(c) Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. Contact ICAS for permission to reproduce this article., Business Management

What is the role of CAs in society?

By Hannah Downie

As a CA and ICAS policy expert, the “big issues” are never far from Bruce Cartwright’s mind. So it is fitting that his first initiative as CEO, Challenging Conversations, seeks to tackle them.

For Bruce Cartwright, challenging the status quo comes with the territory of being a chartered accountant.

“As a CA, I believe we have a role to play in society. Our work places us in a position of trust, and our education has afforded us the privilege of knowledge. We have an obligation to use this, on behalf of society, to speak out on challenging issues.” Cue ICAS’ new initiative, Challenging Conversations.

“The essence of Challenging Conversations is simple: start a debate. When we see things happening that we think need debated, or we think there’s a better way of doing things, we should talk about it, even if we’re not entirely comfortable raising the issue,” says Bruce.

“Challenging Conversations, and indeed solutions, evolve from challenging questions and that is at the heart of our objective.”

We need to talk about the big issues

The thought-leadership initiative seeks to inform and drive debate on vital issues which aren’t being considered adequately, such as corruption, the ethics of disruptive tech and pensions.

“I want to put the spotlight on subjects that the business community and government should look at in more detail. I want ICAS to speak out on behalf of our members and wider society, and be punchier on issues,” Bruce says. “Business needs to play an active role in creating a better society.”

This approach is central to ICAS’ remit to act in the public interest, under its royal charter. “Our motto, Quaere Verum, charges us to seek the truth. This is what we are trying to achieve with Challenging Conversations. It’s only when organisations such as ICAS initiate the conversation and demand honest answers that we can tackle the fundamental problems in society.”

Through events, debates, articles and videos, Challenging Conversations will explore subjects and call upon leading thinkers, industry experts and government stakeholders to drive forward the challenges, ideas and solutions that need to emerge from each important debate.

“Our view will be based upon input from our own staff working with our expert panels – more than 200 members and non-member volunteers,” says Bruce. These contributors are leaders in their own field and a key component to the success of ICAS’ thought leadership activity.

“We will refine our views based on members’ and other external stakeholders’ feedback. Our view will always reflect what we believe is in the public interest. We don’t expect everyone to agree with us but that is the purpose of debate. The ultimate purpose is to work with others to find consensual solutions.”

But for this debate to have the momentum to effect real change, we need one very important thing …

The power of our network

CAs are part of a worldwide network of more than 21,000 people. The depth of experience, knowledge and expertise of the ICAS community is unparalleled.

“It’s vital we get member feedback. The collective force of 21,000 members is powerful. If we publish a view you don’t agree with, tell us. If we publish a view you do agree with, tell us. The quality of the debate will be testament to the volume and variety of feedback,” says Bruce.

This article was originally published by ICAS.