The IWFM’s 2021 annual general meeting, held online and in London yesterday, painted a picture of an institute having responded forcefully to the pandemic but aware of its need to instigate further change in order to meet the needs of the member and volunteer base.
”I am committed to growing our community and reach,” said CEO Linda Hausmanis in her address, accepting that “more needs to be done to explain our membership proposition”, as well as to “map out our member value proposition, determine the value of what it is to be a member, and to increase meaningful and purposeful engagement.”
The CEO’s comments followed figures showing that while professional membership retention stands at 83 per cent, exceeding the same rates of 2018, overall membership is in decline.
“I want to be upfront about that, which is why we have published comparative data for the last two years. But let me be clear, I am far from complacent about it.”
Speaking of the ongoing communities review project, Hausmanis declared that “the hard work starts now as we work our way through the recommendations and to refine our next three-year strategic plan.”
Head of finance & HR Catherine Gowers then presented on the institute’s finances, describing 2020 as “one of the most difficult and challenging years”.
The cumulative impact of the pandemic on both membership numbers and commercial activities was an 18 per cent fall in income.
Operating costs were reduced by 18 per cent, with IWFM receiving government help through furlough scheme money and PAYE payment deferrals (the latter being paid back by 3rd October).
For 2021, Gowers forecast “a positive swing in our operating profit” as income from commercial ventures turns upward. A reduction in asset depreciation over the next three years should also help bolster the institute’s financial position.
The meeting culminated in a series of resolutions, including one multi-faceted special resolution aimed at strengthening the institute’s governance and based on feedback from the ongoing communities review.
This called for an increase in the size of the board of directors from 13 to 15, “to improve the quality of decision-making within IWFM”, and to include the chair of IWFM’s Members Council.
An increase in the number of co-opted directors (not necessarily IWFM members) from three to four was designed to provide the Board with more external expertise in commercial, strategic, financial, legal and other skills, providing an opportunity to attract “captains of industry” to support the IWFM mission. This also called for co-opted directors to be able to continue to support the board for longer.
Another element of the resolution sought to “clarify the role of Members Council within the overall governance structure of the IWFM”, with Members Council as a “forum for Regions and SIGs and as a source of industry insight and expertise, recognising how Members’ Council “has a key role to play in informing IWFM’s strategic direction in addition to its research agenda”.
All of these resolutions were subsequently passed.
In response to an audience question about whether the institute would have remained solvent during the pandemic without government support, outgoing chair Martin Bell reiterated the work of the Extraordinary Finance Committee convened in response to the situation. He also spoke of the role of the institute’s auditors to ensure “that we are reporting accurately and that we are indeed a going concern”.