Back in early October AIA President, Les Bradley provided members with an insightful update on AIA developments which had occurred during the course of 2017. The last few months however have been rather eventful for our President, so we took the opportunity to catch up with Mr Bradley in late December as he attended the final AIA Council Meeting of 2017 to ask him for his reflections on an eventful 2017, and his aspirations for the new year ahead.
During the interview Mr Bradley reflects on a year which has seen him attend CPD events in London, Dublin and Beijing to name only a few, open a new AIA UK Beijing Representative Office and accept the honourary designation of professor from Lixin University in China. He then talks about his aspirations for what we anticipate to be a highly successful 90th anniversary year in 2018.
Q. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. It’s been a quite an eventful year for both you and the AIA. What has been the highlight of 2017?
It is a very difficult question to answer as there have been so many positives throughout the year. From a personal viewpoint I would have to say it is the continued loyal support I have received and continue to receive from the council, secretariat and AIA employees. This is the fifth year of my tenure as AIA President and the resolve and commitment shown by everyone involved in the association never ceases to amaze and inspire me in my role.
Q. 2017 saw you take two extended business trips to Asia. Have they been productive?
Without a doubt. Getting to meet and greet overseas members, students, universities and graduates was an absolute pleasure and always a worthwhile undertaking. I take great pleasure in speaking with our members and students around the globe; gaining feedback, discussing opportunities and much more besides.
Some other highlights of the trips were the opening of the new AIA UK representative Beijing office, which allows us to further build our presence and member service offering. The new office is manned full-time and provides a great venue for member meetings and discussion forums.
Another highlight of the trip was attending the AIA - Metro Education Graduation Ceremony in Shanghai. A whole host of AIA Students were in attendance for their graduation along with family members to celebrate the completion of their AIA exams.The event was also a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the collaboration between AIA, Metro Education and Lixin University. Over the 20 years we have expanded our network throughout China in cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing to name only a few. It is truly remarkable to think how many outstanding international accountants have been trained since we moved into the Chinese market.
Q. And we must not forget your honorary professorship. How does it feel to become a professor?
I am extremely proud to have been awarded this professorship as recognition of my services to the AIA in combination with my business career. I have built my entire career on hard work and dedication to my chosen profession, and it is truly humbling to reap the dividends in the form of not only this professorship in Accounting and Finance, but also as AIA President and Chairman of the board.
Q. In between your international travel you have also taken time to visit and meet members at a number of UK CPD events. How did you find the events?
Travelling to CPD events is a real bonus as I get to meet our highly dedicated members, students and speakers.In 2017 I managed to travel to conferences in Nottingham, London and Dublin, listening to some really insightful presentations on topics such as making tax digital and the impending GDPR.
In addition to the CPD events, I also had the privilege of hosting the AIA President’s Dinner & Awards which took place at Plaisterers’ Hall in October. The evening was a real celebration of success, recognising excellence in the field of Accountancy, with awards going to Sir Winfried Bischoff, AccountingWeb, West Yorkshire Community Accounting Services (WYCAS) and AMLCC to name only a few. The dinner is always a highlight of the AIA annual calendar as it provides us with the opportunity to meet and network with members and distinguished industry professionals in a social environment and so it proved once again in October!
2018 is a milestone year for the AIA as we celebrate our 90th anniversary,and as such I look forward to once again attending a number of UK CPD events, and hosting a 90th anniversary celebration dinner alongside our members, students and distinguished guests.
Q. As you mentioned 2018 is a milestone for AIA, turning the grand old age of 90. What are your aspirations for the year ahead?
As I have mentioned already I am very excited about our 90th year; although I have had to already explain to some members and students it is not my 90th year!
Joking aside we have a very busy year ahead with a host of CPD and celebratory events planned globally throughout the year, which include;
- UK anniversary dinner in October
- Anniversary dinners planned for Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai
- Recipricol celebration with Lixin University, Shanghai which is also coincidently celebrating its 90th year.
Aside from our annual CPD and celebratory events, I look forward to once again travelling internationally, so I can meet and chat with members, students, partners and prospective members. As I have mentioned on many occassions this is truly one of the most pleasing parts of my role as President, getting to promote the fantastic work AIA are doing globally and emphasising all of the great benefits for accountants to be part of our great association.
I envisage this endeavour and hard work will see our China members reaping the benefits of having a dedicated UK representative Beijing office, which opened in 2017. I also feel that the strong collaboration we have shared with Metro Education over the past twenty years will show as we advance further in the Shanghai region.
Q. Do AIA have any plans for further increasing recognition in 2018?
As a forward thinking, progressive and diverse membership body which supports and promotes the creation of world class accountants, we never rest on our laurels. In order to help achieve our objectives we are continually striving to enhance our service and recognition offering to members and students alike, as we firmly believe in the importance of being a member of recognised bodies within the UK.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce that as part of our continuing effort to increase the international recognition for our members we are engaging in an application for membership of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). We will be keeping all members and students up to date as our application progresses over the coming months (for further information go to: www.aiaworldwide.com/ifac-application).
We also continue to invest heavily in our internal processes in order to maintain and surpass the requirements of regulators, such as FRC, Ofqual and IAASA.
Q. A new state-of-the-art database & website are also due to arrive in 2018. How do you think this will benefit members and students?
The new database and website will look to deliver a vastly improved user experience with easier navigation and functionality, which will help to facilitate two-way communication between AIA and members. The website will become a user-friendly platform for members and students; providing easy access to study support, market intelligence and much more....
This combined with the the introduction of new payment methods, including Amex, PayPal and Direct Debit last year further emphasises AIA’s commitment to providing members with the highest levels of personalised service as we continually strive for excellence in everything that we do.
Thank you to Mr Bradley for sharing his thoughts and aspirations for the AIA. We all now look forward to another busy and successful year.