IAFA 2022

IAFA 2022 winners

On 29 June, The Accountant and International Accounting Bulletin teams held the International Accountancy Forum and Awards (IAFA) at the Waldorf Hilton in London. Following an engaging day at which we heard from accountancy experts about all the latest trends in the industry we presented our prestigious awards at a gala dinner. Katherine Dumbell reports

Our judges this year were: Chris Arnold, Director, International Federation of Accountants; Sue Almond, Head of Assurance at Grant Thornton International; James Mendelssohn, Director Global Alliance Advisory Services; and Randy Johnston, Executive Vice President, K2 Enterprises.

We also had the support of three award sponsors this year: Circit, a leading provider of audit confirmations; Ignition, the world’s first client engagement and commerce platform for professional services businesses; and Wolters Kluwer, a global information, software and consultancy provider specialising in tax and accounting. We would like to say a big thank you for all your support.

Network of the Year: HLB

Highly Commended nomination: Moore Global

Winner: HLB

The judges were impressed by what this network provides to its member firms, strong growth, and US recruitment.

HLB closed FY21 with an astonishing 25% growth with a network combined revenue of $4.08bn. It managed strong growth across all service lines, though growth in advisory services of 34% was especially important to this network and now represents 28% of total revenue.

Rising Star Network: ETL

ETL demonstrated strong growth in new countries, and between 2016 and 2021, saw a revenue growth of 265% from €650m to €1,725m (US$ 2,059m).

Association of the Year: PrimeGlobal

Highly commended: Praxity

Winner: PrimeGlobal

PrimeGlobal demonstrated a number of new initiatives including a rebrand. This rebrand saw the association recognise the value of advisory and consultancy services. The association also ended the history of membership composition being exclusively accountancy and tax firms.

Rising Star Association: LEA GLobal

LEA Global has persevered following a very difficult time for its association, following an existential crisis in which it lost a number of sizeable firms, the board of directors recognised that it needed a new vision, strategy and leadership.

Since then, LEA has gone through a transformation, engaging more with member firms, investing in IT and developed several new programmes which has strengthened regional training opportunities and expanded talent exchange initiatives.

Digital Innovation of the Year: Deloitte

Deloitte’s Omnia ESG Module seamlessly brings together four key phases of the ESG assurance process in a completely new way. Cutting through the confusion of competing frameworks and differing regulations, auditors can evaluate disclosures using widely accepted ESG standards faster and easier than ever before.

Well-being Initiative of the Year: Russell Bedford

Russell Bedford has greatly supported its members over the past year which has been reflected in member feedback. At the start of the pandemic, this network brought in an external specialist to help deliver online health and wellbeing resources for its members, monthly webinars on topics such as coping with stress and looking after oneself both physically and mentally.

DEI Initiative of the Year: Allinial Global

Allinial Global has shown its commitment to diversity and inclusion through engagement with its member firms. Leading from the top with 62% of leadership positions held by women, this association has supported its member firms by delivering webinars on how member firms can attract and develop diverse talent.

Professional Body of the Year: AICPA and CIMA

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants combines professional body combines expertise from the management and public accounting disciplines. Today, it is involved in development discussions on global framework for sustainability disclosure standards and has played an active role in the merger of the Integrated Reporting Council and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board to create the Value Reporting Foundation and formation of the ISSB.

Sustainability Initiative of the Year: Thrive Accountants

Last year, Thrive joined the Million Tree Pledge. The overarching aim of the initiative, other than the environmental benefits, was to underpin their mission in demonstrating that a purpose beyond profit, can drive greater profits in business. In that way, a customer or candidate is more likely to choose to work with a business that supports the greater good, than a business that exists for profit alone.

Communications Campaign of the Year: ACCA

Highly commended: CPA Ireland

Winner: ACCA

ACCA has wide-ranging campaigns on issues that matter to many stakeholders, such as rethinking sustainable businesses by positioning professional accountants as vital to driving business change and equipping its members with practical insights, tools, and learning so they can take action to lead change.

Accountancy Software of the Year: Practice Ignition

Highly commended: Inflo

Winner: Practice Ignition

Practice Ignition automates manual business processes involved with establishing and maintaining client relationships via a single platform. Used by over 4,000 accounting and bookkeeping firms globally, Practice Ignition has helped many practices transform their business, with a 5-star rating on both the Xero App marketplace and Intuit QuickBooks Apps community.

Cloud Initiative of the Year: Inflo

Highly commended: Xledger

Winner: Inflo

The winner’s cloud-based offering provided to customers a more efficient and effective alternative to traditional audit bank confirmations and enables substantive audit data analytics (SADAs) of cash balances based on third-party data.

User Experience of the Year: Inflo

Highly commended: Syft

Winner: Inflo

Picking up its second award, Inflo offers a holistic approach to the user experience, supporting the change management challenges of digitalisation and offering a comprehensive package of user support.

Personality of the Year: Sue Almond

The roots of Sue Almond’s professional career were grounded in Grant Thornton – where from qualifying, she progressed through the ranks over a 20-year period, developing her audit expertise, to head the firm’s UK practice.

Sue joined Kreston in 2008 as the Director of Quality & Professional Standards and was instrumental in the successful in developing the global quality monitoring and inspection regime, establishing global independence policies and gaining admission to the Forum of Firms.

Her next career progression saw her move to Head the ACCA’s Global External Affairs, to lead the profession in demonstrating to policy makers, employers, and the public, the value that professional accountants bring to society. Sue was the ACCA’s lead external representative on a range of technical accounting matters, especially financial reporting and auditing and assurance.

In 2018, she headed back to Grant Thornton, returning first to again Lead the UK Audit & Assurance Team before advancing to GT’s Global Head of Assurance.

To mark her retirement from public practice last year, this is the perfect year to recognise her contribution to the global audit profession with the Personality of the Year Award.

However, Sue does not rest. She continues to influence the global profession through her appointment to the Board of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), the independent standard-setting body that serves the public interest by setting high-quality international standards for auditing, quality control, review and other assurance services.

And of course, Sue has served as a judge in the 2022 IAFA Awards, for which we are all most thankful.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Clive Viegas Bennett

A graduate of Oxford University, Clive was immediately fast-tracked into the Civil Service to work with Select Committees in the House of Commons, with perhaps a most notable role whilst with the Environmental Select Committee, leading a major investigation into nuclear waste, particularly, at Sellafield, which ultimately led to a change in government policy.

Clive excelled in his international leadership role at MGI Global and set about implementing a strategy to enhance benefits to member firms, strengthen the global brand, and establish effective and internationally credible quality assurance systems. Following the path of Kreston, MGI progressed from an association to a network and was admitted to the Forum of Firms.

Successful mergers have been a rare feature within the international alliance sector. There are so many obstacles to overcome, such as geographical overlaps, governance issues and differing financial positions, but in 2019 Clive successfully merged CPA Associates International into MGI Worldwide, doubling the network’s size, profile, capability and coverage.

Clive retired last year, ending a multi-faceted career with notable successes at ever stage – whether with the UK Government, the shipping industry, strategic coaching, executive recruitment or international accounting associations and networks. Many will recall Clive’s outstanding presentation at the 2021 Forum on handling mental health issues in accountancy practices.

Clive has had a true lifetime of achievement, and is worthy of this award.