ACCA president Jenny Gu FCCA is CEO at Richemont China

Certain years jump out from the history books and remain etched in the memory forever. They stick in the mind for good reasons or bad. 2020 is one of those that will never to be forgotten.

The pandemic has been a life-changing, era-defining episode. It ranks among a tiny few events that have affected pretty much every human being on the planet.

Yet as I look back on the traumatic past few months, I must say that I find cause for hope and even joy amid the trouble and tragedy.

It’s true to say that my year as ACCA president didn’t turn out exactly as planned. I have enjoyed the privilege of representing members and promoting our profession at events all over the world – from Singapore to Sydney, from Kuala Lumpur to Kigali. Yet almost all have been online occasions, hosted at virtual venues.

Of course, this has been a pity in many respects. We have all missed meeting up face to face, and we have been deprived of those personal connections that webcams and digital platforms simply can’t capture.

Apart – and together

But my response is this: yes, Covid-19 has torn us apart but it has also thrown us together. First of all, because we have made a virtue of building up our digital skills, enabling us to reach many more people than we could have done in real life. The attendance at ACCA’s online events has risen steadily, not fallen away.

I have also experienced incredibly warm reactions for ACCA’s outreach from digital audiences all over the world, and that has been thrilling. The admiration and respect that people feel for ACCA has by no means cooled with separation.

Mostly, I feel joy because I have seen the way our people have responded to a terrible situation with resilience, compassion and skill.

I know that there are businesses and public bodies all over the world who give thanks for the wise counsel and steady advice of ACCA accountants. Our people have proved their status as true leaders in commerce and in public life, and the demands of Covid-19 have brought that into focus.

I am so proud of everything our members have done to serve the public good. I have been so proud to serve as your president. I will cherish the honour and remember this year forever.

This column will be written next month by ACCA’s new president, the wonderful Mark Millar, who has served as my deputy for the past 12 months.

I know that he will do a brilliant job as figurehead of the greatest professional body in the world. His genial manner, rich fund of stories and solid good sense will delight audiences all over the world, and he will serve ACCA as a true and faithful president. Mark has my best wishes and fondest congratulations as he embarks on what I am certain will be a great year.

Thanks to him – and to all of you.