As I enter my third term as President of ACFO, I am proud of how far the Association has come, both in terms of how ACFO is managed as well as what we have accomplished for the FI Community.
The Association has made significant strides since I was first elected President in 2004. Our membership has doubled over that time frame, from 2,300 to 4,600 FIs. Our labour relations team has also doubled to service the growing FI Community. ACFO is tackling growing pains in a manageable fashion, and strives to continuously improve operations. In that regard, the Association has taken strides to manage human resources better. Compensation and benefits packages have been upgraded to match the market and compete for the best and brightest people to carry out ACFO’s agenda.
I can say with certainty that through our efforts, ACFO is recognized as a respected voice representing the best interests of public service financial administrators and a strong fiscal management framework for the government of Canada.
I wish I could say that the next 5 to 10 years will be as productive for the FI Community as the last five. Looking forward, it is difficult to predict how the next few years will play out. We are navigating on a sea of irrationality. Financial decisions are being made without proper business cases analysis or consideration of long-term implications.
It is frustrating to watch this happen, knowing the added value that financial officers can provide to help the government achieve its cost-controlling agenda. Unfortunately, this government views all Public Servants as expenses to be minimized and controlled rather than resources to build solutions.
As a labour organization, we have no roadmap for this type of scenario. We cannot predict what this government is thinking or how they will act. And while we are subject to the whims of the Employer, we recognize that the government is also subject to conditions outside of its control. Global economic uncertainly forces this government to be wary. I fear that they will use over-reacting to current conditions as a tactic for political gain, which is a game that in the end produces no good.
That said, I don’t think the outlook for the future is absolutely bleak. You are going to see a mass exodus of seasoned Public Servants as the Baby Boomer cohort reaches retirement age over the next few years. We are cognizant that this will create new challenges as a vast amount of corporate knowledge is lost, and it will place heightened expectations on less-seasoned employees. The silver lining is that it will also create plenty of opportunities for FIs.
ACFO must adapt with new tools and skillsets to face this new frontier of challenges. Our focus is clear; the Association exists to serve the best interests of the FI Community. This includes fair and equitable compensation, professional training and skills development, and a conducive work environment that allows FIs to serve Canadians.
Milt Isaacs, CMA, CPFA
President, Association of Canadian Financial Officers