In writing this report, I am cognisant of the fact that the year 2020 requires no context setting, whether now or in history. As the domino effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ripple through communities, businesses and the profession more broadly, we remain firm in our commitment to support and guide our members as they continue to make a difference.

At the outset of the pandemic, the Board adopted a set of guiding principles for our response, with a particular focus on ensuring the high quality of service provided to members persisted regardless of change in delivery format, the continued pursuit of long-term sustainability of the organisation and supporting the wellbeing of members and employees.

This assessment steered the Board’s decision-making and resulted in a number of actions, including the application of a cash flow scenario analysis for potential adverse implications such as low revenue or reduced membership numbers, the introduction of quarterly payments for membership renewals as an alternative to an upfront fee and extending our Employee Assistance Program to members for counselling support. We delayed some capital projects while fast-tracking others that were much-needed, such as further investment into our IT infrastructure to ensure the online delivery of our flagship CA Program and to support employees working from home. Expenditure was reviewed as the pandemic developed to ensure member support had a sustainable focus. To support this, in light of the economic conditions the executive team acted early to relinquish their variable remuneration in 2020. The Board felt this was over and above our expectation, given the increased workload and intense change.

The rapid online pivot of the CA Program was a particularly noteworthy milestone this year. With over 90 per cent of the 8,750 candidates enrolled in Term 1 choosing to continue their studies online, CharteredAccountants Australia and New Zealand delivered nine invigilated exams, upskilled employees, facilitators and markers, held over 200 workshops and provided the necessary resources and support to our students. This exceptional effort over a short time has also set us up well for the long-term refresh of our CA Program.

"I am pleased to report that at the time of writing, we have stable, sustained membership and enrolment numbers and our guiding principles will continue to form the basis of our decision-making as we face unknown headwinds before us."
– John Palermo FCA, Chair

As the final year of our three-year strategy comes to an end, we aim to transition to a renewed CA Program environment in mid-2021. A Capability Model that maps out the development of members and the capabilities required at different career stages has been developed through extensive engagement and research, with a diagnostic tool to be launched in the first half of FY21.

This year also saw the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer, Ainslie van Onselen. Commencing the role in May 2020, Ainslie’s strong record of strategic thinking, agility and digital acumen will drive how we shape the future of the professional body, particularly in a post-COVID context, with a strategy refresh currently underway.

The Board and I would like to acknowledge and thank Rick Ellis for his contribution to the designation since joining as Chief Executive Officer in 2017. During his time Rick oversaw a strategic review which underpinned an ambitious vision for the future of the profession and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

We also wish to thank Simon Hann who was our interim Chief Executive Officer during 2020 for ably steering our professional body through the adjustments required to support members and continue to operate effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am pleased to report that at the time of writing, we have stable, sustained membership and enrolment numbers. Our guiding principles will continue to form the basis of our decision-making as we face unknown headwinds before us.

This year saw a series of significant events both externally and within your professional body. An extraordinary crisis required an extraordinary response and the accounting profession rose to the challenge.

John Palermo FCA