2020 was a test of resilience for the profession, for the community and for organisations including Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. No body such as ours could thoroughly prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic in advance, but rather many had to rely on the foundations that had already been built and the quality and agility of their team to respond. These strong footings and rapid adaption of our management and our people allowed us to continue and enhance our delivery for members.

For our education offering, this meant setting the high ambition to transition the CA Program to online for the first time while maintaining academic integrity and support. In six weeks, we delivered four modules remotely with an online format for every part, starting from workshops and classes to online exams with remote proctoring and marking. This involved over 600 facilitators and markers being upskilled, over 200 workshops held, and nine online invigilated exams for over 8,000 students across 10 countries. Quality was maintained with our post implementation review finding nearly 90 per cent of participants were satisfied with the online exam experience.

This effort was replicated across our professional development for members. Existing workshops, conferences and regional events were reconfigured with ultimately over 46,000 members attending 158 online events. This included weekly webinar sessions for members to hear directly from Government stakeholders and experts on how to tackle COVID-19 related challenges and new ways of working. We made over 25,000 knowledge products complimentary and ensured we were actually providing for and supporting members by making more than 6,400 proactive wellbeing and enrolment support calls. The consistent uptake of digital tools, guides and resources that members valued was also evident in our dedicated COVID-19 resources hub being accessed by over 42,000 unique visitors since its launch in March 2020.

And notwithstanding the turn of events during 2020, the organisation has made a surplus and continued to grow its membership base.

Our longstanding robust advocacy to Government, standard-setters and regulators coupled with our active contribution to the public debate ensured a strong voice at the table when it came to the creation and implementation of economic support measures. This established advocacy effort can be seen in our approach to tax reform in New Zealand plus our representation during the Australian parliamentary inquiry into audit regulation in late 2019. Our comprehensive 15-point plan on ways to enhance auditing saw the inclusion of several recommendations in the inquiry’s interim report and a plan tailored for New Zealand is currently being developed.

“We are committed to ensuring that we provide members with what they need and value so that the profession of the future is modelled on the best of the now.”
– Ainslie van Onselen, Chief Executive Officer

The tremendous support this professional body provides to members was one of the first details I noticed when I commenced my role this year. The input from members whether from the committed network of councils and committees, the member insights panel or the strategic review back in 2017, has informed a range of exceptional programmes and strategic initiatives.

As we continue to deliver on these, I am also keen to ensure that we deliver value across the entire member lifecycle, that our members are fit for the digital age and that the difference that Chartered Accountants make to transform businesses and communities is front and centre.

Given we are in the final year of our current strategy, a refresh is now underway with engagement across our entire membership base and governance structure to provide a roadmap for the next 3-5 years.

I have seen the tremendous impact members have made and continue to make during this time – described in the media as superheroes and by commentators as being at the fore of our economy – now more than ever. We are committed to ensuring that we provide members with what they need and value so that the profession of the future is modelled on the best of the now.

Ainslie van Onselen
Chief Executive Officer