ACA Financial Training

Greg Isaac , 15 December 2016

Greg Isaac provides an overview of the recent financial training program undertaken by all ACA elected members.

The elected office bearers of the ACA throughout Australia underwent financial training at the end of 2016. This was to fulfil the requirement that all office bearers (elected committee members) of the ACA undertake a minimum of 6 hours financial training.

Why is the training required?

There are a number of reasons for this requirement:

  • Section 154D(1) of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) (2009) Act requires each officer (elected office bearer) with financial management duties to undertake approved training within 6 months of holding office. 
  • It makes good sense for the best possible organisation and performance of the ACA
  • In order to be recognised as the body representing the interests of the employers in the negotiations of the Architects Award and other industrial matters, the ACA has to be registered under the Fair Work Act
  • This enables the ACA under its constitution: 
    – To act as an organisation of employers under the industrial laws of the Commonwealth (cl 4T)
    – To institute, prosecute, defend or intervene in any applications, suits or proceedings before any Court or industrial tribunal or body constituted under the laws of the Commonwealth or of the States or any of them as may be deemed necessary or expedient in the interests of the Association or its members; (cl 4U)The AC    

The ACA is the ONLY organisation in the country with these rights and abilities.

What was included in the training?

The comprehensive training was conducted over a three-session webinar program, and included the following

Responsibilities as a Registered Organisation in Finance and Governance

1. The relevant Act and Regulations

  • Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Commonwealth)
  • Fair Work Commission (previously Fair Work Australia)
  • Compliance

2. Training is required (not optional) within 6 months of election to the Registered Organisation (RO) and is valid for 3 years

3. Corporate Governance

  • Financial viability, aware of duties, have necessary skills

4. Incorporation

  • The ACA, as an RO, is a separate entity that can enter contracts, with certain legal liability protections for members

5. Board/Officer Bearers of the RO

  • Act collectively; decisions are collective decisions
  • Members of the association adopt the decision
  • Act for members, in the interest of members to protect assets of the RO, advance the entity, set and pursue the objectives and strategy
  • To steer and be reasonable, avoid conflict of interest, make sound and well measured decisions, develop the culture of the RO.

6. Be aware of and comply with legislative sources

  • Fair Work Act 2009 and Fair Work Regulation 2009
  • Corporations Act 2001
  • ACA Rules
  • Common Law and Case Law

7. Effective financial management

8. ACA organisation

  • Availability of ACA rules/constitution to members
  • Review frequency of constitution, current challenges, roles

9. Office bearer roles

  • President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary (for each ACA Branch)
  • Defined duties and responsibilities

10. Act with care and diligence, reasonably, with judgement in good faith, with no material personal interest, be well informed, and without abuse information to cause detriment.

11. There are consequences of beaching the Fair Work Act/Regulation with civil penalties and Fair Work Commission actions applicable.

12. Conflict of Interest

  • Disclosure of material personal interest
  • Whether real, apparent or potential, must disclose to members
Financial Management

1. Establish and maintain a Strategic Plan and Finance Plan (to monitor, control, improve, and gauge success). Financial reporting must be understood by ACA Officer Bearers in relation to:

  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Profit and loss
  • Balance sheet (assets, liabilities, owner’s equity)
  • Cashflow
  • Business case analysis

2. Must have an accounting system that:

  • Records transactions (mostly ACA subscriptions)
  • Analyses cashflow
  • Compares ACA performance from year to year

3. Financial Policies

  • Controls in relation to expenditure of member funds
  • Limits of authority of officers (eg credit card use)
  • Record keeping
  • Financial records must be in an auditable format and kept for a minimum of 7 years
  • Record member and officer information
  • Certain financial transactions must be notified to the Fair Work Commission (for example, loans or donations over $1000)

4. Record Keeping

  • ACA is a national body with state representation and organisation

5. Set limits of authority for expenditure

6. Internal audits to be undertaken

Other Matters Generally

1. Whistle blower protections

2. Consequences of non-compliance

  • FWC may make inquiries if there is a suspicion of breach, with the judgement of breaches based on the balance of probabilities
  • Penalties for breaches may include: Pecuniary Penalty Order, Compensation Order, Cancellation of Registration

Outcomes and successes of the training

Office bearers generally came away from the training with a fresh or ‘refreshed’ view as to the responsibilities of acting for and representing the Association of Consulting Architects.

Some members became aware of or renewed their knowledge in the areas of finance and governance for an organisation, which is not their normal day-to-day architectural business. While finance may be an area of keen interest and regular concern for every registered architect, the appropriate level of governance as required by the Act/Regulation for the successful operation of ACA as a Registered Organisation was recognised by the participants.

The training and discussion that took place during and after each session reinforced the importance to act fairly and honestly in an organisation that acts for its members.

The training will help improve the running of ACA and thereby will improve the performance of ACA in its aim of representing and acting for member firms in the Business of Architecture.

Greg Isaac is Secretary, ACA – NSW/ACT, and a Director of Fulton Trotter Architects.

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