So Helen Brand, who has been appointed chief executive of ACCA, can expect
some choppy waters soon after taking over. This will come not least because she
is not ACCA qualified.
I have to say, though qualification would be nice, it’s difficult to see why
it should be a necessity. Brand’s job will be to run the organisation, not do
someone’s accounts for them or file an audit. The question is whether she is
able to lead ACCA through what is clearly going to be interesting times.
ACCA leads the way in China, sees India as a viable target and generally
seeks a big global footprint. Other institutes are playing the same game, but
perhaps pitching themselves as ‘prestige’ while depicting the competition as
It will need to resist that image and will need to maintain ACCA’s brand as a
quality mark of distinction if it really wants to succeed.
As a journalist, I would say this, but if you’re going to achieve those
things you also need a high-profile leadership not afraid to speak out and make
its voice heard. You win the membership over if they believe your thought
leadership is being heard. But that can’t be achieved behind closed doors – you
need to get out in the open.
Departing chief Alan Blewitt knew that and put himself about allowing nous
and knowledge to back up confidence in public.
In that respect, Blewitt represented a significant break with the past
(though some won’t appreciate being reminded of that) and that initiative cannot
afford to be lost. Why not? Because it is the one thing upper most in the minds
of the people running the competition too. Can’t afford to be second place in
Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy age
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