The independent and confidential sounding board

Nov 05, 2019
Niall Fitzgerald FCA, Head of Ethics and Governance at Chartered Accountants Ireland, details his day as the ethical touchstone in the Institute.


It’s still dark outside and the pitter patter of rain is softly drumming against the bedroom window. I am invited to speak at a breakfast briefing on governance in sporting organisations this morning, so the alarm went off earlier than normal. My usual review of LinkedIn, Twitter and online news over porridge is replaced with run through of what I intend to cover at the event and the realisation that I am not a morning person in the winter.


As I step into the room, I brush off the morning raindrops. It’s typical that my nerves strike just five minutes before I am to speak, but knowing there are some “friendlies” in the room helps. By the end of the talk, I’m relaxed and realise that everyone has the same burning questions, so I hang back for a little while to enjoy the one-on-one discussions.


It has stopped raining as I head into the Dublin office on Pearse Street to tackle emails and today’s workplan. 


I meet a member who is a non-executive director on a few boards. We go for coffee in Café di Napoli to discuss a dilemma she is facing on one of them. One of the highlights of my job is engaging with members involved in governance or senior business roles. They work across every sector and in various industries. It is very satisfying to serve as an independent and confidential sounding board to them. 


It’s time for a team meeting to review progress on one of the projects we are working on. The meeting goes well with some deliverable outcomes. Everyone is clear on the next steps. 


I am off to Grand Canal Dock to have lunch with some of my colleagues from a course I did in University College Dublin (UCD), Diploma in Corporate Governance, some years ago. I make a mental note to do this more often.


Time for my afternoon marathon of tasks. As my role also involves embedding and co-ordinating activities relevant to business ethics and governance across the Institute’s operations, I work with different teams in several departments. This afternoon, I am meeting with the Life-Long Learning and Continuous Professional Development team to assist forward planning of governance events. After that, I meet with the Communications team to discuss our involvement in the global Edelman Trust survey on the accounting profession. My last in-house meeting is with the Professional Standards department to discuss a project we are working on to consult with the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA).


I head over the Liffey to the Institute of Banking for yet another meeting, this one regarding behaviour and culture in the financial services sector.


Back to the office for a final sweep of emails. I head home once this is done. Tomorrow is another, but entirely different, day. 


An unusually late return home from work so I forgo the usual walk or trip to the gym with my wife. Instead, I head for the kitchen and begin preparations for dinner. Dinner is an important event in our house and gives my wife and I quality time to catch up (through English and Spanish) on the highlights of the day and talk about friends, family and just life in general.