THE FINAL entry deadline for the 2020 (17th annual) edition of The International Business Awards is Tuesday, July 28.

All individuals and organisations worldwide — public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small — may submit nominations to The International Business Awards.

The International Business Awards, one of the eight Stevie Awards programs, are widely considered to be the world's premier business awards competition. In 2019 the competition attracted more than 4,000 nominations from organizations in more than 70 nations.

Juries featuring more than 150 executives will determine the Stevie Award winners. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced on September 9. Stevie Award winners will be honored at a virtual awards ceremony this year.

New this year are a variety of COVID-19 response awards categories that do not have entry fees. These aim to honor heroes of every industry including medical, education, food delivery, media, public service, business response, and more.

The International Business Awards recognise achievement in every facet of the workplace. Categories include:

The IBAs feature more than 40 categories that do not require the payment of entry fees, including all 35 of the Company/Organization of the Year categories, and that there are many new and revised features of the IBAs for 2020, including:

  • Nine new categories to recognize singular business achievements in areas such as business turnaround, finance, revenue generation, and science and technology, among others.
  • The simplification of submission requirements in the Company/Organization, Corporate Communications & Public Relations, Marketing, and New Product & Product Management category groups.

About the Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in eight programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service, and the new Middle East Stevie Awards. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 entries each year from organisations in more than 70 nations. Honouring organisations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.

www.StevieAwards.com.

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THE Association of Accounting Technicians in Australia (AAT) has joined the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) as part of the IPA Group.

"The IPA has enjoyed a long association with AAT.  This change will bring enhanced member benefits and support in line with global trends which demonstrate the importance of an inclusive and collaborative approach between accounting technicians and accountants, particularly in their support to the small business sector,” IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway said.

“Significant new benefits will be offered to technician members, including a comprehensive member pathway for student members seeking a career as an either an Accounting Technician or a Public Accountant.

“This process is similar to the transition of the IFA (UK) into the IPA Group in late 2014,” Mr Conway said.

www.publicaccountants.org.au

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THE LAW COUNCIL of Australia has called on the Federal Government to improve the use of electronic processes in the execution of documents and said consideration should be given to consistency across the states and territories is needed to avoid confusion.

Appearing before the Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, Law Council president, Pauline Wright, said while the implementation of electronic document execution, introduced during the pandemic should be applauded, it is important that the Committee considers the medium and long-term supports needed, including the benefits of harmonising approaches across jurisdictions.

“There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the economic and financial environment in Australia and has significantly affected the FinTech, RegTech and LegalTech sectors,” Ms Wright said.

“Improving the ability to undertake the witnessing and signing of crucial documents as well as filing or registering documents with governmental and regulatory agencies electronically, should be priority of any reform process,” Ms Wright said.

While the Law Council commended the initiatives regarding electronic document execution that have been introduced during the pandemic, the potential for inconsistency between jurisdictions has created uncertainty.

“The Law Council asks that the Committee consider the possibility of harmonising, where appropriate, processes for e-signature and similar activities nationally,” Ms Wright said.

“We also suggest that the temporary provisions for the virtual running of company meetings, such as AGMs, under the Corporations Act, has clear benefits for the corporate sector and investors in times when the economy is under stress.

“In the Law Council’s view, these reforms should be maintained post COVID-response measures, with the necessary safeguards in place,” Ms Wright said.

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EQT HOLDINGS Ltd (ASX: EQT) has announced the appointment of Equity Trustees Superannuation Limited as superannuation trustee for AMP Life Limited’s  (AMP Life) superannuation funds replacing current trustees N M Superannuation Proprietary Limited and AMP Superannuation Limited.

AMP Life has more than $7 billion invested in these superannuation funds held by more than 340,000 Australians and has been acquired by Resolution Life Group Holdings LP (Resolution Life), a global manager of in force life insurance businesses.

Following this appointment, Equity Trustees is now responsible for over $20 billion in superannuation assets for more than 700,000 members overall.

Equity Trustees managing director, Mick O’Brien said, “The appointment to AMP Life confirms Equity Trustees as the leading provider of independent superannuation trustee services in Australia. It also marks another leading financial services firm choosing Equity Trustees to provide its specialist fund governance services.”

Mr O’Brien said there was an increasing trend to outsource the trustee role amongst superannuation providers in Australia and overseas.

“The appeal of outsourced specialist oversight of super members’ funds is a growing trend in the wake of the financial services royal commission. Recent market volatility, including unprecedented numbers of people accessing part of their superannuation early, alongside an inherently complex regulatory environment, have also highlighted how a specialist superannuation trustee can deliver value for funds and their members.”

Equity Trustees has grown to be the market leader in superannuation trustee services and has secured several large-scale appointments this financial year, including the appointment by AIA to oversee the CommInsure superannuation funds.

Mr O’Brien said the company had been investing significantly by recruiting specialised professionals to its Superannuation Trustee Office to capture the expected growth in industry outsourcing.

“We aim to be the only choice for large-scale providers with sophisticated needs, who want the best governance structure they can find for their members. That includes global players who want an Australian specialist with deep understanding of the complex regulatory environment,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said the role of trustee was critical to a robust, secure superannuation system.

“The role of trustee has not been well understood, but its value is becoming more appreciated; it must balance technical expertise in the complexities of governance and regulation, with great judgement. This is the essence of being a trustee.”

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WITH THE COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the responsiveness and flexibility of Australian systems and its people, as well as exposing some structural weaknesses, the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee will tomorrow hold a public hearing as part of an inquiry into the resilience of Australia’s supply chains and the impact of COVID-19 on the global rules based order.

Witnesses appearing before the Committee will represent an inter-disciplinary consultancy group, an Australian policy, geopolitical and economic think-tank, and experts specialising in ‘grey zone’ defence tactics, strategies increasingly used by other nation states.

Committee chair Senator David Fawcett said COVID has heightened awareness for many Australians that a “business as usual” approach is not sustainable with the dual impacts of the pandemic and the changing strategic environment.

"Reducing acquisition cost has been a major feature of business supply-chain decisions since the turn of the century, including off-shoring production and just-in-time replenishment," Senator Fawcett said.

"This disruption is forcing a national discussion into the weaknesses in some of Australia’s key supply-chain models and an analysis of what can be done to build-in resilience. COVID‑19 has prompted a rethink of our current trade and manufacturing architecture and ensuring defence strategy responds to the new environment, from both a health and a strategic perspective."

Dr Alan Dupont AO, the CEO and founder of consultancy firm Cognoscenti Group, will discuss his submission highlighting the threats to the current global rules-based order and the likely implications for Australia as supply chains 'decouple’.

The Committee will explore this—and the possible emergence of new geopolitical blocs—with Dr Dupont and with another submitter, John Blackburn AO, retired RAAF Air Vice‑Marshal and founder of the Institute of Integrated Economic Research Australia.

Australia’s exposure to geopolitical risks, the stability of near neighbours and its defence and cyber security capabilities will be discussed with joint submitters: Professor Sascha Dov Bachmann, professor in law, University of Canberra; and Dr Andrew Dowse AO, director of Defence Research, Edith Cowan University and also retired RAAF Air Vice-Marshal.

Full terms of reference for the inquiry are on the Committee website.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday, 2 July 2020
Time: 3pm—5pm AEST
Location: By teleconference

The hearings will be audio streamed live at aph.gov.au/live.

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MANSFIELD QLD 4122