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1. One who argues against a cause or position, not as a committed opponent but simply for the sake of argument or to determine the validity of the cause or position...
CHARTER OF MEMBERSHIP
DEVIL'S ADVOCATE DISCUSSION GROUP
FOUNDER MEMBERS OF THE GROUP: Dominic Papaluca, Scott Collins, Janie Quinn, Rachelle Spyker, Jemma Sanderson, Tony Barber, Aniket Maroo, Denise Griffiths, Geoff Woods
The purpose of the group is to encourage an informed up-to-date professional approach to the art of public accountancy by a mutual interchange of ideas and technical information through the medium of regular monthly meetings and various electronic technology available, conducted in a friendly atmosphere, to ensure that each member has a maximum benefit from participation.
Every member is expected to openly participate in discussions, including when the group meets in person, and on the on-line forum in responding to questions. Given the content of discussions will be technical as well as practice based, each member is expected to maintain a high level of confidentiality with respect to any discussions that result in the transfer of intellectual property between members, as well as when discussion is with respect to the operations of the practices of members.
Commencement Date of Charter
This Charter is effective from 9 February 2015.
The Convenor will organise at least ten monthly meetings in each calendar year. The Convenor will be responsible for acting as chairperson at that meeting, ensuring that the group remains on topic throughout the meeting.
The structure of meetings should be that a number of selected questions are discussed. The number will be up to the convener to determine, based on the complexity of the question, and the number of questions available on the forum to select. Each member is expected to have reviewed the question and either already provided a response on-line to discuss, or be ready to discuss a response at the meeting. The questions to be discussed at the meeting will be determined by the Monday prior to the meeting to ensure that members have sufficient time to review and respond. No additional questions will be able to be submitted to be discussed once the Monday before the meeting has passed. A "devil's advocate" approach is also encouraged from members, whereby an alternative argument / strategy is suggested for further discussion.
Where a member requires immediate guidance from the membership with respect to a question, they are able to post the question on the forum. For it to be addressed by the group with immediacy, the member needs to alert the convenor that it is urgent, and the convener will then circulate the urgency of the new question on the forum.
Subscription for Meetings
The Convenor shall arrive at a subscription in February each year by compiling an estimate of the costs, which shall be divided equally between the participating members. As no refreshments will be provided at each meeting, any surplus funds at year end (surplus to the operational costs of the website) will generally be used towards an end of year function.
Size of Group
Membership is capped at 20 individuals (which should be at a sufficient level to ensure that there are always an adequate number of members at each meeting so that topics could be discussed in a lively informed manner. One of the attractions of the group is that all members know one another and are prepared to discuss topics in an uninhibited manner.
The membership level should be kept under review to ensure that attendances at meetings do not become unwieldy.
The members are responsible for providing appropriate questions for members to consider and discuss at meetings.
Further, members are expected to:
- Contribute to monthly discussions;
- Have reviewed and prepared a response to questions to be discussed at the monthly meetings;
- Have undertaken a technical review of the nominated questions and have a considered approach to a solution;
- Be candid and willing to discuss the alternate views / approaches with other members;
- Be willing to share their knowledge;
- Feel comfortable to share their experiences within their practice from a practice management perspective. In this regard, there is a high level of confidentiality with respect to the group and the discussion with respect to practice management and the sharing of intellectual property
Should the membership fall below 10 individuals, members (after the first year – it is expected that within the first year the membership numbers may be smaller whilst the group is formed and is in the start-up phase) should be on the lookout for appropriate practitioners who could be invited to join the group and also for appropriate speakers to present items of technical interest to the group.
There must be a degree of commitment from members to ensure that they are prepared to attend meetings on a regular basis and inactive members will be reviewed.
Attendance requirements will be as follows:
- If a member fails to attend three consecutive meetings without providing a sound reason, their membership will be subject to review by the group.
- Members are expected to contribute to discussions at meetings. Where a member does not actively contribute to discussion, and this is an ongoing occurrence, their member may be subject to review by the group
- A member's subscription must be paid within 45 days of the rendering of the account; otherwise their membership may be forfeited.
A member may invite partners, senior staff members or any other colleague in the profession to any meeting with prior approval from the group. It may also be conceivable that a member has a special guest (country, interstate or overseas) whom they may wish to invite on any particular meeting evening and in this case the member must give two working days notice to the Convenor to ensure that seating and catering is sufficient.
Prospective members may be invited to attend meetings on a trial basis. In order to be accepted as a member, the prospective member must attend three meetings and actively participate in discussion. Once they have attended the required three meetings, they will be absent from the fourth meeting to enable the group to determine whether the prospective member is to be invited to join the group. Election is by a 75% majority of members in attendance at a meeting to admit a new member.
A quorum will mean 75% of members, and a resolution affecting the charter of the group may be passed by a 75% majority vote of those members attending and voting. Not less than ten days' written notice specifying the intention to propose the amendment must be given.
Review of Charter
The Charter is to be reviewed at the February meeting in each year and the office of Convenor will be declared vacant at that same meeting.
The meetings will be held on the second Monday of each month (no meeting to be held in December or January) commencing at 5.00pm sharp and each member is expected to notate in their diary for meetings throughout the year to ensure that they attend meetings. The meetings are to run for 90 minutes, finishing at 6.30 pm. Where agreed, the group may continue discussion beyond that timeframe where deemed appropriate.
Leave of Absence
In exceptional circumstances a member may apply for Leave of Absence for up to six months and his/her membership shall be held open until he/she returns. A member will be required to pay his/her membership in full during this period of Leave of Absence.
Retirement of Member
A retiring member has the right to nominate a person for the group to consider as a replacement member. The group is not obligated to accept the membership of the replacement member. They will be subject to the same application and acceptance process as any other member. Upon retirement, the retiring member's access to the website and forum will be terminated.
Re-admission of Former Member
A former member may re-apply for membership, and will be subject to the same review and admission of a new member with respect to the assessment of the individual regarding their suitability as a member to the group.
Guest speakers are able to be introduced to the group. Where a guest speaker attends a meeting, the intention is to utilise their expertise to the utmost extent possible. Accordingly, the format of such a session may comprise a presentation by the guest speaker, followed by general discussion questions on the topics that the guest speaker specialises in.
The appearance of a guest speaker is to be approved by circulating the request to members, and provided no disapproval by more than 50% of the membership, the guest speaker will be invited to attend a meeting. The approval of a guest speaker to be undertaken with at least six weeks' notice to ensure that sufficient time is available for the guest speaker to prepare.
The membership of the group is to comprise accountants and advisers in practice. The inclusion of lawyers into the group will be by way of a meeting by meeting basis as a guest, pursuant to clause 8. Where a legal practitioner wishes to become a member, the membership group will need to meet to discuss the viability of this arrangement, and whether to introduce a legal practitioner as a member pursuant to clause 9.
Dated 12 April 2015
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