This article was first published in the July/August 2016 international edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

While ACCA celebrated its own 100th anniversary back in 2004, this year we have another century to celebrate after opening our 100th office, in Turkey. 

When I read this news in the draft of our latest integrated report (due to be published in late July), I began reflecting on how far ACCA has come. Back in 1904, eight accountants founded the London Association of Accountants, the forerunner of ACCA. From just eight to 178,000 members; from one office in London to 100, covering every major city in the world, and then some. That is quite an accomplishment, and a collective journey to where we are now – the number one global body for professional accountants.

As we’ve grown, we’ve changed – and changed the world at the same time. For example, 1909 saw ACCA’s Ethel Ayres Purdie become the first woman to belong to a professional accountancy body. And what Purdie started, we’ve continued. Today, 54% of ACCA’s student body is female. That’s a quarter of a million ambitious, motivated young women embarking on a career in business. That is diversity in action – that is ACCA in action. 

Shortly after Purdie joined, in 1913, ACCA opened an office in South Africa, its first outside the UK, followed by one in the country of my birth, Malaysia; just two years later it was the turn of Singapore. From 1950 onwards, offices sprang up around the world more and more quickly – Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Nigeria and Malawi – right up to this year when Helen Brand, our chief executive, opened our newest office in Turkey.

ACCA has always been an organisation of firsts – thinking ahead in order to stay ahead. Pioneering is part of our DNA. It isn’t easy because it means doing things no one else has ever done. We can all be immensely proud of being part of a professional body unafraid to do things first – often in places where others fear to tread. Just last month we announced we will be helping the ministry of finance in Afghanistan to train 1,000 professional accountants in the country. I hope and expect to see an ACCA office opened there too in the coming years.

These offices are more than just a number. Membership can be a gateway to a whole new world of experiences, achievements and professional – not to mention personal – development. As ACCA expands, so we make that journey possible for more people. 

On a day-to-day basis, regional offices are an invaluable touch-point for members like me. The people I have met and the friends I have made through the office in Malaysia, and the many others I’ve visited over the 30 years since I qualified as an ACCA member, have given me some of my most cherished memories.

Knowing how much value I have taken from my own local office, I would urge each and every one of you to engage with yours as much as you can. All these offices have been created to better support us – ACCA’s members and students. Here’s to the next 100!