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It's not (just) what you know...

Author: Paul Aplin

Published: 15 Feb 2019

You have heard the expression: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters in life. While what you know matters a great deal – the rigour of our qualifications proves how strongly we believe that at ICAEW - my experience is that contacts and connections matter a great deal too. I was reminded of this on my recent visit to Cyprus.

In the space of 48 hours, our Head of Cyprus and Greece, Christiana Diola, and I had meetings with government officials, diplomats, academics, colleagues from other professional bodies, and ICAEW members. We discussed the digitalisation of tax administration and other tax-related matters with the Cyprus Tax Commissioner, current developments in the audit market with the Accountant General and Deputy Accountant General, and subsequently with the Auditor General, of Cyprus. Over lunch with the British Deputy High Commissioner and UK Trade Representative, the discussion centred on the impact of Brexit on our profession and on trade.

We also met with both the President and General Manager of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC) to discuss the Kingman, CMA and Sikka reviews, and the impact of Brexit on the ACA (a discussion that our colleagues from ICPAC continued in London with Michael Izza the following week).

In addition, we visited the University of Cyprus to discuss ACA training, met with partners from large audit firms, attended a members’ reception and welcomed over 130 new ACAs to ICAEW at our graduation ceremony.

It was an incredibly busy two days.

On the flight back to London and in the days since, the thing I have reflected on most is the access we have as an institute to senior officials, influencers and decision-makers. This doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because day in, day out we have a great ICAEW team in Cyprus: without Christiana and Maria these meetings would not have happened. Our contact member in Cyprus, Evgenios Evgeniou, and our Cyprus Council member, George Kourris, also play key roles in keeping ICAEW members connected with the institute and with each other, maintaining our sense of community.

And of course, it is not just in Cyprus that this happens, but across every region in which we are active around the world. Having high-level contacts who want to engage with us and hear our views is vital if we are to have influence and fulfil our public interest obligations. Maintaining these contacts requires constant, patient and largely unseen work.

Key individuals engage with us because of the vast range of insight and expertise that our 151,000 members around the world have: because, if you like, of what we know. They also engage, as I have found time and time again over the years, because they trust us to speak in the public interest.

So yes, who you know is important, but you only get access to the most influential people if you can bring something unique to the table. And that, as I saw again in Cyprus, is something ICAEW excels at.