President’s Report to Members – March 2016

Dear Member

This is the first of what will become a regular reporting to you of the proceedings of the Council of the Institute and on matters concerning the Institute as a whole. It is expected that there will regularly be four reports a year, one after each Council meeting (there are two per annum) and before and after the Annual General Meeting. These reports will keep you informed of the important issues before the Council and increase the transparency of its operations.

Council Matters

The most important issue before the Council at its March meeting was the ongoing work to formulate a new International Qualifying Standard (IQS). It has been a number of years since the IQS was formally reviewed. The review was initiated to bring the qualification up to date and to make it more relevant to a wider range of professionals.

The Council has the very able assistance of Dr Jenny Rees, an educational consultant, and to work with her, the Council has also appointed a working group comprising the Chair of the Professional Standards Committee (PSC) Andy Cowe, Tim Sheehy (The DirectorGeneral), Stephen Sadie, The CEO of the Southern African Division and myself.

The recent work by Dr Rees and the Working Group had led to a recommendation that for many reasons, provision should be made for two possible professional designations for members of the Institute. Some of the factors included which arose out of wide-ranging market research by a number of divisions: –

  • the significant changes to the role of the secretary over the past decade or so, including, for example, a greater role in risk and compliance;
  • the wider range of roles being played within organisations by our members; less than one- third of our members now call themselves company secretaries;
  • the broader role that governance is playing in the conduct of many organisations, not just companies;
  • and the demands of the market for broader training in governance.

The implication of this is that there could be two different qualifying routes, with a number of subjects in common but allowing candidates a choice between courses focussed on secretaryship and administration and a course more focussed on strategy and risk management.

The two professional designations would be the traditional Chartered Secretary, which would continue unchanged in its status, and an alternative focussed more on a broader governance qualification, which might be called Chartered Governance Professional or Corporate Governance Specialist.

The essence of the recommendation is to enable each Division to consider offering one or other or both courses – not every Division will see a need in their market for both courses.

The second major recommendation from Dr Rees and the Working Group was that there should be provision in the IQS for an early exit point for students who did not wish to complete the full course. Provided that they had completed the required core subjects, they should be offered a limited level of participation in the Institute. The new level will not equate to full membership (they would not be entitled to call themselves “Chartered” or use the post-nominals “ACIS” or “FCIS”).

This again is an “enabling” recommendation – no Division will be required to offer this option. Both these recommendations followed consultations with the Divisions.

After lengthy debate, the Council resolved to adopt these recommendations unanimously.

Another decision made by the Council was to adopt a logo, which you will see above. It is the Institute’s traditional crest, slightly simplified for ease of reproduction and it will appear on all documentation emanating from the Council. It will not replace each Division’s own logo but it is hoped that the Divisions will also find ways of using it.

Another issue considered by the Council was the setting up of a central membership register which is required by the new byelaws. At present there is no such register which makes it difficult for the Council to communicate directly with the membership for some basic legal requirements, such as the annual report to the members and the notice of the annual general meeting. All Divisions have privacy legislation to protect the rights of private individuals – care will need to be exercised in meeting both the requirements of the byelaws and the provisions of the privacy legislation.

The level of cooperation, good will and understanding on Council remains very high and it has been a pleasure to work with the Council during my term in office.

Professional Standards Committee

This Committee has the critical responsibility for the membership qualification and the IQS. It meets twice a year and monitors the examination processes of the Divisions to ensure as far as possible a common level of attainment at the prescribed academic level. It met just before the Council meeting and, in addition to its usual monitoring work, it reviewed and endorsed the recommendations for the IQS referred to above. There is a very good spirit of cooperation, good spirit and conscientiousness on the Committee.

Annual General Meeting and September Council Meeting

The Annual General Meeting will be held in Sydney this year on 14 September to coincide with the Council meeting on 15/16 September. Formal notice and the annual report will be sent out to members in due course.

Honorary Officers

The other important job facing the Council at this meeting was to elect honorary officers to take office for a 2-year term from 1 July. I am delighted to report that David Venus, currently a Vice-President, was elected unopposed to take over as President. The two VicePresidents are Edith Shih and Peter Turnbull. Jill Parratt will be joining the Executive Committee.

Andy Cowe will be stepping down as a Past President and as Chair of the PSC on 30 June. He has been the Chair of PSC for the past 6 years and has done a most valuable and valued job. Ron Rosenhead stepped down from the Council at the conclusion of the meeting – his service is also much appreciated.

My term of office as President will finish on 30 June. It has been a great honour to have served as President for a second 2-year term and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I will continue to have an involvement with the Council as Immediate Past President and my colleagues have done me the honour of electing me to succeed Andy as Chair of the PSC.

With best wishes to all

Frank Bush
icsa President