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A matter of trust

Professional membership of the ACCA is all about trust, says Claire Bennison

February 2018

The New Year is well and truly here, and now’s the time when many people make promises for the year ahead. Whatever your professional or educational goals are for 2018, it’s important not to lose sight of what you need achieve this year as you head towards membership.
Membership of a professional body matters in today’s global economy. In a global business culture that relies on trust to function, professional qualifications and membership of a respected body are essential for success.
Most of us would never trust a dentist, doctor or lawyer who is not professionally qualified, or did not have a professional designation, and was not a member of a recognised body.
All of these are professions that need top qualifications to succeed, and accountancy is no different. Currently, membership of the ACCA has grown to over 200,000. This is a huge milestone achievement, showcasing how our members have helped lead and advise organisations of all sizes across geographies and economic sectors over the last 113 years.
Membership bodies and professional qualifications have real value in these economically challenging times. When doing business with a member of a professional body, there is a guarantee that that person will be well trained and will practice with professionalism. ACCA and other leading professional bodies all have dedicated teams of qualified lawyers who will investigate and try to resolve problems that are brought to their attention. In some instances, if there is a breach of the code of conduct, this can involve the individual or company under scrutiny being fined or removed from membership of the body.
When there is more than one body representing your profession, it is important that you choose the one best placed to enable you to develop your career and meet your long-term goals.
A good professional body will have tough but business relevant qualifications at the end of its courses. Hard-earned qualifications and membership of a top body will be recognised in your chosen profession, and this recognition will only increase your credibility. Importantly, this could make the difference when your bosses decide if you or a similar professional gets the promotion.
Becoming an accountant isn’t the only career path for an accounting qualification. Many qualified finance professionals progress into senior positions in other types of organisations, from banking and regulation to government and academia. Many of the skills taught on the course are ‘transferrable’. Qualifications like the ACCA equip people with skills and tools needed to achieve their dreams.
Finding a qualification that is recognised worldwide is very important. A global qualification allows greater mobility between sectors and countries, as well as making a candidate more attractive to employers.
A top professional body’s involvement with their members should not just finish once they have completed their exams or handed in their membership fees. ACCA, for example, requires its members that provide services to the public to adhere to certain regulations that are intended to protect the public. These members may also be subject to inspections by ACCA staff who understand how accountancy firms operate and are able to assess whether the members have complied with relevant rules, regulations and standards.
Importantly, membership of a professional body provides an individual with the opportunity to progress to senior positions in public practice, the corporate sector and government and, because of the position reached, contribute to the influencing and shaping of policy decisions at government or regulator level.
Professional bodies act as a ‘critical friend’ to policy makers, using their membership base and considerable collective expertise to inform, educate and influence at the very highest levels.
Looking to the future, ACCA is currently being studied by 486,000 students worldwide, many of them readers of PQ magazine. Job prospects are promising. With ethics and professionalism being central to the ACCA Qualification, qualified accountants are in high demand.
ACCA members can be found working in the world’s leading accountancy firms as well as for multinationals – from Shell to JP Morgan – and for any number of growing or entrepreneurial small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) or practices (SMPs).
While it takes time and effort to become a member of trusted professional body – the benefits from that membership will make it more than worthwhile.
• Claire Bennison, ACCA UK

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