Covid-19 one year on: a message from ACCA's president and chief executive

Read Mark Millar's and Helen Brand's message to ACCA's global members.

It’s now over a year since the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a public health emergency. We hope you remain safe and well as the pandemic continues to bring turbulence and uncertainty.

As we reflect on this anniversary, we want to give you an update on ACCA’s work to date, how we’ve been responding to your feedback, and also look ahead.

But first, we’d like to commend you for the resilience and professionalism you’ve shown over the past year as you’ve played such a central role in guiding businesses and other organisations through these difficult times.

The accountancy profession also continues to play a leading part in the wider challenges facing society; working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, encouraging reskilling, improving public sector financial management, building resilience, encouraging trade, and supporting emerging economies. Thank you to all of you who have engaged with ACCA’s activities in these areas as we endeavour to work for the public good and use our collective influence to drive positive change.

Through conversations, meetings, events and surveys, we’ve heard from many of you about new situations and challenges you’re facing. This has been invaluable in helping us understand your needs so we can innovate and deliver new developments, as we strive to be a supportive and agile partner with your best interests at heart.

New wellbeing and practitioner hubs
Through our Covid-19 hub, launched in March 2020, we brought together resources on a wide range of issues arising from the pandemic, including wellbeing and ways of working. In response to your feedback we’ve created a permanent wellbeing hub on our website.

Members in practice also told us they’d like more targeted support, and so we’ve developed a ‘Practice Connect hub offering advice and ways to allow our SMP community to connect and share. It includes a new ‘Practice Room’ offering the opportunity to have conversations with fellow practitioners.

Your feedback has helped us continually update our offering. You told us you’re adapting your learning, with on-demand online courses having the biggest increase. And many members told us that they want to build on their data, digital and technology skills, so we created a Fintech track for CPD to meet this need. We now have over 3,000 CPD resources to help you unlock the potential of your career.

ACCA Careers, our jobs board, is a key resource. Alongside some 200,000 monthly job postings, it includes a wealth of support for your development including a selection of career videos featuring Dr Rob Yeung, ACCA’s talent doctor, on issues such as ‘how to advance your career’ and ‘how to make a better impression with people’. We’ve also run a programme of practical career support webinars along with a series of virtual careers fairs starting in Ireland and including Singapore, UAE, Romania, Mauritius, Hong Kong SAR, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, UK, India and Central and Eastern Europe, which led to over 20,000 job applications on ACCA Careers. We’re planning to continue these in 2021 so look out for updates.

AB magazine
Our support has also included the upgrading and full digitisation of AB magazine, a long-valued ACCA member benefit. Available in app and web format, and produced in seven geographical versions - Africa, Asean-ANZ, China, Europe/Americas, Ireland, MESA and UK - its content can be tailored for your interests and specialisms.

Building a connected community
We’ve all had to rely increasingly on digital to connect. One benefit is reaching more of you at events such as our virtual AGM and Virtual Public Sector Conference in December 2020. We were delighted to see so many members at both these events, as well as the webinars to meet Mark, with ACCA’s deputy and vice presidents. We’ve aimed over the Covid-19 crisis to provide a range of events connecting members with each other and with experts to help you deal with the challenges you face. We’ve also focused on events designed to build communities of members with similar interests, which we will continue in 2021.

We’re also delighted to have seen the success of the member-organised ACCA Walk, Run, Ride global challenge with ACCA members covering a combined total of more than 46,000km – enough to circumnavigate the Earth with plenty to spare – raising money for the World Health Organisation-led Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Inclusion in action
There will be plenty more digital events in 2021. A recent highlight has been our webinar series on different aspects of our Inclusion in action focus. In one of these, Helen is joined on International Women’s Day (8 March) by Ainslie van Onselen, the chief executive at our strategic alliance partner Chartered Accountants ANZ, where they reflect and share experiences on the careers of women in business. You can view this on demand here.

We also recommend our new Leading Inclusion professional insights report, which contains practical guidance on this key issue, one of ACCA’s core values. And we can promise an exciting programme of cutting-edge professional insights research over the rest of 2021 on issues including careers and Generation Z, sustainability, and the future role of the public sector.

Please stay connected and keep your details up to date to help us help you and the wider profession.

We look forward to continuing to support you to the best of our ability throughout 2021.