ICAS CEO, Bruce Cartwright CA: Our new strategy
The new strategy will keep ICAS strong and relevant to the future of the profession, says CEO Bruce Cartwright CA
I recently spoke with one of our alumnae, Afua Kyei CA, now CFO for the Bank of England. You can read our conversation here. One of the many things she said that struck a chord with me was when she talked about the Bank of England’s purpose – its raison d’etre. That stayed with me, not just because it was interesting, but because setting out one’s purpose is what underpins ICAS 2030, which was unveiled at our recent AGM.
This strategy document is a living, breathing approach to what ICAS will be focusing on for the remainder of the decade, and beyond. Behind it, there’s also a clear business plan built around who we are, what we want to do, and how we’re going to do it, backed up by the resources to deliver on that plan (as you might expect from a professional body of CAs).
Whatever our job, we all want to understand why we’re giving up our most precious commodity – our time. So what is our purpose? We uphold ethics and we cultivate trust – and have done since 1854. I say “cultivate” deliberately because trust is something any profession has to earn. It takes years to achieve and can be lost overnight. There is a saying that integrity is what you do when no one is looking. Through the ICAS qualification, we are giving CAs the tools to go wherever they choose to work – whether in terms of sector or locality – and have a positive impact. Indeed, our vision is to empower trusted professionals to create a better tomorrow.
Once the purpose is clearly understood and you’ve set out your vision, you can define your strategy and how you intend to deliver it. We want ICAS to be recognised as a force for good. As I have said in a previous column, the world is a smaller place, ICAS has no innate right to exist. We have to earn the right to teach the next generations of CAs.
To that end, we are now a digital-first organisation. This means allowing all students to learn digitally, though we expect this to be supplemented by face-to face teaching. This will become more visible when we roll out our new student experience in September. We know that a strong digital presence enables us to take what we’re good at and adapt it for the modern world. We are also putting sustainability at our core, leading on key issues in this space within the profession and embedding them across our learning (including within the new syllabus being launched in 2024), training and operations.
We will continue to help shape the future of regulation so that it assists both firms and individuals. Member services are also integral to what we do, because we want to support our members through their professional life and provide them with the skills and knowledge to become better CAs.
Each member looks at ICAS differently and will need us at different points in their life, depending on what path their career has taken. For me, the biggest value in the membership is the network; that instant link with a community of fellow professionals with the ability to help each other. I see this as a professional obligation. When a fellow CA needs some technical advice, or is perhaps grappling with an ethical issue, that is where the membership is at its most powerful. I would challenge all members to seek out opportunities to enhance the standing of the profession.
We also have a new visual identity, which has been very well received. You don’t often get the chance to work on launching with a new strategy, so to see it now coming to life makes it a very exciting time for ICAS.
The AGM also delivered the news that Clive Bellingham CA has been elected as the new ICAS President, with Alison Cornwell CA becoming our new Deputy President and Karen Scholes CA our new Vice-President. Each brings something slightly different to the role in terms of their personality, and we have certainly got into the habit of treating the office bearers as a team.
So, while you have a President of the moment, you also have two other office bearers in the chain, all buying into the 2030 strategy and all working together to make progress in delivering on the plan. As well as this, it’s Clive’s role to represent ICAS on the public stage, meet members and feed back from the frontline to the rest of the organisation.
The backgrounds of our three office bearers are very complementary – Clive has extensive experience of working within the Big Four, Alison has been at the forefront of industry, and Karen knows what it’s like to run a practice, with all the entrepreneurship and flexibility that requires. The three of them have hugely valuable, varied experience to bring to the table and work with the executive, but it's also important that they constructively challenge us. I’m looking forward to what our office bearers and the executive can achieve together.
Read more about ICAS strategy 2030