Liz Fisher, journalist

ACCA has announced the winner of the Canada and US Advocacy Awards. These awards recognise members who have acted as powerful advocates for ACCA and the accountancy profession, and made a real difference in their workplace and their communities, including working to nurture and encourage the next generation of talent.

Greg Powell FCCA, principal at The CFO Centre in Canada, which supports small and growing businesses that don’t yet need a full-time CFO but value the guidance a qualified accountant can bring, and Thomas Finn FCCA, CFO at Rhodian Group in Chicago, have donated many hours of their time to support ACCA’s work and promote the qualification and accountancy as a career.

‘Participating in events, webinars and collaborating on reports has been an incredibly rewarding experience’

In both cases, their work has been invaluable in raising the profile of the ACCA qualification in a region where it is less well known. Both chose the qualification for its flexibility and international reach.

‘I thought it could open doors for me, and it has,’ says Greg. ‘It’s not a particularly common qualification in Canada but the letters after my name have sparked questions. It adds credibility.’

Rewarding experience

In recent years, Greg has regularly participated in events hosted by ACCA’s Policy and Insights team, providing a much-needed Canadian perspective to global discussions and reports, and always promoting the ACCA as a brand. ‘Participating in speaking events, webinars and collaborating on reports has been an incredibly rewarding experience,’ he says. ‘I’ve found great joy in sharing my knowledge and insights, as well as learning from the experiences of others.’

‘I love the energy of giving back; it gives me a real sense of satisfaction’

The accounting profession, he says, should never be underestimated. ‘As ACCA members, we play a pivotal role in disseminating critical information, promoting best practices, and inspiring the next generation of accountants to excel. It is our responsibility to foster a culture of transparency, integrity and accountability within the profession, ensuring that the highest ethical standards are upheld.’

Receiving the Advocacy Award, Greg says, has left him feeling honoured and humbled. ‘I was flattered to be asked to contribute to something that I love to do,’ he says. ‘I love the energy of giving back; it gives me a real sense of satisfaction.’

Paying it forward

Thomas agrees. ‘I was brought up to give back where you can, so I’ve always felt advocacy was important and have always been involved in it,’ he says. ‘I’ve had a good journey with ACCA and want to pay it forward.’

He chose the qualification because of its flexibility, the broad syllabus that went beyond traditional accounting and finance, and its global mobility. It is not a decision he has ever regretted.

‘The impact of ACCA on my life has been very positive and as well as a well-respected qualification, it has provided a networking platform with a truly worldwide reach,’ Thomas says. ‘When people work with ACCAs they see the difference in our qualification. The global perspective is very important.’

As deputy chair of ACCA’s Chicago Chapter, Thomas has been closely involved with organising CPD, CPE and networking events, and regularly takes part in roundtables and discussions with Professional Insights teams. ‘Being an advocate is easy when the product that ACCA offers – a well-rounded, flexible, globally recognised accountancy qualification – aligns with your own professional and personal beliefs,’ he says.

‘It’s very important that we speak up and say clearly that sustainability makes economic sense’

Recently, Thomas acted as moderator in an ACCA webinar panel discussion on how future finance professionals can grow their career in environmental, social and governance (ESG) and sustainability. It’s a topic that is particularly close to his heart: ‘ACCA has promoted ESG very proactively, even when it wasn’t one of the go-to topics, and I’m very proud of that.

‘The world is changing and it’s important to me that accountancy takes a leadership role. CFOs are people with a seat at the table. We have a responsibility to say that ESG policies makes sense. We all need to get the best out of the resources we have, so it’s very important that accountants speak up and say clearly that sustainability makes economic sense.’

Thomas’s own experiences as an advocate have been extremely positive. ‘You get more out of advocacy in terms of meeting new people, growing your network and learning about new areas than you expend in time and effort. It’s certainly something I would encourage any ACCA member to consider.’

Dedication and engagement

Jillian Couse, head of ACCA North America, said: ‘We are incredibly grateful for the support of Greg and Thomas, our advocacy winners this year. Their dedication to the profession and continued engagement has truly impacted our membership and we’re delighted to celebrate them.

‘Through sharing their expertise at thought leadership events and speaking engagements with various stakeholders, they’ve highlighted areas including ethics, sustainability and the importance of mentoring the next generation of finance professionals.

‘It’s important that we recognise the achievements of our talented members, and we are thrilled to showcase their efforts through our Advocate of the Year award.’