There is much media and now scrutiny being applied to professional associations. There have been many questions raised about when and how meetings are held; about the levels of remuneration and specifically about the governance and directors.
These are all important areas when wanting to understand whether the practices that are being undertaken are not only aligned to the Corporations Act, but within legal guidelines and possibly even more important the member expectations for each professional association.
The purpose of the Corporations Act is that it is the principal legislation for regulating companies in Australia. It entails such matters as the operation of companies, the structure, how the meetings are conducted (which is often in conjunction with a constitution if this has been adopted by the company). Some professional associations have constitutions that are outlined in conjunction with the Corporations Act.
So, What Does This Mean to You?
The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Ltd is a member based, professional association formed as a company limited by guarantee.
For tax purposes we are a not-for-profit company (or non-profit company), meaning we are taxable, but due to the principle of mutuality all our member related activity is neither assessable nor taxable.
ICB is a Recognised BAS Agent Association: The ICB was advised Tuesday 18 May 2010, that the Tax Practitioner Board (TPB) has recognised ICB under the Tax Agent Services Laws.
To be a Recognised Association the TPB had to be satisfied that:
- ICB was properly managed and its internal rules enforced
- ICB has professional and ethical standards including:
- 15 hours of continuing education required
- members are of good fame, integrity and character
- if in practice then the member has Professional Indemnity Insurance
- ICB has a satisfactory complaints handling and notifying process
- ICB is able to pay its debts as and when they fall due
There are other areas of the law and other requirements. The Tax Agent Services law allows the board to recognise associations as being representative of the agents which are now needing to be regulated.
By being a Recognised BAS Agent Association (RBAA), voting members of ICB are now recognised for their added commitment to be creditable and professional in the conduct of their business. At the time of registration, a voting member is only required to have 1000 hours relevant experience in the last 3 years (compared to 1400 hours for those not voting members of a RBAA).
The only other real consequence of being an RBAA is that the new laws more formally allow the TPB to work a little more closely with us in the recognition of education and training.
ICB is governed by a number of documents that are all available to you via the website
ICB provides information to its members constantly in a number of forms
The annual members meeting was pre-advised at 2017 Members Meeting webpage including the notice of the members meeting webinar.
Best Practice Approach for Associations
There is a certain set of legal standards that should be followed in running a professional association. The purpose of this is to provide you with the ability to be involved or to collaborate; gain transparency of what is happening within the association and know that it is being delivered with professional integrity.
A constructive way to view this is through “best practice” mentality. What would you expect and want from the association that you are part of?
Some of the most common themes in many professional associations cover some basic fundamentals across the board.
- Code of Ethics
- Continuous Development
- Adding Value
The purpose of the Code of Ethics is to present a guideline for behaving ethically, and taking responsibility for the profession. It is committing to achieving the best possible outcomes in delivery of services, and having processes in place that raise awareness in areas that will directly and indirectly impact you.
When thinking about best practices, it is to help you understand the values and conduct of the association; that it includes open and honest engagements with you – how effective such things as risk management are being upheld and whether it fulfils in protecting public interest; your interest.
The big focus on transparency is about you gaining this information easily, regularly and in a way that makes sense to you.
It is the professional association taking action to stay ahead, remain accountable, and provide ongoing support and value to its members. It is providing education to help you gain the most from being a member.
The more transparent, the more likely you are to feel that you are being heard and supported, and want to gain more from the professional association.
One of the most apparent and important factors to consider is the attitude and willingness to actively engage that provides the best transparency of all.
Members Involved in ICB
Members have open access to the team, management and directors of ICB. Formally this occurs through the Network meetings (a report is provided to ICB from each facilitator), Members' meetings, webinars, and Advisory Board (a representative group of members interacting with the ICB team).
Where to From Here?
The recent events with CPA Australia have given rise to increased publicity and scrutiny on professional associations. The Inspector General of Taxation, Members of Parliament, The ACNC, the ATO and the Tax Practitioners Board have all begun to raise their level of observation and enquiry on the behaviour of Associations.
The Members agreed with the Directors at the recent members meeting for a review of Governance over ICB, including consideration of appointment of further Directors.
We believe ICB provides the transparency in what it does, has done, and what it plans to do.
If there is something you believe ICB could do to enhance its transparency or governance, please email our executive director at email@example.com.
Updated: 29th August, 2017