Focusing on members

A look at the work of the ICAEW's four focus groups

Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia recently became the second place to have a City Group, set up under a major new initiative pioneered by the ICAEW's International Focus.

The second City Group followed on the successful launch of the first in Sydney, Australia, in March. The keynote speakers were ICAEW member Ali Kadir, chairman of the Malaysian Securities Commission, and ICAEW president, Peter Wyman.

The event marked the culmination of consultation by the International Focus with members in Malaysia, to find out what they wanted from a City Group. The aim of a City Group is to develop member forums in key economic centres worldwide and act as a consultation nucleus.

This innovative drive to improve two-way communications with members represents a key activity by the International Focus - one of four set up by the institute in May 2000, following extensive research which showed that structural changes were necessary to meet the needs of members more effectively.

Members can belong to focuses in Business, for those who work in business; Practice, for members and employees who work in practice; and International, for those who work outside the UK. In addition to belonging to the other focuses; members under 36 (about 25% of the total membership) can join the Younger Member Focus. Members can opt to join as many focuses as they wish.

Susan Wilkie, who as head of focus management and development, has the challenging task of making sure that the institute successfully reaches out to all its 120,000 members, explained: 'The idea of the focuses is to address the particular needs of members by initiating a programme of continuous dialogue and development to ascertain their views. We want to make sure that information is highly targeted and more specific to daily needs.'

David Illingworth, deputy president of the institute, commented: 'Since the formation of the focuses, the institute has been able to target members with accurate and timely information relevant to them and their particular focus.'

Focusing on the focuses

Here we focus in on the work the focuses do and how institute members can benefit from them.

Business Focus

Nigel Turnbull, recent past chairman, commented: 'After consulting members we launched business members' alert, which is now distributed electronically to members in business.

'A host of very successful activities have followed, including consultations commissioned by the Business Focus on behalf of the institute's Business Law Section in response to the Treasury White Paper and the Sandler Review, and research into what other accountancy and management bodies worldwide provide for business members.'

The institute wants to understand better the needs of business members. To this end a major piece of commissioned research was launched in April 2002 to ascertain what business members want from their institute. The results will be available soon. The chairman of the business focus is Jan Weber.

International Focus

Chairman Robert Webb said: 'The International Focus has consulted with members working overseas on a scale never achieved before. In addition to a host of key developments the city groups serve to underpin a key strategic theme of the institute to 'develop, promote and maintain a high profile for the institute, its qualification and its members locally, nationally and internationally' and thus strengthen the global chartered accountant concept. The successful launch of international members' alert electronically in July 2001 to 15,000 members has been an added bonus'.

A first for the institute is the recent appointment of a contact member in China, supporting members on the ground and helping to influence the institute's profile locally with key decision makers.

Practice Focus

Peter Douglas, recent past chairman, commented: 'We have carried out several intensive research projects, specifically the focus-initiated investment business research, which ultimately led to the formation of CAIFS (Chartered Accountants Independent Financial Services). Discussion groups have been held with general practitioners to determine the daily concerns facing them in their working lives as well as identifying potential areas for development.' The focus is taking the lead on consulting members widely on practice assurance, on which the whole membership is voting. The chairman of the Practice Focus is David Chitty.

Younger Member Focus

Alun Morgan, recent past chairman, said: 'We have held our inaugural Younger Member Focus Consultation Day, which was a great success in communicating to members what the ICAEW could provide them with. It was rewarding to see members' views of the institute change for the better in front of our eyes. We have also successfully consulted on subscription issues and internationalisation of the qualification.' The chairman of the Younger Member Focus is Andrew Baigent.

For more information on the focuses go to: and log in.

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