Digital pivot for candidates
In response to the COVID-19 disruptions and to ensure the safety of candidates, Chartered Accountants ANZ set out with the objective of allowing candidates to progress with their CA Program studies online while maintaining academic integrity.
The 8,750 candidates who were enrolled in the Term 1 CA Program were given a choice to continue with their studies online with over 90 per cent opting to progress. In six weeks, we delivered four modules remotely with the introduction of online exams, workshops and classes.
Delivered 9 online exams for the first time for 8,008 candidates in 10 countries in Term 1
This involved remote proctoring of online exams for all modules, a new compulsory academic integrity module and test for candidates taking the online exam, interactive workshops and marking of exams.
To gauge the sheer breadth of this online transition, this effort required over 236 facilitators and 446 markers being trained in online delivery and platform functionality, 160 Capstone workshops being delivered online, 114 CA Study Masterclass workshops rescheduled and converted, and a suite of additional guides on how to approach online exams.
With early learnings from the initial exams, our third-party proctoring service rectified technical hitches and internally we rapidly bolstered our Member Support Team capabilities to ensure timely support was on-hand for candidates during exams.
In terms of outcome, nine online invigilated exams were held for 8,008 candidates who elected to continue their studies across 10 countries, with 96 per cent reporting no problems with access, and 7,155 candidates successfully completing the new Academic Integrity Module and Academic Integrity Test.
Our post implementation review which included 2,416 candidate responses found 88 per cent described the online exam experience as extremely good, good or average.
This significant milestone provides a solid foundation for the continuation of online delivery for Term 2 and our long-term CA Program refresh.
"It was a fast decision that your team has undertaken, and worked on under such a short time, from the online workshop to the online exam while many other institutions decided to defer the class and exam to a later time, you did not bow to the pandemic and came out with such a brilliant alternative. Proud to be your student, candidate and hopefully member soon."
– CA Candidate
Chartered Accountants ANZ maintains a broad ranging suite of professional development opportunities to help members remain up-to-date and relevant and allows employers to invest in the development of their employees through quality training.
Our conference centres hosted 3,036 events and meetings – 2,291 in Sydney, 509 in Wellington and 236 in Auckland.
COVID-19 saw many of our CPD workshops, conferences and regional events transformed into an online digital experience for our members. 1,100 planned face-to-face events from March to June 2020 were analysed and categorised into those that could be an online offering, scaled up or postponed with some cancelled.
128 events were pivoted and delivered in an online format consisting of 74 regional CPD events, 48 educational CPD workshops and 6 conferences such as our annual Accounting and Audit Conferences. Over 46,000 members registered for 158 online events, which includes those that were pivoted and new events. Members’ feedback from workshops and events held in May saw an event rating of 4.36 out of 5 with 60 per cent preferring the online delivery of events, and over 95 per cent of conference attendees stating they would consider attending another online event.
Events were pivoted to an online format
During our end of financial year sale, we also provided over 25,000 complimentary knowledge products to members valued at $2.5 million.
While our CPD courses focus more on the technical and business skills people need to develop, with their subscription members can also obtain free, unlimited usage of LinkedIn Learning. Launched to members in July 2019, the online platform has courses and videos that address many professional skills, such as communication and collaboration.
Accessible through My CA, more than 17,000 members have since activated LinkedIn Learning with over 80,000 courses viewed and just under 17,000 completed. The average time for each LinkedIn Learning viewer was three hours and 16 minutes, exploring popular courses such as high performance, Excel skills and financial modelling. Almost 40 per cent of members who have activated their LinkedIn Learning are working in the commerce sector and almost a third are from the practice sector.
LinkedIn learning hours
29,138 hours of learning delivered at no cost to members via LinkedIn Learning
In March 2020, the Chartered Accountants ANZ Board approved a fifth specialisation of Risk Specialisation, which will commence in October 2020.
This new specialisation is a future growth opportunity for the profession, as sectors such as banking place a greater focus on risk and the increased complexity of the environments in which Chartered Accountants work, which will continue to become more sophisticated with data and other technology changes.
The table below represents membership across the existing four specialisations.
Launched in December 2018, a Member Insights Panel was devised to help us understand members’ needs in greater detail to inform decisions about how we can support them better.
The Panel comprises 5,200 members from across Australia and New Zealand and is an opportunity for members to provide feedback on a wide range of initiatives and issues.
Over 2019-20, the panel ran 11 surveys, providing valuable input for the Capability Model as well as topics such as climate change, trust, innovation, the future of the profession and accounting technologies.
Members can also provide feedback or resolve queries by contacting our Member Support Team. During the year the Member Support Team handled 104,054 phone calls, resolved 48,514 cases and responded to 30,430 emails.
Professional Standards Scheme
In Australia, the Professional Standards Council approved our application for a new Professional Standards (Limitation of Liability) Scheme which permits all Australian members in public practice (members with a Certificate of Public Practice, affiliate members and practice entity members) to benefit from participation in the Scheme. This Scheme commenced in all states and territories on 8 October 2019 and will remain in force for a period of five years.
Maintaining high standards
The practice review program is an integral part of our compliance framework, helping us maintain the pre-eminence of the Chartered Accountants designation. Each year, we review a selection of members offering accounting services to the public to determine whether they have appropriate quality controls in place to meet professional, technical and legislative requirements.
This allows us to assist members in achieving and maintaining quality, understand where members need additional guidance to stay up-to-date with changes in requirements and satisfy our regulatory and professional obligations.
If our review finds that a practice’s policies and procedures do not meet the relevant requirements, they are asked to develop an improvement plan to address the issues raised. In some cases, a reviewer will revisit the practice within a set period to ensure the issues have been addressed.
We work with these practices, providing mentors, tools and education, and close monitoring of the improvement plan, to help them meet or exceed minimum requirements at the re-review. We also use what we learn from this process to promote continuous improvement among all practising members.
Our 2019-20 reviews revealed that the majority of practices reviewed had adequate quality controls in place. The majority of re-reviews were a result of inadequate quality control or insufficient documentation of audit evidence, or a combination of both. Insufficient expertise for the services being offered and practice solvency resulted in an unsatisfactory review.
COVID-19 had a significant impact on the number of reviews completed during the year. A total of 337 reviews were completed in Australia and New Zealand in 2019-20, compared to 436 in the previous year. Due to government travel restrictions and social distancing rules, our reviewers were unable to visit practices to conduct quality reviews. We have introduced greater flexibility into the review process, including remotely conducted reviews.
Our Professional Conduct Team exists to protect the reputation of Chartered Accountants, ensuring members comply with our high professional and ethical standards at all stages of their careers.
The team investigates complaints against members and maintains a robust process to discipline poor conduct, where it is uncovered. Independent oversight of our Professional Conduct Team is maintained in both Australia and New Zealand to monitor integrity, timeliness and effectiveness.
All decisions in the complaints process are made by independent entities – the Professional Conduct Committee, Disciplinary Tribunal and Appeals Tribunal/Council. Complaints are assessed by the Professional Conduct Committee and can then be referred to a Disciplinary Tribunal, where evidence is presented from the investigation. The processes and procedures underpinning all of the disciplinary bodies are aimed at ensuring that procedural fairness is afforded to participants in the process.
The Professional Conduct Oversight Committee and the New Zealand Regulatory Board respectively have oversight responsibility for the integrity, timeliness and effectiveness of the disciplinary procedures carried out by the Professional Conduct Committee, the Disciplinary Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal/Council.
Complaint numbers can vary significantly from year to year. This year the number of complaints received continued at slightly lower than averages in recent years. We continue with our in-depth investigations into complex and more serious complaints. In addition, there have been a number of cases heard by the Disciplinary Tribunal during 2019-20 which were not finalised by year end.
Complaints against members 2019-20 (Previous year in brackets)
Professional conduct investigation outcomes (% resolved)
Sanctions ordered by disciplinary and appeals tribunals
The Chartered Accountants ANZ Library continued its ongoing transformation towards a predominately online service in 2020, rolling out two new digital platforms which also enabled the provision of continued service to members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, the Library launched an audiobook platform, which was enthusiastically adopted by members, who have already accessed 2,474 audiobook titles.
The Library also provided 9,721 eBook downloads, down slightly from 10,426 last year with the launch of audiobooks as an alternative digital format. Hardcopy book issues continued to decline to 1,836, down from 3,196 the previous year, partly due to the suspension of book distribution while our offices were closed during the pandemic.
The Library provides research assistance, at no extra charge to members, with 1,505 member requests answered this year, with slightly reduced requests during the lockdown periods.
The Library also offers access to thousands of articles, journals, tools and templates, largely focused on tax, technical accounting and financial services topics. There were 37,843 articles downloaded during the 2019-20 year, up from 33,614 last year.
As a trial service, the Library offered Business Book Summaries to members from April 2020 to June 2020, and 1,145 summaries were downloaded throughout this period.
Valued business publication
The Acuity magazine provides an in-depth look on matters of economics, business and finance with the latest trends, expert advice and insightful interviews.
The key findings from a member survey in February 2020 saw 80 per cent of members stating they had read Acuity magazine in print in the past 12 months, averaging between four and five issues each year, with 73 per cent indicating Acuity added value to their membership.
The print run of Acuity is delivered to 88,424 subscribers in more than 100 countries and subscribers to the digital version has grown from 6,300 to 18,926 since its relaunch.
During 2019-20, we have focused on ensuring our people remain connected, informed and safe particularly as working from home arrangements were made during COVID-19 lockdown periods. Through the introduction of a new intranet platform in December 2019, regular organisation-wide webinar updates held every 2-3 weeks, catch ups on training and other information sessions that are made available and an internal podcast series, employees were able to easily consume relevant information directly from leaders plus collaborate and connect with peers.
The vision, values and purpose of Chartered Accountants ANZ were embedded into recruitment, onboarding and performance management processes. Our engagement survey suggests that our values resonate with our employees’ personal values, which is one of the reasons why they join the organisation and stay.
Our work on culture continues to improve the lived experience of these values for employees of your professional body. The executive team focuses on lead indicators as we operationalise our safety management system including achieving a target of one mental health First Aider for every medical First Aider. A comprehensive COVID-19 response plan was developed including mental health, fitness and wellbeing support. Remote ergonomics assessments and IT updates were developed to support working from home across the organisation.
A performance framework called Difference Makers+ was introduced to enhance the performance framework and support the organisation’s aspiration to build a high performance and member-centric culture. Chartered Accountants ANZ also undertook an internal diversity and inclusion audit to inform a strategy and targets and are in the process of developing our first Reconciliation Action Plan.
Our voluntary turnover is at 18.94 per cent which is similar to the previous year at 18.74 per cent. As at 30 June 2020, our total number of permanent full-time employees was 480 compared with 426 for the prior year.
Proportion of female representation
Everybody Counts is a charitable giving programme that allows our people to donate through our payroll system. It also includes general collections, in-kind donations and volunteer work.
Members and employees of Chartered Accountants ANZ raised more than $54,000 during the year to support our charity partners Dementia Australia, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Reachout.com, RSPCA, The Smith Family, NZ Autism, Cancer Society, SPCA and Youthline.
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