Date posted: 24/03/2020

Bernadette Scanlon

Discover Bernadette's story and how this London based OYW delegate thinks CA's can make a difference.


Originally from Wellington, Bernadette graduated from Victoria University with a double degree in law and commerce, majoring in accounting and economics. She went on to work for PwC New Zealand for six years in various lines of service - namely taxation, restructuring and management consulting.

Bernadette has spent the past year and a half experiencing what it is like to live in Europe. She worked as a Cyber Security Manager for Aon Netherlands - quantifying the impact of cyber related risks for entities. Bernadette has recently moved to London to pursue her passion of generating systemic and positive social change, and will commence her role in July as Consulting Lead for FutureGov – which focuses on reforming health and public services.

Bernadette is an active member of CAANZ, having served on the executive of the Wellington Young Accountants Group for several years.

She also has extensive frontline volunteering experience, predominately centered around working with youth and her Pacific Island Community.

Bernadette Scanlon


Accountancy has often been referred to as the language of business. Communicating to stakeholders key information so that effective decision-making can ensue. Mitigating issues surrounding agency theory by providing assurance that what is being communicated is reliable, free from bias and accurate and, facilitating the ability to hold management and the board to account. However, this language has historically been synonymous with financial communication alone.

I believe our Chartered Accountancy profession can leverage off the status of being a trustworthy and competent profession, to become a thought leader and key driver of sustainable business within New Zealand. Furthermore, I believe that if the profession does not act upon this, there is a potential that we could ostracize and lose credibility from investors and consumers who are demanding so much more than financial information to drive decision-making.

There is increasing demand within businesses to provide non-financial information to external stakeholders, despite there being no mandatory requirement for New Zealand businesses to adopt integrated reporting. However, without proper guidance on how to do this, the information provided can be fragmented in scope and not reach its objective of communicating to stakeholders useful and accurate information about social and environmental issues. Chartered Accountants can offer New Zealand businesses corporate governance and strategic advice about how to be gather, use, interpret and report on such non-financial factors. By doing so, we also provide enhanced information to businesses regarding the full extent of their risks and not simply financial threats, and help focus leadership teams on their long-term objectives.

Enhanced trust within business and finance can also be acquired through offering assurance on impact measurements. A common risk for investors in social enterprises or businesses advocating sustainability is ascertaining whether the objectives will eventuate. My experience with government departments and social service providers is that there has traditionally been a focus on output report – not outcome reporting. Chartered Accountants are well placed to provide frameworks, develop tools and upskill reporting for the measurement of outcomes and thus, stimulate growth in social investment. Further, stakeholders want to understand the full (financial, social and economic) cost of a decision. Whilst difficult to measure, as it incorporates the full lifecycle of a decision, Chartered Accountants could lead the charge to determine a methodology or approach for impact measurement. Finally, through leveraging emerging technologies such as blockchain and automation, we can help promote further efficiencies within sustainable business.

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