ACCA COUNCIL IGNORES MEMBERS' PLEA FOR OPENNESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
ACCA council continues to ignore members' concerns about openness and accountability.
It is difficult to think of even one corporate governance change that it
has introduced without external pressure. Most members see little point
in voting or attending AGMs as their concerns are ignored and questions are
not answered. Council members just sit there as dummies whilst presidents
give their speech, usually written for them by the bureaucrats.
For the May 2003 AGM, concerned members again raised their concerns. Once
again, the unelected leadership was deaf to their concerns. It opposed any
need for change. Yet in few years, it would need to embrace the same change
and like all dictatorial regimes it will present it as a great triumph. Here
for the public record, we reproduce the words spoken by one of the instigators
of the resolutions asking for change. This is not only a historical record
but an antidote to the 'spin' of the unelected ACCA leadership and controllers.
Any other business
In its response to this motion Council states that the issues with and which
the Association has to deal with are complex, wide-ranging, and it is inappropriate
for matters to be raised without notice.
We appreciate that they are made to matters are so complex and wide-ranging
but in the fast-moving world in which we now live is essential that members
can bring to the attention of a meeting matters which they consider to be
of material importance. We are professionals who should be up to deal with
matters without notice. Our training is such that the challenges of dealing
with complex questions on fly should be second nature and as such we should
and must relish the challenge and not shy away from it.
We are now in a fast-moving world were events happened at such speed that
we need to be able to respond promptly, many of these matters cannot wait
for the next meeting which could be up to a year away. We have, as can be
seen last year, businesses which are failed overnight, had taken other business
is with them and have had a significant impact on the profession and its
standing in the world. Events such as these which have had such a serious
effect on the profession standing need to be discussed by members of the
earliest opportunity and they cannot wait to year.
In his presentation to members of the 2002 AGM but then President made great
play on the failure of Enron. Technically, at present, members under the
current rules would not have been allowed to discuss this at the AGM following
the failure. The timing of the Enron failure was such that no member could
have got a resolution filed within the timescale.
As mentioned in our presentation when researching this matter we found other
bodies and in particular what we would quote CIMA do include any other business
in their agendas and one should ask if they can do it why can't we? Or are
we admitting that CIMA members are better trained to meet the challenges
of items that are raised under any other business.
Should we not also ask why it is Council so concerned about that has been
bought the attention of meetings under any other business, it may not be
that decisions can be made about matters being discussed but at least members
are fully aware of what is going on and have a chance to discuss the repercussions.
We therefore believe that is essential that in future any other business
must be included to ensure this events occurring between the publishing and
agenda and a meeting can be discussed there are especially if they could
to have a serious impact on the Association its members or most important
the public which we serve.
Subscription increases supported by a fully costed Budget
Council's response to this resolution is that the association has a large
and complex organisation operating in a competitive environment
We would suggest that the association is a major professional body, it is
by no means large in commercial terms and it is not operating in a commercial
environment. In fact one must ask the question with whom we competing?
We should not be looking at competition as key to our strategy. We are a
professional body incorporated by Royal Charter charged with the advancing
of the science of accountancy in fact there is nothing within a charter that
suggests we have any competitors or that we are a commercial organisation.
Council's response states but it is elected to act as trustee for the members
and we would point out that directors act as trustee for the shareholders.
Last year the then President believed that there was a need for directors
to provide more information to members. The publishing of the budget by the
association to substantiate an increase in subscriptions would decide demonstrate
that the Association is practising what it preaches.
Trustees owe a greater degree of accountability to the membership for their
actions than directors do to their shareholders it is therefore essential
that trustees ensure that they keep members fully informed of their future
actions and in particular the financial implications of their proposals.
In fact failed to do so would in the light of the Association's recent pronouncements
on disclosures and corporate governance tarnish to the Association's reputation.
We also raised the question how do council know that it needs additional
subscriptions if it has not prepared a budget but that fundamental
question was not answered or even addressed in Council's response. This suggests
that it does not know and is asking for an increased as a matter of course
not as a matter of necessity. Not the action one would expect from professional
In a statement we also question Council's defence against this motion of
commercial and competitive confidentiality again Council has not provided
a response? As a body incorporated under Royal Charter we need to show
that we're above this secretive approach and that we provide members with
proper information to enable them to make a considered judgment on the proposals
to increase subscriptions.
In its response council says it sets out various points about the future
therefore one should question why it is so difficult to publish a simple
budget for financial professionals who deal in numbers not words
This resolution is to enable members to have input into the operation of
the Association at an earlier stage. We do not believe that responding
to reports of meetings where matters have already been discussed, considered,
and even decided upon the right point for members to be included in the process
it - is too late.
The input needs to be made at the discussion stage therefore it is essential
that members should be aware of what is to be considered and what actions
will be taken in the name. There should be nothing secret within the Association
because as a professional body charged with the advancing of the science
of accountancy openness and disclosure should be a matter of course.
Council in its response makes reference to open Council meetings but these
are not related to matters with which many members need to have input and
of course are not available to those members overseas. We fail to see why
confidentiality would be compromised if the agenda was published and again
in their argument so Council suggests we are in a competitive environment.
We are not and to do so reduces the Association standing as a professional
Council also makes reference to the culture of innovation and this can only
be greatly enhanced by members having input at an early stage and this would
be demonstrated that the Associations recognition of the strength to
Amendments to by law 46
We are pleased that Council considers that a single date for resolutions
is the right way forward however we feel that extending the deadline is inappropriate
in the current environment. It will mean that matters which have come to
importance to members will take longer to be brought before their attention.
Council's proposal extends the minimum lead time from just over eight weeks
to nearly 15 weeks which will mean that in real terms the maximum rate time
for a resolution will be some 18 months before the AGM this is totally unacceptable
in a world where matters move at such speed that hour's matter not days.
As a professional body who has preached in recent months the need for shorter
deadlines and in particular we would quote the support for reduced filing
deadline for limited company accounts it seems inappropriate that the Council
should be seeking to extend the deadlines for the Association's own affairs.
We believe that eight weeks in the current environment is more than adequate
to enable the secretary to get resolutions out to members to meet the notice
deadlines. In fact we believe Council should be looking towards reducing
the lead time between the notice of a resolution being given and the meeting
occurring. This would then demonstrate that we as a professional body
practising what we preach.
Resolutions requiring 20 signatures can take some time to obtain especially
in areas where members can live and work hundreds if not thousands of miles
apart. We believe the Council's resolution to extend the time
for notice will in fact mean that members who wish to bring a resolution
before the AGM will potentially have to start up to two years before the
meeting date to enable them to get the necessary signatures to the resolution
and arange filing. In the current environment this is totally unacceptable
and for a professional body with the Association status totally inappropriate.
This is again another matter where we should be seen to be leading by example
and showing that we are an open and democratic body empowered by a membership
who are prepared to participate.