- CA ANZ member benefits partners work with many different departments of the organisation to provide data, expertise and complimentary member resources.
- Some recent examples have included forums on AI for young CAs, an accountant’s letter webinar, insurance checklists and webinars, and financial reporting conference sessions.
- The broader organisation needs to be able to access and engage with business partners, in order to extract the most value for its members.
Earlier this year, the SA/NT Young Chartered Accountants Panel passed on a request to regional manager Scott Jones: they were keen to learn more about AI, ChatGPT and what these technologies mean for accountants. Alex Peasland, head of strategic partnerships at CA ANZ, suggested engaging with member benefits partner MYOB. The accounting software provider is keen to connect with young CAs and support their career progression.
“MYOB had somebody who knew a lot about AI and ChatGPT, and was able to provide some really good examples to show the capabilities of AI, which was really valuable,” says Jones. “They were happy to hang around afterwards and go into a little bit more depth with some of the members’ questions as well, so that was awesome.”
The in-person event had an additional aim of wanting young people to feel comfortable and confident meeting in a face-to-face environment.
Explains Jones: “When we go out and visit firms, they tell us that younger members need to understand how to get out there, network and develop their personal brand. They’re really encouraging their young staff to go out and meet new people, and practise networking. Hopefully it’s a little bit less confronting when they are meeting their peers, and it prepares them for client engagements.” Mark Doorly, CA ANZ regional manager, Queensland, worked with MYOB discussing personal branding with young CAs.
“Three people came in and spoke to our members about building their personal brand,” he says. “Only one person out of three was employed by MYOB; they also brought in other expert speakers.
“Because the content was partly about networking, if you didn’t stick around and network you weren’t really putting anything to use. So, our breakfast event tied in really nicely and put concept into practice.”
From broadcast to conversation
MYOB’s forums with young CAs are just one example of how marketing and advertising has changed. Sixty years ago, the most likely way you might hear about a product or service was through a print advertisement. But nowadays, we have a wealth of product choice and information at our fingertips, on myriad channels.
If today’s consumers want information about a product, they can look it up themselves and see multiple customer reviews, user videos, comparisons and more.
It’s not only important for people to find the right product for their needs, brands have realised they need to build relationships with specific audiences, such as finance professionals or SMEs. They benefit from the correct alignment too – after all, your ideal customer will get the maximum use and value from your product or service, and is also most likely to sing its praises to others.
As pre-eminent marketing professors Philip Kotler and Alexander Chernev explain, to deliver true value to customers, a brand has to focus on helping people to make an informed decision and find their best match.
Consequently, many CA ANZ partners choose to do far more than just advertise their products and services in Acuity, or provide a simple discount to members. Their partnerships span research, events, education and more. And they play a vital role in providing information, tools and resources that help members do their jobs better.
Rules of engagement
Some partners work across the different accounting designations to ensure the entire profession is better educated. In August, accounting client management software specialist Ignition hosted a webinar to help accountants who were uncertain about the scope and obligations related to providing accountant’s letters, commonly required by banks. More than 2500 accountants registered for the webinar, highlighting the relevance of the topic.
“Our partners maintain strong ties with the profession, dedicating themselves to creating products and services tailored to address the actual challenges our members encounter,” says Peasland. “The fact that many of our key partner contacts are also chartered accountants is not a coincidence. This strategic decision is based on the insight of incorporating a CA’s perspective into the business’s product and service development efforts.
“Moreover, within our partner program, we have members who have spotted gaps in the market and developed inventive solutions to tackle real pain points, one example being Guy Pearson CA from Ignition.”
“The fact that many of our key partner contacts are also chartered accountants is not a coincidence.”
Public practice protection
At times, partners provide educational content. Australian CPP holders in particular will likely be familiar with one example: the professional indemnity insurance (PII) checklist. CCP holders are required to have a certain level of PII, depending on the value of the client engagement.
“Insurer Aon wanted to work together on materials to make members – particularly practitioners – more aware of PII and the risks of a claim,” says Gillian McCarthy, manager of Professional Standards at CA ANZ. “We also worked on an FAQ of common insurance terms, so members can understand a policy, plus we’ve done some webinars on the basics of insurance, as well as providing some interesting real-life examples.”
Focus on the future of the profession
Many of CA ANZ’s member benefits partners are software companies that offer practice management software, data analytics and other digital services. It’s a field CAs have to embrace to futureproof their careers – and it can help them perform their roles better, too. Access to real-time financials and insights reports set up businesses for more informed decision-making, which is particularly critical in our current economic climate.
Phocas Software is a mid-market business planning and analytics solution, so the team was well placed to develop resources to help CAs get up to speed on accounting tech. It developed a series of webinars on analytics, budgeting, forecasting and financial statements, including one presented at the May 2023 Accounting Conference titled ‘The future of analytics and financial reporting’. The webinars are accredited for continuing professional development (CPD) hours, confirming their educational value to members.
Finding a match
Image credit: Henrik Sorensen
Doorly says that he’s aware many members of the profession are time poor and are looking for solutions to help them work more efficiently and comply with red tape. “The content and resources that some of our partners are putting in front of them can help members to streamline aspects of their business that they haven’t otherwise thought about,” he says.
“When we work with partners, we sense-check what they are offering. I might speak to my most engaged members on panels and committees, and spend 10 minutes with them every second month to confirm that partner products, services, content and resources are relevant.”
So, is it ultimately still all about the sell? “We need to ensure that, with all our partnerships, there is a true value exchange between the partner and member,” Peasland says. “No one wants a hard product push. Instead, we work with these businesses to empower our members to make well-informed choices and decisions. That’s why we request that all our partners offer complimentary tools and resources accessible through the partner pages.”
Visit the CA ANZ website to find some of the resources developed in collaboration with CA ANZ’s partners.
PII webinars: visit store.charteredaccountantsanz.com for complimentary member access to the AON PII webinars, which also count towards your verifiable CPD.
Phocas data-driven modelling and forecasting webinar