It was a huge honour to become ACCA’s president in November 2018. As my year has flown past, I have had the privilege to meet and talk to many members, students, employers and our other key stakeholders. Two things have become very apparent to me. First, we are living in a time of unprecedented change and challenge for the accountancy profession. Second, ACCA’s values – accountability, diversity, integrity, innovation and opportunity – have never resonated more strongly around the world.

 

Our values matter. The work ACCA has completed during 2018-19, on behalf of members, students and other stakeholders, has been firmly grounded in these core values. In particular, they underpin ACCA’s responses to the prioritised material issues detailed in this report.

 

As highlighted on our Members material issues, our members cite the top three material issues for ACCA as the relevance and integrity of the ACCA Qualification, ACCA’s brand recognition, and statutory recognition and licence to operate. Public influence and thought leadership, and ACCA’s global presence have also been ranked more highly this year, as we see challenge to the role of the profession and digital transformation pressures increase. Contrary to the current global geo-political trends towards protectionism, it is refreshing that our members and stakeholders recognise that both insight and influence are enhanced with a global mind-set.

 

Our strategy and our targets, created by the Executive team with Council, give ACCA a strong framework for sustainable growth. The results, explained by Helen Brand in this report, demonstrate how we distinguish ourselves from other professional bodies.

 

 

Our difference – reach, relevance and resources

In times of change and challenge, Our Difference – that is maintaining ACCA’s unique combination of reach, relevance and resources – becomes even more important. These are not just words in a strategy document but come to life around the world where the ACCA community makes an impact.

One of the most striking demonstrations of ACCA’s reach was at the World Congress of Accountants in Sydney in 2018. Held every four years, it is affectionately known as the Olympics of the accountancy profession, and it was here that our brand reputation and influence took centre stage

Reach

In a world that is only just truly recognising the value inherent in networks, our ACCA community of 219,000 members and 527,000 students in 179 countries is already delivering value. It maximises the employability of our members, facilitates talent mobility, and assists employers to secure the finance professionals they need. Our community has both quantity and quality. It is both gratifying and awe-inspiring to attend business conferences, only to become aware that our fellows and members are not just in the audience but centre stage setting the agenda and leading the debate on issues from wellbeing in the finance function to the ethical aspects of robotic process automation.

One of the most striking demonstrations of ACCA’s reach was at the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) in Sydney in November 2018. Held every four years, it is affectionately known as the Olympics of the accountancy profession, and it was here that our brand reputation and influence took centre stage.

Themed Global Challenges. Global Leaders, WCOA was an important platform for ACCA and for the global profession, coming at a time when accountants and finance professionals remain in the spotlight. It was an honour to meet with so many ACCA members from around the world, to connect with our strategic alliance partners CA ANZ, and to formalise a number of partnerships including signing MoUs with Xero and also the Vietnam Association of Certified Public Accountants. I recall the Congress with fond memories. For me, it was a packed agenda of side meetings with accountancy bodies from around the globe, investigating opportunities for collaboration with ACCA.

 

Relevance

For our members to maximise their influence and earning potential, and for our students to be work-ready, there is an on-going challenge to stay relevant. As the pace of change increases, so does this challenge. ACCA recognises we need to support their on-going learning journey. I am proud that ACCA’s perceptive research programme continues to help us all to ‘think ahead’. From the future of audit to emotional intelligence in a digital age, the reports launched over 2018-19 helped us to start discussions that define the future. Most importantly, I know this research and insight is not produced for academic gratification but is actually being used to help solve problems and strategies. It is being used across the whole financial spectrum; from governments seeking to develop fairer tax legislation to sole practitioners migrating to cloud-based systems.

This thought leadership also ensures that our gold-standard qualification remains future-focused. A landmark for the ACCA Qualification came in October 2018, when we announced the first results for the new Strategic Professional exams, which were created following extensive research into the skills that are needed for professional accountants of the future.

 

Resources

To continue to execute our ambitious strategy to develop the accountancy profession the world needs requires resource. Our determination to seize opportunities demands investment. So in 2018-19, ACCA continued to invest in its digital future and in the ACCA Qualification. This investment continues into 2019-20, but always with cost-consciousness in mind. However, when meeting stakeholders, it is clear that one of our key differentiators is the delivery of a global strategy with a local market presence. Our resource allows us to invest in fantastic market-based ACCA teams. I would like to thank them for their wonderful work and, in particular, their support during my attendance at market-based member events and key stakeholder meetings.

I hope you enjoy reading this integrated report for what proved to be a year of leading on the global stage for ACCA. Quite rightly, planning never stops. At the time of writing, we are busy creating a new strategy to 2025. I look forward to working with the Executive team and my Council colleagues on defining our exciting future prospects together.

Robert Stenhouse FCCA, President