Accounting is About Value

7th May 2024

Nadège Mullier, Executive Manager of INAA, the global association of accountants and auditors, explains all about the organisation’s three-pillar strategy, focusing on attracting new members, retaining the existing ones and increasing business opportunities. At the end, nobody understands the notion of value better than accountants.

INAA is a global association of accountants and auditors, with 140 members in 50 countries. The members are all small to medium-sized firms, which work fully independently. This sets it apart from the big accounting firms, working as a global network under one brand. The original reason for existence was the ability to offer to the underlying clients – the companies the firms do the accounting for – access to trusted accountants in other countries when they wanted to expand their business internationally. Since then, the focus has shifted towards networking, education and sharing of best practices.

Since a couple of years, INAA is facing a similar challenge as many other associations: with the arrival of a new generation of leadership, the value of the association is questioned, resulting in a decrease of membership. This triggered the Board to act and come up with a plan to address the retention of existing members, attracting new members and developing business opportunities.

SMART plan

The new INAA leadership, in place since mid-last year, insisted that the plan should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) and that they should have an active role in rolling out this plan. As a result, the plan was further detailed in a three-pillar strategy and each member of the Board was made accountable for a part of the plan. This is underpinned by detailed tracking and an overall scorecard, which is reviewed during the twice-monthly Board meeting, allowing for agility when needed. And in order to create transparency at Board level, an information sharing platform was put in place, allowing every member to see progress made at a glance.

Maintaining the current membership was the starting point. The value proposal of INAA was re-formulated, a value framework was developed and published, and new activities were developed to increase the overall value offered. One of the most visible actions was the implementation of a talent programme, which was warmly welcomed by a community struggling to attract and retain talent. 

Intensified communication

Communication with the community was also intensified, by rolling out an association app, which is used for communication between the association and the members and between the members themselves. The creation of focus groups, sharing best practices on specific topics (e.g., e-commerce) further stimulates the use of this app and collaboration between the members. 

The “attracting new members” plan has a double focus: increasing the geographical footprint of INAA in line with the shift of economies (e.g., the rise of South Asia) and maintaining the existing footprint by giving priority to countries “at risk” (e.g., where a member is expected to stop its activities for some reason). The recruiting process was reviewed, which – combined with the concentrated efforts of the team – will result in faster onboarding.  

Finally, a strategy was defined to stimulate business development. It focuses on creating more visibility for the INAA community by publications in trade magazines, attending and speaking at trade shows and making it easy for entrepreneurs to find information on how to do business in other countries on the INAA website.

While it is still “early days”, we are seeing the first result of the strategy, which is of course highly stimulating for the entire team, Board members included. For me, there are two key success factors: the fact that the members of the Board are driving the process by assuming responsibility for a part of the plan and the fact that we can track and share results by optimizing the use of digital tools. This makes it truly SMART.

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