In seven years, ICAEW will be 150 years old. When our founders started work on Chartered Accountants’ Hall in 1890, they had supreme confidence both in what they were trying to achieve and the role that accountants played within the economy and society in general.
We, as Chartered Accountants, provide quality information that you can put your trust in. We have responsibilities as professionals that we take seriously. When we face questions or issues that we’re unsure about, ICAEW provides us with a community and guidance to help us find the answers.
All of our members are responding to the cost of living and high inflation. This can undermine people’s confidence in decision-making about investments, recruitment and strategic plans. Changes to the tax system, the challenges that continue around imports and exports, and the whole regulatory regime are adding to that uncertainty. Most people in business want to see some stability. Without that stability, the Institute can help by gathering people and opinions together and sharing expectations for the economy.
We need to make sure that we continue to have confidence in what we do and that confidence is appropriately earned. As a profession, we’re about trust, so trust in the profession must be the absolute first of our strategic themes.
The focus for ICAEW this year is to look outward and put renewed focus on all the work we’re doing to support members, from their role in relation to sustainability, to the risks and opportunities created by new technology. It’s all about helping our members to figure out how they continue to deliver value and trust to the communities they serve in a way that reflects a changing world.
Attracting talent and diversity to the profession is also part of building that trust. It has been an area of focus over the past year and it will continue to be a priority. It is so important that the profession looks like the society that we serve. We have improved the gender balance, but we need to go further.
One of the first things I’m going to do as President is going to see ICAEW’s Rise programme in action. Rise helps children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds realise the capabilities that they have. I’m really looking forward to that; it’s a tangible example of how we’re making a difference.
Above all, we as professionals need to have pride in who we are. We have a highly respected qualification and an impeccable legacy. Every member I speak to, no matter their role or location, is really proud of what they’ve done and what the Institute enables.
As I start my tenure as ICAEW President, we’re going through a number of changes at the top of the Institute. A new Chair will help manage the Board and report the effectiveness of its oversight to Council and the wider membership. We will also see the introduction of a new Chief Executive, someone who will build on the great work that current CEO Michael Izza has done during his 17 years in the role.
The new Chief Executive, whoever they may be, will find a great brand with a strong financial position and more than 200,000 members and students. That’s a lot of people and a lot of reach. Our membership is making sure the economy stays on the rails, in many ways.
As for my part, I’m looking forward to speaking to members and stakeholders and gathering views on the work we’re doing and what they would like ICAEW to put more focus on. That engagement is a critical element of building and maintaining that trust and confidence, and it’s a matter of personal pride that the responsibility for this engagement rests on my shoulders for the next 12 months.
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