Chief executive Rick Ellis’ “strategic review” of CA ANZ, which he announced within three months of taking office last year, is starting to take shape in the form of internal policy and personnel changes with aims to ultimately create a refreshed vision and purpose to the association.
The extensive changes come as the association posted deficits of almost $8.2 million and $6.77 million in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Inside CA ANZ
Mr Ellis commissioned an external consultant to inform a change management process for CA ANZ, which involved about 100 member-focused workshops in Australia and New Zealand. This framed the scope of CA ANZ’s restructure, which will be centred on professionals, practices, services and communities of the future.
The fruits of the project will remain mostly under wraps until about June this year, but some major internal changes are already in the works.
“We will be going through the process of realigning resources to strategic priorities,” Mr Ellis told Accountants Daily.
“Like any shift in strategic focus from the past to the future, there’s going to be change, and that change has been articulated to our staff,” he said.
Third-party partnerships will be a more significant focus for CA ANZ, particularly when it comes to technology. In one of the more significant departures from its historic focus, the association is currently in confidential conversations with the likes of New Zealand’s Wynyard Quarter and Icehouse, with a view to expand fintech-based services and focus.
“We need to develop and secure capabilities that enable us to engage in this world that we don’t currently have in the organisation,” said Mr Ellis.
On a smaller scale, Mr Ellis has also changed basic processes to realign costs and productivity with the association’s new goals. Travel expenditure was one of the first to get the chop for CA ANZ staff.
“I have dramatically reduced travel expenditure,” Mr Ellis said.
“At the end of the day, if I need to attend a meeting, or one of our staff need to attend a meeting, they can just as easily Skype. That time spent travelling is also not particularly productive,” he said.
“So, our journey is about one of efficiency which drives lower cost, but also about productivity through investment and capability that extends to outreach and our engagement with members,” he said.
For members, the most obvious impact in the short to mid-term of CA ANZ’s shake-up will be to its education services.
In particular, Mr Ellis said CA ANZ will be shifting its attention from physical events to virtual learning, as a cost-saving measure and also in response to feedback from regional and remote members who can't easily access metropolitan venues.
“The net benefit, overall, is we need to find lower cost and more effective ways to deliver services to members,” Mr Ellis said.
“Including some one-offs, we have been operating in a net deficit for the last two years. And that’s not sustainable. So we need to move into the black and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
CA ANZ also plans to broaden entry points beyond accounting degrees to its popular CA Program, which has traditionally had a focus on core accounting subjects. This is broadly in line with moves of similar bodies in the UK and USA.
“We’ve been pretty traditional and classic in our pathways to the CA Program, but it's not meeting the needs now of the communities that we serve, and employers,” Mr Ellis said.
“There will be a broader community of graduates from a broader constituency of subject matters who are able to move into the CA Program,” he said.
The CA Program is a significant source of revenue for CA ANZ. Students pay $1,225 per subject, with five subjects to be admitted. They also pay an annual fee of $340 to be an affiliate member. Enrolments for the CA Program have been steadily increasingly. In 2015, CA Program enrolments stood at 20,741. As at November last year, they totalled 23,056.
The CA timetable is currently undergoing another restructure, after a change from semesters to trimesters saw hundreds of students have their finishing dates pushed out by several months.
More broadly, members can also expect change to how they access professional development content and track their CPD.
“We need to broaden accessibility, not just of our content, but to other content that is relevant to the profession, through partnerships that are, shall we say, tech-based,” Mr Ellis said.