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June 5, 2014

Made in heaven inaugural speech: Bailey lands on ICAEW presidency

By Vincent Huck

Arthur Bailey, recently appointed president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) for 2014-2015, took office yesterday with an inaugural speech filled with humour and celestial imagery which also outlined ICAEW’s goals for the next 45 years.

Cautious that he was giving his speech approximately at the same time as the Queen was delivering hers in front of the members of parliament, Bailey started by thanking his audience for choosing him over the monarch.

He then reminded the audience that he was admitted as an ICAEW member in 1969, the same year the first man walked on the moon. "Forty-five years later and my personal spaceflight is about to take off," he said.

Going back to more serious matters he said that thinking about the ways society and businesses have changed since he first started his career was dizzying.

"And things will change just as much again in the next 45 years," he added. "Hopefully less Bladerunner and Hunger Games, and more peaceful, prosperous and fair."

He said he considered himself "extremely lucky to have lived through an era in which [the] profession has spread around the globe" and in which the accounting and auditing skills are more and more in demand.

"Our job at ICAEW, as I see it, is to make sure that the profession will be as relevant and useful to business, to the public sector, and to society in 45 years’ time," he said. "Whether we will be working here, mining asteroids, or opening another regional office somewhere in space."

Bailey concluded his speech by announcing the launch of several projects in the coming year: First, a project entitled Tomorrow’s Practice, which will look at how practice will change over the few years to stay relevant.

Then the ICAEW will launch a focused tax assembly initiative to rethink tax for the 21st century. Finally Bailey announced the publication of a manifesto for the UK elections in 2015 highlighting what businesses need from government.

"We are a hugely dynamic and relevant profession – to the economy, to business, to the public sector, to the third sector. We are also a massive employer and trainer and developer of new talent," he concluded.

"But there’s more we can and should do […] to help us think about the next 45 years with as much vision and ambition as those who put the first man on the moon."

Prior to his appointment Bailey has served on the ICAEW council for 14 years, including three years as chairman of audit. He also served as the institute vice-president in 2012-2013 under Mark Spofforth presidency.

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