Date posted: 17/12/2019 5 min read

Blaze your own trail

Stephen Walker FCA has finished his tenure as Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand President for 2019.

In Brief

  • Stephen Walker FCA has finished serving as the 2019 president of CA ANZ.
  • Walker believes ethical leadership and instilling trust is important for the accounting profession.
  • His priorities as president included highlighting the work of members in the public sector and not-for-profit sector.

It has been an honour and privilege to serve you as the president of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand in 2019. I’m fortunate to have spent the past year engaging with members who work every day to make a difference. Whether it’s helping rural clients facing financial struggles or lending their expertise to the local community in their free time, chartered accountants truly are the backbone and partner of many businesses.

Each CA ANZ president brings a set of personal priorities to the role. During my tenure, I focused on a core foundation principle that accountants can use to navigate our way through the constantly changing business landscape – ethical leadership.

As a profession, we cannot sit back and take our ethical foundation for granted. Earlier this year, CA ANZ released its The Future of Trust thought leadership paper, which found that accountants are among the most trusted professionals in Australia and New Zealand behind doctors, engineers and teachers.

As CAs, the trust we have built with our clients and our communities is our calling card, and ethics is fundamental to how we maintain this trust. Like any other skill, we must continue to nurture it and actively practise it. We need to make sure our ethical compass always faces true north.

This is also the approach CA ANZ is taking with its education and continuous learning offering. The new talent joining the profession needs to enter the workforce with a diverse skillset, ready to adapt to the range of roles they will undertake in their career.

We are actively working to ensure that the CA Program reflects the breadth of sectors that our members work in, so the content is relevant and valuable for all.

Another of my priorities as president has been to bring to the forefront the respected work of our members employed in the public sector and not-for-profit sector. These sectors are driven by a purpose broader than profit and, as a public servant myself, the career opportunities and the difference you can make are limitless.

I have also concentrated on connecting our members so we can leverage our collective intelligence – My CA, CA Catalyst and Mentor Exchange are just a few examples. This input from members has driven the direction not only of CA ANZ, but also the work we do in the advocacy space.

Audit, specifically, is an area that is facing increasing scrutiny globally, with the Brydon Review in the UK and parliamentary inquiries at home. CA ANZ is focused on being part of the evolution of audit, so that it continues to meet community expectations and serves the public interest.

New chartered accountants are given not only a certificate, but a social licence to operate. They are granted the ongoing trust of their clients, organisations and communities, and that must be preserved.

“New chartered accountants are given not only a certificate, but a social licence to operate. They are granted the ongoing trust of their clients… and that must be preserved.”
Stephen Walker FCA

I have watched many members use their social licence to make profound changes and become trailblazers. In my final column as president, I urge you all to blaze your own trail, using your ethical foundation as your starting block.