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How accountants can change the world

Steve Pipe explains what free resources are available to help accountants make their practices more successful by making the world a better place. 

The notion that ordinary accountants can change the world may sound like a big claim. Perhaps even a ridiculous one. But it is actually true. It is why I get up every morning. And it is why in June 2012 I launched Accountants Changing the World (ACTW) so that everything accountants in practice need to change the world is available to them free of charge. 

By 31 December 2012 it had attracted 105 signatories who collectively had already made a measurable difference to the lives of at least 1,940,491 people (yes, we do know the exact figure, because as good accountants we measure it). 

How accountants can change the world
Of course, it’s not about grand gestures, posturing or pretending to be some kind of superhero. Instead it is about using our professional and business skills to do lots of simple little things. Each of which makes a small (and sometimes not so small) difference. 

It is about doing them really well, with passion, energy and skill. And doing them alongside many other accountants who share our beliefs and passion. So that together, one tiny step at a time, things get a little bit better for the thousands of people and businesses we collectively help. Together all those little things add up. They really do. 

The two levels of involvement
ACTW works on two levels, both of which are entirely free of charge.

Level 1 – Accountants can join the ACTW LinkedIn Group where they can share ideas, insights and experiences with other like-minded accountants. So far over a thousand professionals have joined the group. As a result they are being inspired and enabled to make more of a difference to their clients and to the wider world. 

Level 2 – Some accountants are so inspired by what they learn that they want to become ACTW ‘signatories’ at Being a signatory involves the entire firm making three formal commitments: 

  • commitment 1: tackling economic stagnation: helping businesses create more prosperity, wealth and jobs for themselves and the wider economy – and one of the ways they honour this commitment is by offering every business in their area a free profit improvement review
  • commitment 2: reducing global warming: helping businesses cut their costs by reducing their carbon footprint so that the world is kept safe for future generations – and one of the ways they honour this part of their commitment is by offering every business in their area a free sustainability audit
  • commitment 3: alleviating poverty and suffering: helping businesses to flourish by giving them more energy and purpose by connecting at deeper level with the good causes they support - and one of the ways they honour this part of their commitment is by offering every business in their area a free social responsibility review. 

ACTW provides signatories with all the free resources, free tools, free software and free support they need in order to be able to honour these commitments. For example, signatories receive benchmarking software that allows them to show businesses their strengths and weaknesses and use the insights to develop a profit improvement action plan. 

Should you get involved?
Firms become signatories because it ‘feels right’. In the broadest possible sense, they know it is the right thing to do. However, once they become involved they discover that their involvement also gives them profound emotional and commercial benefits.  

At an emotional level, making a genuine difference in all these ways is joyful, uplifting and inspiring. It gives the entire practice a greater sense of purpose, a greater source of energy, and a greater feeling of happiness. And it brings practitioners, their teams and their families an immense feeling of pride. 

While at a commercial level the benefits to signatory firms include: 

  • building an outstanding reputation as a practice that really cares and really does make a difference
  • receiving more referrals – because of this enhanced reputation
  • getting even more sales leads – because of the free profit improvement reviews, free sustainability audits and free social responsibility reviews
  • attracting high quality clients and team members who are inspired by what they do. 

ACTW also provides a full suite of marketing tools to help signatories achieve all of this. So, in a very real sense, signatory firms also change their own world for the better. 

Case study: How one ACCA member is changing the world
Shaz Nawaz of AA Accountants in Peterborough really is starting to change the world by addressing three of the biggest challenges facing us today, and here’s how… 

  • tackling economic stagnation: despite an intense fear of public speaking, Shaz recently launched an ‘accelerated profits forum’ business club to help local businesses create more wealth, jobs and prosperity for themselves and the region. And according to Shaz the launch event ‘went phenomenally well’
  • reducing global warming: as well as offering a free ‘sustainability audit’, the firm has made a formal pledge to become investors in the environment, one of only 928 businesses in the UK to do so. As Shaz says, ‘Peterborough is on its way to becoming the UK’s leading environmental city so it is only right that we join it’
  • alleviating poverty and suffering: by connecting what the practice does to the causes it believes in via the giving engine, Shaz and his team have already made life a little bit better for 35,998 people in real need. And that figure, which is fully quantified here, includes giving 28,065 people access to clean water for a day, 2,460 people agricultural support for a day, and 1,482 people vitamin supplements for a day. 

AA’s leadership has also already inspired 14 of its clients to connect what they do with the causes that they believe in. And as a result these clients have helped to make life a little bit better for another 107,034 people in need. 

So who says accountants can’t change the world? 

Shaz’s story shows very clearly that by taking one tiny step at a time accountants really can make a difference, really can make things better and, in that way, really can change the world. 

That’s how Shaz is changing the world. How are you going to do it? 

Steve Pipe – founder of the Accountants Changing the World movement


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