Date posted: 1/12/2016 4 min read

Lee White, Helen Brand on CA ANZ, ACCA alliance

Helen Brand, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) chief executive, and Lee White FCA, chief executive officer of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), explain the new strategic alliance, announced in July

In brief

  • This new strategic alliance is about expanding the opportunities for our members and future professional accountants, ensuring they have the right skills and insight to make a difference and be a truly valuable business partner
  • The key is “relevance”. Members need to be relevant to their clients and in the way they operate within businesses. And we need to ensure we remain relevant to them
  • The other element is the global network to support members and prospective members, wherever they are in the world

By Peter Williams

Why have ACCA and CA ANZ formed a strategic alliance?

Helen Brand (HB): The alliance between ACCA and CA ANZ is about putting the organisations side by side so we can deliver tangible and meaningful value to our members. That is very much our collective focus.

Why now?

Lee White (LW): This move has business at its heart. It is about expanding the opportunities for our members and future professional accountants, ensuring they have the right skills and insight to make a difference and be a truly valuable business partner.

Business is affected by drivers such as globalisation, facilitated in significant part by technology. Where the business is physically located is less important to customers and suppliers. So businesses need to rethink their relevance to their customers, and we as professional bodies need to rethink our relevance to our members. They are right at the heart of business. If business is affected, so is the way our members operate. It is incumbent on leaders of the profession to ask: “What do we need to do to remain relevant and deliver maximum value for our members?”

HB: That wider context informed the creation of the alliance. It is about how we can do things better, how we can innovate, how we can disrupt the environment so we have a stronger proposition on behalf of current and future members.

How will members benefit?

HB: There are huge benefits from bringing together two brands that are very strong in their own right. The alliance may come as a surprise because people can see the successful paths both bodies are already on. It’s about combining our strengths for the benefit of members. Ultimately, our members have to be delivering value to their clients or employers, by bringing the best skills and insights.

We know these challenges are increasing — and that they are increasingly global. ACCA recently published Professional accountants — the future, which takes a long-term look at the capabilities accounting professionals will need to deliver.

Together we are more likely to address those broader and deeper skills expected of our members.

LW: The key is “relevance”. Members need to be relevant to their clients and in the way they operate within businesses. And we need to ensure we remain relevant to them.

Straight away there will be a boost to both brands, and we will bring together our thought leadership and advocacy to provide a stronger voice on behalf of our combined 308,000 members and 480,000 students around the world.

The influence members can expect comes not only through our combined size but from the thinking that this will produce. And we are also very excited about the educational and CPD offerings of both organisations.

HB: The other element is the global network to support members and prospective members, wherever they are in the world.

…we as professional bodies need to rethink our relevance to our members. They are right at the heart of business.
Lee White FCA, chief executive officer of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)

What does the alliance mean in practice for members?

HB: It will allow for dual membership, with pathways for both sets of members. We have dual members already — for ACCA members living and working in Australia and New Zealand, for instance, there is an attraction in also being a member of the national body.

We are both looking at what we have that will be of direct interest and benefit to both sets of members, such as CPD, technical and policy work. By doing this jointly we will deliver a richer, more impactful offering and a whole raft of new support.

LW: The initial piece is sharing, where it makes sense to do so, which will quickly provide momentum for further exploration of how we can work together for the benefit of members. We are being careful not to rush. A natural pace will energise our teams to deliver even better value.

How did the alliance happen?

LW: It was a natural coming together rather than one body approaching the other. It starts with a common set of values and adherence to ethics in our value propositions. Connectivity through values allows for a foundation discussion over what this alliance can be.

HB: It has been clear over recent years that Lee and I share a passion for the global profession, both our organisations being actively outward-looking. Our shared history of the Royal Chartered status resonates very strongly with members across the world, coupled with a very forward-looking ethos.

What are the challenges?

LW: The excitement among the teams as to what can be delivered is great, but that has to be balanced against ensuring that we have the right processes and systems in place to support those deliverables.

HB: Keeping the focus going is going to be really important. But the excitement generated among our teams and our members is good motivation.

How will you work together?

HB: You get used to late evening and early morning calls. But we work well together because a tremendous amount of trust and admiration has already been built up at executive level, among our governance leaders and across our teams.

LW: I have been Helen’s early morning alarm call. It’s early days still and there will be challenges, but those challenges will be dealt with given that the trust is there.

Peter Williams is an accountant and journalist.

For more information 

Watch the two chief executives on video on the Acuity iPad app, or online at charteredaccountantsanz.com/ACCA-alliance See Professional accountants — the future at accaglobal.com/thefuture

This article was first published in the September 2016 issue of Acuity magazine.