ICAS’ Members Board commits to engagement
The relationship with the CA community is a key priority for ICAS. As Bruce Pritchard CA, Chair of the Members Board, put it: “Ultimately, we are a membership body, and therefore the members should be at the heart of everything we do.”
The Members Board is taking on an enhanced role at the heart of ICAS. This is part of a renewed focus on member engagement, one of the three key themes for ICAS President Mike McKeon in 2019/20 and an important part of ICAS’s strategy overall, as set out in the ICAS Corporate Plan for 2020-2023.
This year Sarah Speirs has been appointed as Executive Director – Member Engagement and Communications, with a remit to further develop the relationship between ICAS and its membership.
Bruce Pritchard CA became Chair in September last year. He said: “The Members Board is now able to be more proactively involved in thinking about how ICAS could engage better with its members, and that’s what we’re doing now.”
The purpose of the Board
The remit of the Members Board is:
- To monitor delivery of the strategy, such as is relevant to the work of the Members Board.
- To provide advice on any matters affecting its interests.
- To consider all aspects of the way ICAS engages with its Members.
- To act in the interests of ICAS, its members and firms, as well as the public interest in general. It also seeks to engage members in its work so far as possible.
The Members Board also has an oversight role of the Area Networks, the local committees of ICAS members across the UK and in international communities in more than 20 locations around the world. The Area Networks act as a link between ICAS and its members, supporting the delivery of ICAS’s business plan and strategy.
The Members Board has identified eight priority areas for action:
- Area Networks
- The member value proposition
- Prospective students
- The subscription model
- Customer experience
- Professional development
- Insights and key performance indicators
- Student engagement.
These topics were arrived at following a thorough listening exercise, carried out by ICAS to get to the heart of what really matters to its members.
For the Members Board, the first two questions to be tackled have been how to define the “member value proposition” and how to ensure the maximum effectiveness of the ICAS Area Networks. The member value proposition articulates the value ICAS provides for its individual members and informs the Institute’s member-support strategy. It is the basis for the “four pillars” of that strategy:
- Connect and help to succeed
- Public trust and “big voice”
- Innovate for the future
- A customer-centric organisation.
Bruce Pritchard stresses: “We have to remember that each member wants different things from their Institute. The days of ‘one size fits all’ are gone.
“The ICAS team are working on a number of initiatives to see how we can work towards better personalised service offerings from the Institute. So we’ve already rolled out the new-look icas.com, the ICAS app is coming and there are other things in the pipeline.
“Over time we will be able to tailor content more specifically to a member’s requirements, and we’re working with Sarah Speirs to ensure that the interactions between members and ICAS are dealt with more effectively and that ICAS becomes more agile in order to meet, and exceed, the expectations of its members.
“We’re looking to make the membership offering fit for purpose, and fit for the environment that we all live and work in. Everything else in our lives is more and more tailored, and more and more personalised, and our professional body should be no different.”
From Stirling to Sydney
This means, Pritchard emphasises, that: “ICAS should be just as accessible to a member in Sydney as it is to a member in Stirling.”
He adds: “More digital channels are opening up, but we still have further to go to ensure that every member of ICAS, regardless of where they are located, feels they have an excellent level of access, an excellent level of benefit and an excellent level of connection.”
The other initial priority for the Members Board has been looking at ways to further support the ICAS Area Networks and integrate them more fully into the ICAS governance structure.
The Area Networks play an important role in engagement at local level. Pritchard says: “In a global organisation, you cannot conceivably expect one single office to be able to understand the needs and desires of all the individual geographies. The Area Networks represent a conduit through which we can deliver core ICAS messages to members, but more importantly, the networks can listen to the members in their area and feed that back to ICAS.”
The ICAS Area Networks will each have a representative on the Members Board and there will be a twice-yearly forum for Area Network representatives.
In its new format, the Members Board will also ensure that the views of CA students are represented, with two places for student members.
Bruce Pritchard says: “The CA student population and the prospective student population are the lifeblood of this Institute, and while – of course – we will focus on delivering value for all our members, we need to ensure that we are doing more to engage earlier with our students and prospective students. We are just at the start of this process, as a board, and we are totally driven by the needs of our members.”
As ICAS Chief Executive Bruce Cartwright puts it: “I hope our members and students will recognise that there is a great deal of innovative thinking happening at ICAS – they should expect no less. At the same time as we develop and personalise new services and initiatives, we also recognise that we need to ‘up our game’ in terms of existing service levels to members and firms.”