The ICAEW’s new President for 2019/20, Fiona Wilkinson, will use her role to be an ambassador for inclusion in accountancy and to ensure the profession is fit for the future. She has spent her career as an advocate for diversity in the profession, spreading the message that accountancy is inclusive and open to all, no matter what their background.

After qualifying as an ICAEW chartered accountant in 1980, Wilkinson worked for Deloitte in locations including London, Milan, and Canada, before going on to start her own practice, working as a technical consultant to firms. Sh

She became President of the ICAEW South West District Society in 2004 and focused on encouraging younger members, women and student members to become involved. During the last 13 years she has also served as chair of the Professional Standards Board, ICAEW Board Director, chair of the Ethics Advisory Committee and chair of the Diversity Advisory Group.

One of her aims during her year as President is to celebrate the centenary of Mary Harris Smith, who was the first woman ever to become a chartered accountant and a member of ICAEW in 1920.

Wilkinson said: “Mary Harris Smith applied several times to join the Institute and was turned down before finally being accepted. I want to celebrate her resilience and determination to achieve the qualification she wanted.”

A number of events are planned to mark the centenary, including the commissioning of a portrait of Harris Smith, and events being held to celebrate female members not only in ICAEW District Societies in the UK, but throughout the world. 

Wilkinson also wants to play her part in working with government and regulators to ensure the profession is fit for the future. She said: “We need to look forward to the future and make audit something that is valued and useful. We need to ask what the users of accounts actually want from us, be positive about change, and ensure a bright future for the profession.”

Wilkinson serves as ICAEW President from 5 June 2019 to 3 June 2020, when she will hand over to David Matthews.