Ainslie van Onselen details how Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand has equipped members to lead the way for businesses and communities. 

Chartered Accountants ANZ is a trustee for our members, helping them invest in themselves, their businesses and their communities. From educating the talent of the future, supporting our members to live their values through high ethical standards or providing services to make a difference in the communities in which they live, it is the members monies that we manage, not our own. Members put a high degree of trust in the governance and management of Chartered Accountants ANZ to effect these purposes and to advocate for the public good on their behalf. 

By enacting our purpose, executing our long-term strategy, being cost efficient with our members dues and advocating on important issues such as inclusion and diversity, the gender pay gap in our profession and supporting the need for a single global standard on climate and sustainability disclosures, we will create enduring value for our members. 

The impact of the pandemic on members and our broader society has taken a huge toll, from mental and financial distress all the way through to lives lost. It has also transformed the way we learn, work and provide services to our members. I would like to recognise those members who have experienced hardship during this time and know we are here to support you and understand the importance of being well, to do well. 

“The response to the pandemic by the accounting profession as a whole was described to me by one member as ‘our finest hour’ and it is that sentiment I wish to encapsulate in this report. That even during such a challenging time, accountants stood up and led the way.” 
– Ainslie van Onselen, CEO

The response to the pandemic by the accounting profession as a whole was described to me by one member as ‘our finest hour’ and it is that sentiment I wish to encapsulate in this report. That even during such a challenging time, accountants stood up and led the way. Throughout the year, members have guided, supported and advised businesses and communities. We, in turn, were committed to supporting you through online resources, training fit for the digital age, wellbeing support, advocating for policy changes and connecting you to a global network. Over 124,000 people attended the 731 member events we held this year. And to your communities we showcased how Chartered Accountants can add value to business through our inaugural Difference Makers brand campaign which achieved 27.5m impressions, including reaching over 4.4m influential business decision makers. 

Members’ feedback into policy shaping and implementation has meant well-timed and at times robust advocacy and a strong voice at the virtual table during the economic response to the pandemic. For instance, our advocacy in respect to the war for talent experienced by the profession saw the Australian Government place accounting and audit professionals on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List in June 2021. 

Akin to an iceberg, our members often see only a fraction of what the advocacy team do behind-the-scenes to guide and achieve policy outcomes, with over 200 policy submissions submitted to government and regulators this year alone. As for the tip of that iceberg, once measures are announced, the team have responded with the rapid rollout of our complimentary Sharing Knowledge webinars which thousands of our members tuned in for at an unprecedented level. 

While this was initially a reactive resource initiated by the onset of the pandemic, we have now embedded these sessions into our service offering to provide timely, relevant information on an even playing field, not bound by geographic limitations. Other tools that we have developed such as CA Capability+ also provides a responsive online platform, allowing over 4,000 members to date to assess their professional development trajectory. 

Given we accelerated many initiatives that were already underway such as the online transition of the CA Program (including delivering over 30,000 online exams), we were in good stead to continue its evolution and launch our reimagined CA Program in mid-2021. This new CA Program continues to meet the standards required of us as the only professional accounting body in Australia approved as a Higher Education Provider by TEQSA. 

While the designation is synonymous with traditions of ethics, expertise and true professionalism, we are committed to ensuring it is also steeped in the future and harnessing the best of technology in a continually evolving and digitally led world. 

Our new five-year strategy, which engaged our membership base across all segments and our governance structure, and which has at its core the aspiration of world class member experience, also takes into consideration the current global context and macro trends such as increasing expectations of experiences on digital platforms and technological disruption. Foundational to this has been the segmentation and personas mapping of our members that we have developed in this reporting period, as we now look in FY2022 to develop a 360 degree view of our members and digital experience platform. 

This year we have also been setting in place a solid foundation to build our future-focused strategy. This included developing best practice governance, IT network and telephony infrastructure upgrades, driving efficiencies such as a hybrid model of online and in person events and overall cost containment. We also developed quarterly themes to align our resources and increase the impact of our advocacy. This included an exclusive online member event during our reset theme with the Australian Federal Treasurer and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance that was attended by 4,000 members. 

We continue to build a larger and more inclusive profession, where difference makers from all walks of life can find a common purpose in the public good. For the first time in our history we now have over 130,000 members and more students than ever are signing up to our world class CA Program. We are building inclusion and diversity strategies for our people and our members as well as taking an educative approach to the gender pay gap that has been revealed through member surveys in the past and again this year. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we are determined to address this as an organisation and a profession, working alongside you every step of the way. 

As we consider the strategy and the extensive path ahead to realise our vision, we find confidence in having the people, the skills and the ambition to deliver for our members every day. Onwards. 

Ainslie van Onselen