Gavin Loudfoot CA: ICAS President's Apprentice
Gavin Loudfoot CA was announced as the winner of the 2017 ICAS President’s Apprentice, at the CA Scotland Dinner on Friday night.
Gavin, a Private Equity Associate with Simmons & Company, Energy Specialists of Piper Jaffray, was chosen from an exceptional pool of entrants as the CA with the brightest vision for the ICAS of the future.
Entrants for the prestigious competition were asked to outline the changes they would make to ensure that ICAS remains relevant to future generations of CAs.
ICAS President Sir Brian Souter personally chose Gavin’s entry, noting that his honesty and insights on how ICAS can best serve its current and future members made him a clear winner.
He said: "I’m delighted to have received so many insightful and interesting entries in this year’s ICAS President’s Apprentice initiative. I’ve certainly been provided with a good overview of ways ICAS can ensure it remains relevant to future generations.
“Gavin’s entry stood out for the honesty in his suggestions on how ICAS can better serve him, as well as other members in his area and wider afield. I am looking forward to working with Gavin over the coming months.”
Gavin will now have the opportunity to learn directly from Sir Brian, and gain life-changing insights, advice, and guidance on how to really make an impact in the world of business and accountancy.
I graduated from Strathclyde in Accountancy and Finance and was always keen to progress to a professional qualification, some of my friends would label this part of my unhealthy obsession with academia. I chose the CA because of ICAS’ reputation not just in the UK but globally, and completed my traineeship at PwC in Glasgow.
Upon qualification, I moved to Simmons & Company in Aberdeen to pursue my interest in Corporate Finance - I think the oil price was still over $100 a barrel at the time.
After a stint in the Corporate Finance department I moved into the Private Equity Fund, where I have been for almost two years now and I'm really enjoying the challenge. I believe there is great opportunity to invest in the energy sector going forward given the recent positive momentum we have witnessed in the market.
What am I most looking forward to about this opportunity?
As a member of ICAS, previously an auditor of Stagecoach, and currently an investment professional myself, I’m keen to get ‘inside the tent’ within ICAS, Stagecoach and Souter Investments, all three aspects of Sir Brian Souter’s business affairs hold a key interest to me. I’m also excited to learn from one of the most influential businessmen in Scottish history.
Further, not to do Sir Brian a disservice but I’ve always wanted to meet Sir Richard Branson, and a dinner at Stirling Castle sounds like the perfect opportunity!
What made me apply?
Initially the attractive opportunities on offer were what got me interested in applying. Though after exploring the idea as well as canvassing my fellow CAs, it got me thinking about what could be done to improve the relevancy of ICAS and I am now keen to get more involved and drive engagement within the ICAS community.
I’m delighted to be named the inaugural ICAS President’s Apprentice and would recommend others to apply for this great opportunity next year.
Gavin’s vision for the ICAS of the future
To have a vision for what an ICAS of the future might look like, we must keep at the forefront of our minds what CAs look to get out of their membership. I believe the primary factors are to be connected to fellow professionals and to be kept updated on key issues of the industry. Therefore, in order to ensure ICAS remains relevant, we must make sure that these factors are maintained and enhanced in the future.
I’m based in Aberdeen, which admittedly may not be as bonnie as the Institute’s home town, but it does have a great network of CAs. I believe this network is currently underutilised, particularly outside of practice where there is a wealth of knowledge from CAs who have gone on to do great things, however have unfortunately become more distanced from the Institute than their counterparts within accounting firms.
When I ask for feedback from fellow CAs on what they get out of their membership, I’m afraid to say many feel they are not receiving great value. I believe this is a product of being based outwith both practice and the main centric of the Institute. With that being said, I do not think these CAs are blameless in the lack of value being derived from membership as it is a two way street – you can only expect to obtain greater value from greater participation.
So I invite them to ask not what your Institute can do for you, ask what you can do for your Institute.
It is clear to me what needs to be done to evolve the relevance of ICAS, and that is to further stimulate the engagement of all members, but in particular the ones within the regions and outwith practice where I think the issue is more exacerbated. I do not believe that these members are unwilling to be more engaged, but rather it is more an issue of accessibility and incitement.
My solution is therefore to implement ‘regional champions’ to lead ICAS initiatives in the regions and encourage engagement from all members. I imagine this champion to be a trainee or recently qualified, volunteer CA looking to get more involved in the ICAS network. This engagement would come in the form of more regular, informal events and discussions. These could be arranged in offices, coffee shops or bars where members can meet like-minded CAs and discuss topical issues, or perhaps just socialise with a greater pool of CAs than just those within their own firm.
I know it is a modern cliché, one which I wish I could avoid suggesting, but I think an app could facilitate a lot of what I am putting forward here. I recognise that ICAS publishes some great articles on the website, sends daily emails and has the CA Today blog, but this needs to become more mobile and accessible – read convenient for the busy CA. An app could be used to organise events and read articles and blogs, where members could comment and converse, or even drop a note to the author to arrange a meeting to discuss the topic further. The champion’s responsibility would be at a local level to encourage CAs from all corners of the industry to pen articles as well as arrange regular meet ups, some of which could include authors speaking or just appearing for a chat.
I believe ICAS has a bright future and provides life-long value to its members. I feel my suggestion is not an attempt to revolutionise the Institute, but rather offer an enhancement by stimulating engagement, especially from the currently less engaged members of the CA network where there is a wealth of knowledge which I believe is currently underutilised. I believe by increasing participation in the regions, the entire ICAS community would become more coalescent and prominent, making the CA moniker all the more valuable and attracting even more of the brightest minds to our industry.