attendees and due to the crisis, we are offering a selection of CPD webinars at a reduced cost.
At the LSCA’s Main Committee meetings, we have focused on the overarching goal of restoring trust as well as considering other key issues. In the Autumn, the emphasis was on sustainability. After all, there will no need for accountants on a dead planet. We followed this with a briefing on the current position of ICAEW and the reputation of the profession. This was contributed to by key internal ICAEW stakeholders as well as David Matthews, the incoming ICAEW President, and Julia Penny, ICAEW Vice President Elect as contributors.
The end of 2019 was a crucial time for Audit Reform with the Brydon report being published in late December. As a result, the Main Committee was briefed and asked for comment. This discussion was led by Mark Rhys, of the Technical Strategy board, and Will Brooks, the ICAEW incoming Deputy President. This is a discussion that will evolve over the next year.
What does the future hold?
At the time of writing, London is virtually shut down, with most London accountants working remotely. Whilst is disappointing that the current crisis has effectively cut short my presidential year, there are far more important issues for London members.
We, as accountants, must be positive and assist our businesses and clients to survive the current crisis and get the capital back on its feet.
It has been a great honour to lead the London Society and I am certain that Vicky Andrew, the incoming President, will take an effective lead on behalf of local members.
Indeed, she has led by helping to organise an event, which converted to a webinar, celebrating the 100-year anniversary of Mary Harris-Smith being the first woman member admitted to membership.
The annual LSCA dinner which was due to be held on 28th May was going to start the celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of the formation of the London Society. Vicky will therefore be leading the Society for the Anniversary events, which has a certain Kismet in the anniversary year of the first woman member.
Once the crisis is over, the LSCA looks forward to inviting members to attend the various events that are planned in respect of these celebrations.
I would like to thank all the individuals who have worked tirelessly on a voluntary basis. Without contributions from these members, the LSCA would be unable to function effectively. In addition, we must thank the continued support from the ICAEW staff whose work behind the scenes keeps the LSCA wheels in motion.
The former LSCA Presidents, Helen Brennen, Steve Bryce and Samantha Russell have stood down this year from Main Committee and I would like to thank them for their years of service to LSCA. They will be missed.
Furthermore, Richard Joseph is retiring as Honorary Secretary and Justin Silverman is retiring as Honorary Treasurer. Both have served LSCA for many years in these offices and I similarly would like to thank them for their hard work. Fortunately, they will continue to serve on Main Committee so we will still benefit from their historic knowledge of LSCA.
As a final postscript to my term, I am pleased to see that lockdown is starting to end, with schools and shops opening, and we have already seen the Mayor adapt our transport system. Even the return of hairdressers is planned at the start of July.
Hopefully, London will soon get back to some form of normal. In the meantime, I urge everyone to remain positive and use their common sense over the next few months.
Over to Vicky.
Nathan Steinberg is the retiring President of the London Society of Chartered Accountants
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