Learning from the CPA Australia Independent Review

Some association directors and executives will have followed the unfolding story about CPA Australia quite closely during 2016-17, while others may have only occasionally noted that there was media interest in governance and management arrangements in that organisation.

Now that the Final Report of the CPA Australia Independent Review is available, along with the Board’s response to recommendations in that report, it is timely for us all to reflect on the implications of the review for our own not-for-profit organisations.

Given that CPA Australia had annual revenues of over $180m and 530 professional staff across seven business segments, the scale of the organisation might suggest to the majority of associations (which are considerably smaller) that the findings of the review may not be especially relevant to them.  While some of the findings relate to the special nature of that organisation, I believe many others are noteworthy for all association boards and managers.

I was particularly impressed by the observations and recommendations about issues management across pre-response, response and post-response phases.  The review recommended consideration of the following (see p.44):

  • Develop a framework of the type of issues the board should be prepared for
  • Have issues management practices in place for both board and management
  • Reputation risk and media management considerations should be elevated in Audit and Risk Committee discussions

There are many other important findings and recommendations in the report, and I suggest that association and charity directors all be provided with at least the Executive Summary, both for their background information and as a basis for reviewing any structural arrangements, policies or procedures that may need to be updated.

Call to action

If your Board or Audit and Risk Committee would like a briefing on the review report, please contact me on 0419 347 599 to arrange this.


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