ACCA satisfied with AGM despite low turnout

ACCA’S CHIEFS are satisfied with the results of this week’s AGM despite a voter turnout of just 2.8% on the defeat of a series of special motions, which had the potential to fundamentally change the way the institute functions.

Just 5,000 of its 178,000 members voted in its AGM, including eight proposals put forward by a group of ACCA members led by Anthony Thorne. The eight proposals included calls for ACCA’s senior management team to be subject to the same disciplinary rules as its members; that the institute’s CEO and executive team hold ACCA membership having qualified through examinations and; the practice of delegated proxy voting ceases – a ballot that was somewhat ironically swung by proxy votes.

While some motions were roundly dismissed, there were several extremely closely-run results, including the motion on disciplinary processes – which lost out by a single vote.

“We are satisfied with the treatment of these issues and the process,” institute president Anthony Harbinson told Accountancy Age. “If you compare [the turnout] to other professional bodies, it’s in exactly the same order of magnitude. The vast majority of members of any professional body don’t engage beyond doing their CPD and paying their fees, and that’s something we’ve struggled with because we want to engage with members.

“It’s only when people see it as a crisis that affects them that people will stand up and vote. It’s not just in professional bodies, I work in government and fewer and fewer people are voting,” he added. “Both Tony [Thorne] and us ran very good campaigns in support of our views on the resolutions, and if that doesn’t encourage people to come out and vote, what would? I think the vast majority of people are content.”

Chief executive Helen Brand added that while members are often more engaged in other areas which relate more to their day-to-day experience, the institute is keen to stimulate greater engagement in governance.

“We had the special resolutions this year for the first time for a long time, so I anticipated votes going up because it becomes more interesting,” Brand said.

“There is something about that active participation in governance that’s challenged at the moment.”

Although disappointed, Thorne and his supporters were philosophical in defeat, adding members can “take heart” from the process to reform the association.

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