Leader – Listen to the silent majority

Accountants and their professional bodies are traditionally more like enemies than friends. Gather a few members of any of the CCAB bodies in a room and they will soon begin to list their grievances and swap tales of bad service and idiotic council decisions.

The fact that most members are content to pay their subscriptions and keep out of institute politics says more about member relations than a thousand surveys ever can.

Populists, of which each institute has more than its fair share, argue that the solution is to increase member involvement in decision making.

Taking this argument to its extreme, they have even argued that members should be consulted on issues as parochial as the content of individual issues of regional branch newsletters.

The reality is that most institutes need less member involvement and more accountability to members. They badly need to modernise their thinking, but it will not be an easy task. Volunteers, who give up hours of their own time, are the people who make policy. They will naturally feel affronted, especially those for who institute activities are a main part of their lives. But upsetting the minority is probably a price worth paying.

The challenge is to re-engage the majority of members in their institute.

Attempting this by making demands on their time has failed. The institutes need to find new ways of listening to all their members and then acting on what they say.

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