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

Council agendas

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 body.

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 its members.

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 are
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.