Before anything, I hope you all had a good start to the New Year and would like to augur you all the best of health and prosperity looking into the future.
Sadly, 2015 ended with the loss of Kevin Mahoney who, apart from having served the Institute in Council and many Committees, was a true gentleman and a fine person. Kevin was quiet, but people listened to him. He will be remembered. 2015 will also remain a sad one for our CEO Mark Abela who sat for long days by his father before he passes away during the festive season. In such moments we all feel helpless in what only time will heal. I am sure we all weather our own storms but one of the warm feelings of being part of a community like ours is the compassion we find from those around us in such rough times. I hope we shall all move forward with renewed energy, cherishing the fond memories we all have. Life goes on.
You will have probably wondered why we did not organise the customary Christmas gathering to end 2015. This was a reasoned decision after some long deliberation. Our past social events could only host a limited number of members mainly due to budgetary constraints and also the size of venues available. Understandably, the ‘first come first served’ policy left many members disappointed and we felt we should address this issue by finding a sustainable solution. You will probably appreciate that organising a social event for around 2500 members requires some serious planning and in the last quarter of 2015, we had so many things going on that we could not dedicate the required focus, apart from not finding adequate winter venues that can accommodate all our crowd of members. On this footing we decided to skip the winter event but determined to organize our coming summer BBQ with the underlined objective of welcoming all members. I look forward to hosting you then.
I will now give you some updates of the work we are doing within the echelons of the Institute. The Institute plays a significant role in the economic fabric, not only by being the voice of the language which is the grammar of business, but also by being the promoter, educator and gatekeeper of high technical and ethical standards. The Institute has over the years become the hallmark of the largest profession in Malta providing in-house technical and consultative material to its esteemed members and also to Government towards policy and legislation. We have to give credit to the executive team at the Institute and to the intellect, foresight and professionalism afforded voluntarily by our members, affording their personal time working in Council or contributing positively towards projects ably owned and propelled by the various subcommittees. Just to put this in perspective, since the 2014 AGM, the voluntary contribution of members of the Institute are estimated to be over 1100 man-hours. I am sure we should all be grateful to all contributors. The strength of the Institute is reflective of the support of its members.
You may have been noticing some subtle changes in the style and methods of our communications. We have engaged more in the social media and are using smart tools that should help us reach broader and deeper into our circles of stakeholders, whether they are members, their clients or service providers, financial institutions, or even school leavers exploring career paths. Studies on social media strongly suggest that professionals and business people should be evermore present because of the paradigm shift in the way people in general stay in touch, communicate and build lasting relationships.
“since the 2014 AGM, the voluntary contribution of members of the Institute are estimated to be over 1100 man-hours.”
We have planned campaigns and messages that address the different interests. The underlying raison d’etre is that somewhere behind every transaction in the everyday lives of people, there is most probably the input of an accountant, and it is the Institute that is the very engineering and voice of the accountancy profession. Hence the Institute merits a stronger presence within the vocabulary of our society as it is part of what keeps the equilibrium, credibility and trust in our home and in macroeconomics.
Just to mention a few performance indicators, we have seen a growth rate of 38% in Facebook followers in less than two months with a reach of 163k people. In the preceding three months, reach was recorded at 37k. Interestingly, in our communications survey we carried out in November 2015, some 60% of the respondents said that they are not familiar with the Institute’s presence on Facebook, while 67% said they were not following MIA’s page. We have also set up our Twitter page from scratch and it is proving to be popular with 7k impressions over its 50 day lifetime. We have also engaged more in MIA’s existing LinkedIn’s page. Since November 2015, there has been a jump of 23% in the Institute’s LinkedIn friends. It is worth mentioning that in the communications survey mentioned above, 91% of the respondents admitted that they were not followers of our LinkedIn page.
I share my excitement about the eNews we sent the 1st edition of to all 2621 members, with a completely fresh look and content. We had an extremely good open rate of 31.21% considering that there may have been some members who received the newsletter in their spam or junk folder (if you have not noticed the newsletter I encourage you to check that folder and mark the email as ‘safe’). Our target is to get you varied content which we research from news, and business and other professional journals, and to get more of you to follow us and also share with your clients. The underlying reasoning is that this is one way of getting more visibility among your own stakeholders. That will in turn give you higher respect and status. We owe it to you.
Before concluding this address, I outline some technical initiatives which you are already probably aware of. As mentioned in previous issues the Institute was actively involved in the drafting of the amendments to the companies act and the new GAPSME rules, emanating from the new accounting directive. We have organised a number of seminars, with others in the pipeline. We are currently working on guidance which will be issued to our members and we are also meeting different stakeholders to make sure they are aware of the new reporting requirements. Our ultimate aim is to ensure that all stakeholders understand and recognise the opportunities presented by the new directive.
Our commitment also extends to the future generation of accountants and auditors. The Master in Accountancy students at the University of Malta organised their Annual Conference in December 2015, this year focusing on the new GAPSME rules. The Institute supported the conference and I was honoured to address the students together with Professor Edward Scicluna, Minister for Finance and Mr Peter J. Baldacchino, Head of the University’s Accountancy Department.
The Institute remains actively involved in the transposition of the new audit directive by being participating in the transposition working group led by the Accountancy Board, whose task is to give advice on effective transposition of the directive.
Another major project concerns the new and revised Auditor Reporting standards, containing significant reforms to the layout and wording of auditor’s reports, issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).
Another set of technical guidance issued to members concerns the verification of financial and non-financial information other than the statutory audit. This technical release makes reference to a number of requests requiring a practitioner’s verification of financial or non-financial information. These verifications are requested by a number of different parties including public entities and banks. Practitioners should refrain from simply signing a one or two sentence “certification” but should always refer to the IAASB framework to identify the applicable standard and therefore the most appropriate form of reporting.
I wish you great things both in your profession, business and personal lives. Our CEO and his technical and administrative team members, supporting the Council, Officers and Committees also merit special mention especially because most of their solid work is silent, lest significant. I thank them.