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September 22, 2010

Australia and New Zealand break new ground with collaboration

Most members of the Global Accounting Alliance are looking closely at a new partnership between the Australian and New Zealand CA institutes, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA) chief executive Graham Meyer has claimed.

As part of the GAA – which encompasses the world’s most well-established CA institutes – the ICAA and New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) have often talked about collaboration. They have also collaborated with other GAA members at different levels.

But Meyer said the ICAA’s arrangement with the NZICA is broader ranging than any previous partnerships.

There are four work streams the two institutes will focus most closely on:

  • Collaborating on the CA programme;
  • Further development of member products and services;
  • Joint marketing activities; and,
  • Shared IT systems to provide new or enhanced online member services and benefits.

An example how the collaboration will work is the ICAA recently overhauled its entire IT system. The NZICA also needs to do this, so the two organisations will investigate what synergies can be achieved in terms of buying power and architecture.

“A good example is the new website that we are launching,” Meyer explains. “Essentially, New Zealand has picked up all the technology behind our website and they will just put different skins on it in terms of their colours. The framework and the development will be identical. We will be able to extend that into most of the other systems we are developing.”

The ICAA will not change the content of its programme, but change the instructional design.

“We will be using a lot more web, a lot more podcast, a lot more online tutorial help,” Meyer said.

The institutes are also looking at the possibility of having a single programme in the future.

Building the brand

A key objective of the partnership is to work towards ensuring the CA qualification is the most favoured professional designation for accountants within the Asia-Pacific region.

Many of the ICAA’s competitors, such as CPA Australia, have more focus on training students and recruiting members abroad. Although the ICAA does have some regional involvement, its main focus is on Australia.

Meyer said the new partnership with the NZICA is “absolutely” a way for the more local institutes to extend their reach and influence more broadly.

“I think more and more institutes will need to maintain a domestic focus but our customers – our members – are moving and dealing overseas and therefore we need to provide services for them as well,” Meyer explained.

“Certainly with New Zealand, they obviously have a large interest in Asia as well and it gives us the opportunity to strengthen the CA brand and the opportunity to help build capability in the region.”

Meyer predicts this type of partnership is the way forward for professional accountancy bodies in the future global environment.

“If you look at the Big Four firms, for example, they started off collaborating on a global level and you get to someone like E&Y now, which is a global firm. I think there is that opportunity, certainly among the GAA members, for us to collaborate a lot more strongly with a governance framework that ensures that it gets delivered.”

A key part of the ICAA and NZICA partnership has been the creation of a common governance board that will oversee the projects the two institutes are collaborating on.

“Each national board will still have responsibility for its own members and I think that sort of model will become more common around the world,” Meyer predicted.

Meyer said he knows of no other professional accountancy bodies that have a similar joint governance board in place, but that within the GAA, most of the members are looking very closely at it.

Close ties

Meyer said the ICAA and NZICA partnership makes particular sense due to the close relationship between the Australian and New Zealand governments, businesses and economies.

“Both governments have come out and said they are seeking greater collaboration between professional services, accounting standards and so on,” Meyer explains. “So, this fits in with government policy, but more importantly, it fits in with the interests of our members.”

 

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