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Contribute to the effective governance of an organisation

PO 2 is linked to Paper P1, Governance, Risk and Ethics

As a professional accountant, while ensuring that you behave in a manner that's in line with organisational policies, you should support your senior management in order to facilitate effective governance.

Accountants today play increasingly wider business roles – rather than simply totting up the figures – their reach extends into many other facets of the organisations within which they work. This places them in an ideal position to use their professional knowledge and business insight to influence how organisations are run.

You should support senior management to facilitate effective governance. To perform effectively, you need to:

  • provide information, at the appropriate time, required by senior management to support decision-making
  • implement organisational policies and procedures in your area of responsibility
  • ensure compliance with legal, regulatory and social requirements in your area of responsibility.

A key element of this performance objective is that achievement is not a 'one-off' – consistency over a period of time is required. Even short lapses in good governance can be seriously detrimental to an organisation's effective performance. By building on a sound base of ethics awareness, you can work towards a commitment to good governance instinctively underpinning all you do as part of your day-to-day role.

There are a number of ways in which you can contribute to effective governance:

  • Make requests from senior management (or other lines of authority) for information your top priority; carefully consider what the purpose of that information is, or is likely to be, so that, rather than sending out data or facts blindly, you respond within an appropriate context.
  • Be commercially aware – understand the industry or service sector in which your organisation operates: what are the opportunities and risks? How might conclusions you draw impact on your own employer’s organisational effectiveness? What can you proactively alert management to about these?
  • Have a demonstrable purpose when organising colleagues and/or external parties to attend meetings or conference calls. Take the lead – by setting an agenda, stating the aims and ensuring that effective minutes are taken and circulated.
  • Make yourself aware of regulatory or statutory frameworks within which your organisation (or finance team) should be operating.
  • Understand all aspects of your employer’s policy on environmental impact; from a finance perspective, how are you helping to ensure the policy is adhered to? In what ways does your role interact with non-finance colleagues such that you might reasonably urge others to comply with the policy, thereby helping to control governance efforts?

The next step is to answer the challenge questions for this objective:

  • Describe how in your role you have contributed to effective governance; provide at least two examples. (These can be as narrow or wide as you like – from a seemingly small action that could have had far-reaching consequences had you made a different decision; to thoughts or ideas you sent in response to a departmental or company-wide invitation to contribute to policy formulation).
  • In what ways did you make sure you acted in the best interests of all concerned? (Whose approval or advice did you seek; how did you assess the pros and cons of your options; what knowledge informed your decision?)
  • What negative impact(s) would have resulted if you had not acted in the way you did? (Consider how the actual outcome might have impacted on you, on your colleagues and on the organisation’s business or reputation in the market.)

Last updated: 13 Jun 2013