Jim Pettigrew: Analyse the present, look to the future

Jim Pettigrew
By Jim Pettigrew, ICAS President

17 July 2015

Jim Pettigrew shares his mission to build on past work and do what's right for ICAS today.

"A President's hardest task is not to do what's right, but to know what's right".

That was Lyndon B Johnson's sage observation as he strove to lead the United States after the assassination of John F Kennedy.

As president of ICAS, I am acutely aware of the need to know what's right... for the Institute. At my first Council meeting, we took time to consider the strategy and future ofICAS. Having many of the best business brains in Britain around the Council table to analyse the present and look to the future made that task a great deal easier.

Our conclusion is that our current strategy of" Building Professional Community" remains relevant and fit for purpose.

We need to refocus, however, the way we deliver that strategy, because of quite profound (and positive) changes in our membership.

  • There has been a 25 per cent growth in members in business in the past five years.
  • CAs in industry now make up 65 per cent of the total membership.
  • There has been a 78 per cent increase in female members in the past 10 years.
  • Members based outside the UK will soon make up one in five of the total.
  • Members under 35 are now the largest age segment. In response to these changes we must become more global, more virtual and more diverse.

The changing mix of our membership was underlined when the Council joined more than 200 CAs in the Palace of Westminster for a reception.

There before us was the new ICAS. The wise old friends who have been loyal to ICAS for many years joined by a new generation of vibrant, global­ minded, digital-thinking CAs.

We must become more global, more virtual and more diverse...for the ongoing transformation of the Institute

Next up for me after the Council meeting were member events in my home town of Dundee and in Perth - the heartlands of many of our CA firms.

Then I found myself back in the City of London for a breakfast with the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House.

That was an opportunity to highlight the substantial contribution CAs have made to the the City, which in recent years has been the greatest economic success story that this country has known since the Industrial Revolution.

Now is the time to drive the City forward by ensuring we have the right skills; a competitive and simplified tax system; the right balance in regulation; the very best technology and digital innovation; and the right connections with Europe and the developing markets of Asia, Africa and South America.

Big thinking was also at the centre of a panel debate at Westminster where I joined The Times columnist and blogger Tim Montgomerie and the CEO of SSE pie, Alistair Phillips-Davies, to consider how to create "A Good Corporation" in a climate of lack of trust in big business.

Next stops in the presidental motorcade are our Scottish Parliamentary reception and a members' event in the Scottish Borders. On my travels, I get a feeling of a great momentum around our efforts to increase engagement and reconnect CAs with ICAS, which I hope we can keep building over the coming months and beyond.

I have been pleased to champion two initiatives that we are launching this year. One Young World is the pre-eminent global forum for young leaders and is being held in Bangkok in November. ICAS intends to send 'One Young CA' to mix with world leaders represent ICAS on this global stage.

We are also launching an ICAS conference, "Leading Today, Leading Tomorrow", aimed at the full range of our membership from newly qualifieds to company directors. It is being held in Glasgow on 27 November.

Sessions announced so far include Nick Hewer, formerly of The Apprentice; our vice-president and a leading entrepreneur Sir Brian Souter; KPMG will explain how the technology of Formula One is revolutionising audit; and we'll hear from Nev Wilshire from the BBC's docu-soap The Call Centre.

More key speakers will be announced shortly. Both initiatives are direct results of our strategy refresh. Please lend them your enthusiastic support.


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