Back in 2003, Dennis Gentilin was a graduate in the prestigious world of high finance. As a junior trader on NAB’s foreign exchange desk in London, he was living the dream. Until it all turned into a nightmare.
Gentilin discovered his colleagues were “rogue traders” whose fraudulent activity would ultimately cost the bank $360 million. Blowing the whistle on them, his allegations sparked a series of resignations and sackings in the bank’s most senior ranks. Ultimately, four of his colleagues would receive jail time for their role.
Perhaps surprisingly, Gentilin decided to stay on at the bank for a further 12 years and he has since penned a book on how organisations can avoid ethical failures.
Back at the time that Gentilin gave evidence on the witness stand, he spoke of a ‘dysfunctional and fearful desk that was dominated by the “forceful” personality of its leader’.
In his manifesto, Gentilin speaks of the importance of organisations encouraging a “speak up culture”. He says one of the ways you measure that is by how well bad news flows up to leaders, and whether concerns are taken seriously and listened to.
Imagine then, in the context of being heard and listened to, being part of a team where the CEO kicks off meetings with this Tom Petty classic:
According to reports published by The Australian Financial Review, CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley was so committed to not backing down that he requisitioned 400 CD singles of his “anthem” for distribution to team members at the accounting body. My accounting body. The message was clear: say what you want, but I’ll stand my ground.
Or force you to leave, if tonight’s ABC’s 7.30 program is anything to go by. This latest episode of the dramas at CPA Australia raise allegations of bullying and intimidation by the CEO, who had “empowered” staff to move somewhere else if they weren’t committed.
Speaking of standing ground, CPA Australia’s incoming Chair and President Jim Dickson has announced he and Malley will make a major announcement tomorrow. With two further director resignations announced today (Lang and Ong), and word on the street that Hourigan’s resignation has been tendered, Dickson won’t have a quorum to work with. Should make it pretty difficult not to back down…
We wait with baited breath for news from SouthbankHQ. What could it be? My money was on announcement of a formal review led by Malley; now with a seventh resignation perhaps they’ll have no choice but to announce a member EGM (article 57j of the CPA constitution specifies a minimum of 6 directors to form a quorum so the organisation is now effectively ungovernable).
Meanwhile, one FCPA advised me today that the board recruitment instigated prior to the s202B announcement on remuneration is proceeding ‘business as usual’ and that candidates are being shortlisted for immediate appointment. Quite frankly, this is absurd.
The remnant board and our esteemed President would do well to visit the “rebel” member website www.cpamembers.org where they can read very simply what it is that members are looking for. The most urgent and pressing issues, from our perspective, is to restore credibility of the profession by instigating:
- Constitutional changes to reinstate direct member voting rights;
- The resignations of all remaining board members and the three top executives (Malley, Awty and Hughes) effective immediately, and the appointment of an interim caretaker board;
- Recruitment of a new suitably qualified board, following due process;
- A detailed review of governance, culture and spending at CPA Australia;
- A detailed analysis of the CPA membership across member classes, geographies and sectors to determine CPA members needs from the association;
- Development of appropriate strategies to take the organisation forward.
And if Malley and the remaining Board members think it’s still just a handful of people rocking the boat, they’ve got their heads firmly stuck in the sand or somewhere else that the sun don’t shine.
Pick a team, Alex? I know which team I’ll be backing.
Yours in anticipation,