Stuart Grant FAICD reflects on his 34 years as a dedicated member on our Reporting Committee.
Q&A with Stuart Grant
Stuart Grant FAICD is a long-serving member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Reporting Committee. He first joined its predecessor 34 years ago and only recently stood down from the role.
Grant was a partner of a major accounting firm for 30 years and served as executive director, accounting practice for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). He has also been a visiting fellow at Macquarie University.
During his time with the Reporting Committee, Grant was an active participant in developing submissions and preparing and reviewing training material. He also served as a member of the taskforce that developed the Shareholder Friendly Report and was a representative on ASIC’s Accounting Liaison Committee. In 2005, he received the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors extends its sincere thanks to Grant for his dedication while serving on the Reporting Committee over such a lengthy period.
Here, Grant reflects on his time with the Reporting Committee as well as some of the highlights of his career.
Company Director (CD): What do you believe prompted the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ to invite you to join the Reporting Committee?
Stuart Grant (SG): I joined what was then called the Accounting and Finance Advisory Committee (AFAC) in 1976. This invitation, I believe, was prompted by the rising debate at the time about inflation accounting. The Australian Institute of Company Directors was concerned about some of the developments and sought technical input in order to “supplement” its intuition.
At that time, we only had around five members on the AFAC, compared with 25 today.
CD: What have you enjoyed most about being a member of the Reporting Committee?
SG: Clearly, the most enjoyable feature of the committee over the 34 years is the goodwill and camaraderie that has existed. The discussion may well have been intense at times, but there always seemed to be a “solution” that, at least, was generally supported by the group. I can’t recall any real acrimony over all those years.
CD: Can you tell us about your background and how you came to have a focus on reporting issues?
SG: My background and career is as a chartered accountant at a major accounting firm. Within the firm, I also took on technical leadership roles involving the application and interpretation of accounting and reporting issues.
I also had the privilege to sit on the International Accounting Policy Committee of the firm for three and a half years, which took me around the world 10 times.
CD: What are some of the highlights from your career?
SG: The International Accounting Policy Committee, mentioned above, was certainly a highlight. Perhaps in a more unusual role, I played a pivotal part in the 1989 Four Corners program presented by Paul Barry, entitled ‘Bondy’s Bounty’. This episode was an exposé of dubious accounting practices adopted within Bond Corporation at that time. My role was as an independent expert who opined on the accounting practices.
I also served as chairman of a high-tech company producing ornamental plants, which was a highlight.
CD: What is the value of an Australian Institute of Company Directors’ membership to you?
SG: For me, the value is more intangible. It comes through the experience of working with competent and talented people within the organisation and on the Reporting Committee.
CD: What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt during your career?
SG: Something I learned fairly early in my career was that it isn’t enough to be “right”. You have to sell your views and not just expect people to easily accept them. In addition, I’ve come to believe that communication or interpersonal skills are more important than intellect.
CD: How have you found the people on the Reporting Committee with whom you have worked?
SG: I touched on this earlier, but to elaborate – and by naming a few people I hope I don’t offend anyone omitted – some of the outstanding former members I have worked with on the Reporting Committee include Sir Robert Crichton-Brown KCMG CBE TD FAICDLife, Stanley Costigan, Warren Gummer, Bob Harvey, Ken Wood, John Landrigan and John Cowling FAICD.
CD: What are your passions outside work?
SG: Number one would be my family. But to be more specific, Fiji has been our family paradise for many years and we have visited around 18 times. We also have a holiday house in the country, on the Kooralbyn Golf Course, which we visit regularly. Cruising also gets a big tick, as does the wildlife of Southern Africa.
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