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Email 19: 13th April 2017. What should the remuneration levels be at CPA Australia?

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Brett Stevenson
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Email 19: 13th April 2017. What should the remuneration levels be at CPA Australia?

Post by Brett Stevenson » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:21 pm

Hi members, and other interested persons (I add that because we are a professional before the watching world, what we do impacts on others),

I was asked a question yesterday which possibly resonate with most of us as CPA members.
What is a reasonable remuneration level for the Key Management Personnel at CPA Australia, in particular the CEO?

So let me try to summarise my response, and see if it gels with your thoughts.
Let me provide my answer, as I have been pretty dogmatic in saying I regard them as being the litmus test of the integrity and credibility of the CPA leadership
To me they have failed the test so badly they should be sacked.
“You are being a bit overdramatic don’t you think Brett?"
No, I don’t, and here is why.

What is a reasonable remuneration level for Key Management Personnel at CPA Australia?
Let's make sure we have the facts right to start with. I will use the 2016 Annual Report data, being the latest.
It’s all contained in Note 18 on page 89.
The Key Management Personnel are listed as being the 12 directors and 3 senior executives. A total of 15 people.
Their remuneration totals $5,508,000 which is about a 20% increase on the previous year total of $4,572,000.

Issue One: I hardly need to mention this is pretty minimal disclosure. Well below what listed public companies are required to provide.
And we hold ourselves out to be the profession that sets the standards (in both senses of the word).
We are not Robinson Crusoe in this regard both in relation to the accounting profession (The Institute does no better) and other member organisations (e.g AICD etc)
Those of you who subscribe to or read the AFR will be aware that they have been pointing out (quite correctly) the fundamental hypocrisy of this.
Here we are as professional and membership organisations who profess openness and high standards and use words like integrity and transparency, yet we are guilty of exhibiting low standards, minimal disclosure and to the watching world are displaying the opposite of transparency and integrity.
I think it behoves us all to read the opinion piece in the AFR a few weeks ago on this matter by Professor Steven Taylor from UTS.

Issue Two: The refusal of CPA Australia to disclose the 2016 remuneration more fully is itself a default recognition that they are trying to cover something up.
We have made this an issue and they just plain refuse to budge. That reeks of a very bad smell to me, and their constant harping on it being compliant with the minimum requirements of the law, and that this one figure is ‘clearly disclosed’ and holds ’no secrets’ (refer Boards response of 2nd March 2017) just makes a mockery of our profession.

Issue Three: This is where the leadership of the Board of CPA Australia is found to be wanting, and why I believe Tyrone Carlin as President/Chairman needs to step up to the plate and lead on this matter. Hence why we have been pretty critical and targeted of him because I believe he is failing in his primary duty as Chairman of the Board. His refusal to disclose what he is being paid as Chairman if CPA Australia, and as director of our subsidiary CPA Australia Advice, sets the worst possible example to the rest of the board, the CPA staff, the CPA membership and possibly most importantly to the general public who must be watching and reading of this with derision.
That is why I have written to the University of Sydney, not because I have a personal grudge against you, but because there are some fundamental disconnects and plain outright impossibilities in relation to your holding a pretty senior full time job at the university while holding another very important role with CPA Australia. And to be brutally frank I have lost such trust in the words of the leadership of CPA Australia on this that I do not regard them as (what's that word the courts use.., that’s it) "reliable witnesses”.

But let's get back to the facts of what we do know and what we can deduce from the $5,508,000
We know what the maximum amount that can be said the 12 directors because they are set in our constitution.
For the President/Chairman it is 60% of the Auditor-General of Australia’s salary package (established on basis of him/her working 3 to 4 days per week at CPA Australia), for the Deputy President(s) it is 25%, and for the remixing directors it is 15%.
The A-G’s salary in 2016 was $705,030 so we can easily calculate that the maximum directors fees for 2016 to be $1,723,000 (given that we had 2 Deputy Presidents for the year). So lets round it off at saying the maximum the 12 directors could have been paid was $1,700,000.
Therefore the balance must be the minimum the 3 senior executives could have been paid i.e. $3,800,000.
Do I need to swear to say how obscene this level of pay is for these three executives.
My guess is Malley as CEO on close to $2,000,000, and the other two Away and Hughes (as COO’s) on $900,000 each.
That is offensive to me, and I would suggest to 99% of the CPA membership.

Issue Four: I hardly need to spell it out.. The reason the CPA leadership are unwilling to fully disclose is because of the obscene levels of remuneration being paid to individuals, and they do not with them to be identified.
Why else would these salaries not be disclosed? I suggest there is no good reason other than to coverup the bleeding obvious.
That is not the sort of leadership we need for CPA Australia, hence why they all should go.

Note the words minimum and maximum. The directors have assured us that they are not being paid the maximum, as commendable as that sounds, which means that the difference can be added on to what the three senior executives were paid.
So, if for example the directors were only paid $1,200,000 between them, then the three senior executives must have been paid the difference of $500,000 bringing their total remuneration to $4,300,000.
This is no longer some little accountant from Armidale complaining on some minor matter, this is a major issue that should be hitting the headlines of the media.
This is scandalous.
This is an accounting membership organisation with minimal corporate risk (most revenue is virtually guaranteed every year (membership dues, professional development and education), and here we are remunerating our three senior executives on a scale that defies any sort of common sense or decency. If you benchmarked the context of CPA in terms revenue, or commercial risk faced, against any other company or organisation, then we make the CEO’s salary at Australia Post seem like petty cash. (APO t/over of $6.6 billion with 32,000 staff v CPA t/over $170 million with 500 staff).

What should they be paid?

Well for starters we do not use the sorts of remuneration consultants that CPA Australia have purportedly used in the past.
One doesn’t need to be a cynic to appreciate that.

The board
For the board I would think a 50% reduction of the maximum payable per the constitution issuing more than generous.
So for directors it works out at about $50,000 pa. I would think that is very definitely the maximum, and personally I would think that could be reduced by another 50%.
This is for 6 board meetings pa, plus possibly another 4 days for committee meetings.
I think consideration needs to be given to remunerating them on a daily date basis rather than the Auditor-Generals salary.
So, to be specific, I suggest $25,000 to $35,000 range is the go for directors. ($2500-$3500/day)
For the deputy presidents and presidents I would be driven by the daily rate above.

The senior executives
I suggest we need a major rethink of remuneration of our membership organisation taking into account commercial risk, work involved etc.
Deflation would be the first thing that needs to be emphasised.
If the current senior executive remuneration levels are any indication of what is going on at CPA Australia, then I think the board need to radically rethink the administration of the organisation.
Everyone will have their own views on the appropriate level of remuneration for the CEO, but I would suggest remove all sorts of bonuses and incentives and pay a flat rate, and I would think if anyone is suggesting over $600,000 pa. then they would need to have pretty strong arguments to convince me. For the two COO’s I suggest they need to go and have a good look in the mirror and ask themselves why they should be paid anything over $300,000 pa.
Clearly these are a dramatic change from the current remuneration levels but quite frankly if this is reflective of what is happening at CPA Australia Head Office then I suggest major review needs to be done of the whole organisation. Currently they are milking us.

Next time a CPA staff member is aggressive in response to a members question (and they have been over the last few months), to invite themselves to members discussion groups to ‘report back to Head Office’ (as they are currently doing), or threaten or intimidate (as Alex Malley and Jeff Hughes have done - refer AFR articles on this re the Sydney Discussion Group and the emails categorising members as friendlies or not), then I suggest members stand up to them and state very clearly that it is not appropriate behaviour, and report it to the board (as pathetic as they have been to date at least that is the best way to provide feedback).
I would encourage members not to listen too much to the board ‘go to salesman’ Graeme Wade because I do not trust his advocacy and approach, and look forward to the day when we have an inquiry into the $736,000 gift (sorry sponsorship) to the NBL of which he is Chairman. He may regard that as a commercial arms length transaction. I regard that as a major conflict of interest that should never have seen the light of day, and in some ways is a cameo (or perhaps caricature is the better descriptor) of many of the problems that are besetting our organisation at them moment.

Well, that is my more considered answer to the question I was asked yesterday regarding remuneration levels for the leadership at CPA Australia.
I think a 50% reduction for both board and senior executive still leaves them on the generous side.

Cheers

Brett

Brett Stevenson CPA BComm MDiv
bstevenson100@gmail.com

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Re: Email 19: 13th April 2017. What should the remuneration levels be at CPA Australia?

Post by CPA30+ » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:19 pm

I agree whole heartedly. Where do I sign the petition?

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Re: Email 19: 13th April 2017. What should the remuneration levels be at CPA Australia?

Post by nakedadmin » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:34 pm

Stay tuned for the petition. We need to build the numbers first. Please help us by letting others know about the website.
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Re: Email 19: 13th April 2017. What should the remuneration levels be at CPA Australia?

Post by mickyb » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:41 pm

Love what you are saying and doing Brett, I have shared this website with another CPA Member and continue to follow with interest. Looking forward to signing the petition and helping (in a small way) to bring about some change.

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