15 December 2017

In my earliest communications with you I conveyed the Board’s dedication to improving member engagement. As a result of this commitment, in the last 11 weeks we have engaged in more than 100 meetings and discussions with members across Australia and our global network including all Divisional Councils.   

In these discussions we have been actively encouraging members to share their views on CPA Australia’s performance and its future direction.

Without doubt members are looking for the organisation to address the governance issues that have been identified. However, overwhelmingly the feedback from members is that they are looking to move forward and work collaboratively with the new Board in bringing about the necessary change. 

We have been heartened by the response but understand there is still much work to do.

We have also commenced meeting directly with many of our key external stakeholders to establish strong professional relationships and to explain to them the changes underway at CPA Australia. 

We would like to provide you with an update on a number of issues:

  1. Response to the Independent Review Final Report
  2. Corporate Strategy Review
  3. Independent Review Implementation Committee
  4. Termination payment of the previous CEO
  5. CPA Australia Advice
  6. CEO Recruitment
  7. Cooperation agreement between CPA Australia and AHRI

1. Response to the Independent Review Final Report

On 30 November the Independent Review Panel delivered its final report. Thank you to all members who participated in the review and to the Panel chair, Ian McPhee and his fellow panellists Su McCluskey, Maryjane Crabtree and expert advisor Professor Bob Baxt for their expertise and experience. Thank you also to the Nous Group that provided secretariat support. 

The Independent Review has delivered a comprehensive framework for CPA Australia to enhance its governance arrangements and aspects of operations to make the changes required to better meet the needs of our membership.

The Board has undertaken a rigorous review of the final report and is supportive of the recommendations overall and has identified some that may require further consultation. 

We have provided commentary against each of the Final Report’s recommendations. The full list of recommendations with the Board’s response can be viewed here

Many of the recommendations will require changes to CPA Australia’s Constitution, By-Laws and Charters. Constitutional changes will be put to members at the AGM on 22 May in Melbourne.

CPA Australia is developing an issues paper that will set out each of these changes in detail. This will be available to members in early February.

We will consult with members about the proposed changes via meetings and online forums throughout February and March.

In April, finalised motions relating to Constitutional changes will be provided to members in the Notice of Meeting.

Members will then make a determination on the motions at the AGM.

Once finalised, the final costs associated with the Independent Review will be included in the 2018 annual report.

2. Corporate Strategy Review

As well as member input into proposed constitutional changes, we also want member input into the development of our new corporate strategy including views on member engagement. 

Divisional Presidents will be participating in a strategy workshop in January and in February and March we will be seeking input from all Divisional and Branch Councils.

All members will have the opportunity to input into the proposed constitutional changes and the development of the corporate strategy through meetings and online forums. We will provide you with detail of the consultation program early in the new year.

The corporate strategy will be informed by data and analysis. The member engagement survey is currently underway and we have received a good response to date. If you have not completed the survey please take the time to do so by this Sunday 17 December. Your views are important and we want all members to be represented in the final results. 

3. Independent Review Implementation Committee

As advised in October, the Board has established an Independent Review Implementation Committee. The Committee consists of:

  • Peter Wilson AM, President and Chairman of the Board
  • Merran Kelsall, Deputy President
  • Chin Aik Wong, Deputy President
  • Dale Pinto, President-elect 2018 WA Division 
  • Shabnam Amirbeaggi, President-elect 2018 NSW Division
  • Ivan Au, President Greater China Division

Part of its responsibilities will be to ensure members receive transparent communication in relation to the implementation of the Independent Review recommendations. 

4. Termination payment of the previous CEO

Directors have been fortunate to meet with many members since commencing our terms. The issue most consistently raised with us is the termination payment of the previous CEO. The Board has heard and appreciates member frustration.

The Board has previously been advised that there is no ability to clawback the termination payment. The Board also noted the Independent Review Final Report which stated “CPA Australia has no ability to recover the former CEO’s termination payment.” 

Since the delivery of the final report, new directors have made our own legal inquiries. The new directors are confident that CPA Australia is unable to recover the payment. The Board has taken advice from Queen’s Counsel.

What we can change is the contract for the next CEO. The Board supports the Independent Review’s recommendation that CEO notice periods should be conservative and remuneration should be independently benchmarked against similar member-based organisations. The Board will ensure this is reflected in contract negotiations in our recruitment for a new CEO.

5. CPA Australia Advice

Mr Graeme Wade and Ms Michele Dolin will resign from the CPA Australia Advice Board on 31 December 2017. Current independent director, Ms Suzanne Haddan will become chair of CPA Australia Advice effective 1 January 2018. Mr Arun Nangia will join the Board of CPA Australia Advice next week and an additional director is under consideration for appointment to this board from 1 January 2018. 

The Board agrees with the Independent Review’s recommendation that CPA Australia carry out a comprehensive post-implementation evaluation of CPA Australia Advice. This will take place in 2018.

6. CEO Recruitment

The CEO role has been advertised and has received strong interest. Spencer Stuart, the executive search firm, will provide the Board with a long list of candidates before the end of the year and we are on track to make an appointment following interviews in the new year.

7. Cooperation agreement between CPA Australia and AHRI

The new Board is committed to dealing with member questions and concerns quickly and openly. 

This week I spoke to the Australian Financial Review about suggestions that my role as Chair of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) may present a compromise or conflict with my role at CPA Australia. 

I submitted my application to the CPA Australia Board in July 2017, including information about my role at AHRI and declaring the cooperation arrangement that existed between AHRI and CPA Australia.

The arrangement, outlined on the CPA website, dates back to November 2015 when CEOs of AHRI and CPA Australia agreed to work together on professional development, research, events and magazine content. There was no financial component.

I commenced my term on CPA Australia’s Board on 1 October. Following this both organisations confirmed that the agreement between AHRI and CPA Australia had ceased.

There is a great deal of work currently underway to take our organisation forward and the Board is committed to the future success of CPA Australia.

The Board wishes you all the best for the festive season and a happy and successful 2018. 

Peter Wilson AM FCPA
For the CPA Australia Board of Directors