UK: Custodians Of Integrity

Last Updated: 16 June 2015
Article by Patrick Bitature

I was the guest speaker at ICSA's London graduation and membership ceremony on 29 May and it was a great pleasure to be part of such a happy occasion. Not only did it give me a chance to congratulate in person those who have joined or advanced in the profession, including my fellow Africans who had travelled from as far afield as Zambia and Malawi, it also afforded me the opportunity to look back over my own career and reflect on how much the ICSA qualification has helped me.

I graduated in 1984 having completed the ICSA qualification at the London School of Accountancy. When I was invited to speak at this year's graduation I took a few minutes to reflect on what I have accomplished since that time and asked myself three questions:

  1. Am I satisfied today that I acquired enough knowledge and skills by choosing to study ICSA instead of any other course?
  2. Is what I learned still relevant today 30 years on?
  3. Do I have any regrets?

My answer to question 1, is a resounding 'Yes'. I am absolutely satisfied that the best thing I did was to gain the ICSA qualification. Not only did it give me the knowledge and skills I needed, it also gave me the tools of trade that helped me make more of the right decisions along the way. When you go out into the real world it helps to have the right tools.

I was born into a reasonably well-off family five, with house help on call, drivers and many privileges that I took for granted. We owned property, farms, buses and cars. We had a house in Uganda and one in Kenya, where we lived for a while.

This life changed when I was 13. We had returned to Uganda, where my dad was brutally murdered by the Idi Amin regime – for no reason. I was shattered, devastated and shocked beyond words. Not only were we robbed of a father and bread winner, everything material we had was taken away overnight. We walked out of the door with just the clothes on our backs. Riches to rags doesn't begin to describe what we went through.

About a year later we got together as family again in Kampala. My mother had prepared a high tea for the reunion, but tea with no sugar for the first time. On tasting the tea, my youngest brother started crying for daddy to come back for things were now getting really hard. That was the turning point in my life. My mother too began crying hysterically and asking the almighty Lord to take us all. I decided that very minute that I had to go to Nairobi, Kenya on the overnight bus in search of some sugar.

Living without a front door that actually locks, or not having a bathroom door, is a loss of dignity. I realised I had to restore our dignity and family's self esteem. I filled a suitcase with sugar that I managed to raise from family and friends. When I got back I was severely ticked off by my mother who hadn't known where I was, but the neighbours heard that we had sugar, so we kept some and sold the rest... and that's how I got started in business.

Jobs are hugely important to society. They allow people to feel useful and build their confidence. Jobs make people productive members of the community. They also make people feel they are worthy citizens. We need young people who have creative ideas or solutions to problems to grab the opportunity, take a risk and set aside or forego the comforts of today to set up businesses that will provide jobs and profit tomorrow.

ICSA gave me a good understanding of the general principles of English law, the all-important basics of financial accounting, business ethics, a clear understanding of company law, marketing skills, risk management and a better command of the English language especially for business. It also improved my understanding of psychology and of human resources. I was almost complete at graduation and felt that all I was lacking was experience. I now have plenty of that too. Hard-earned experience.

Is what I learned still relevant today, 30 years on?

'Yes'. If anything it is more relevant to organisations today – both public and private – than ever before. The standards and importance of good corporate governance have been raised considerably, especially after the infamous ENRON scandal that brought the reputation of big accounting names into disrepute. Then the recent global financial crisis that has had such a huge impact on us all and sent economies into a tail-spin.

Governance in small and medium enterprises is increasingly important to their very survival and success. Typically hundreds of small business open up every year but the attrition rate is extremely high. Research has shown that an absence of good governance and a lack of the right skills causes more to fail than the lack of capital. Good governance plays a central role in our everyday lives, making the role of ICSA even more consequential.

Do I have any regrets? 

Would I have been happier if I had focused just on law and become a lawyer or just on accounting and been an accountant? Or should I have done a degree and an MBA? Absolutely not. I have no regrets. I have never been in a meeting and found myself wanting for knowledge or feeling uncomfortable. I started a business in telecommunications and am now the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Umeme, a power distributor, and among the largest listed companies in Uganda. ICSA is such an empowering and diverse course that it enabled me to develop the confidence to be able to talk about such a wide range of issues.

My message to graduates and members is simple. Be custodians of integrity and transparency in all your dealings. It is not enough to do what's within the law, you have to raise the bar on yourself and others to always do the right thing, legally and morally.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.