Portrait of Stephen M. R. Covey
The Profession

Accountants in ideal position to build trust in society, expert says

At The ONE Virtual Conference 2020, keynote speaker Stephen M. R. Covey will explain how trust can change everything in an organization—and how CPAs can help develop it through their own behaviour

Portrait of Stephen M. R. CoveyStephen M. R. Covey, bestselling author of The Speed of Trust is a keynote speaker at CPA Canada’s The ONE Virtual Conference 2020 (Image provided)

For many people, the notion of trust is an ethereal concept that is difficult to capture or define in practical terms. But for Stephen M. R. Covey, bestselling author of The Speed of Trust and keynote speaker at CPA Canada’s The ONE Virtual Conference,  September 17-18, the concept is anything but ethereal. It’s a hard-edged economic driver that is highly actionable and measurable. “Our whole world runs on trust. If you take it away, everything slows down or even grinds to a halt,” says Covey.

In his address for The ONE,  Covey will look at why trust is especially relevant for accountants, why it is being highlighted during the pandemic and how CPAs can build it themselves in their own organizations.

“Accountants play a vital role in enabling trust in companies, markets and societies,” says Covey. “When a company issues a certified financial statement, readers know they can rely on that information because it is supported by generally accepted accounting principles and professional  standards, as well as the reputation and brand of the firm that’s validating the information.” 

Accountants can also help foster trust within their own teams and organizations, says Covey. “Integrity is a CPA’s calling card,” he says. “So apart from the work they do in verifying or validating financial information, they can be a force for building the kind of culture that enables trust.”

Covey himself learned the value of trust through personal experience. When his company merged with its competitor, the former archrivals had to intentionally build trust from the ground up. “Even though we each had achieved a good level of trust within our separate organizations, we were now suddenly combined and we needed to dispel any lingering suspicions people may have had.”

Once the former competitors decided to focus on developing trust, it changed everything, says Covey. “It became clear that this wasn’t just a soft social virtue. It was economic. We could do everything we wanted to do better, faster and at less cost. We were also happier and more engaged.”

In his session at The ONE, Covey will look at 13 high-leverage behaviours that leaders can use to build trust. “Many people think you either have trust or you don’t—that there isn’t much you can do to alter that reality. But my message is that you can lose trust though your behaviour, but you can also turn it into your greatest asset through your behaviour. When you intentionally focus on it, you can move the needle.”


To tune into Covey’s session, click here to register for CPA Canada’s The ONE Virtual Conference 2020. The theme this year is Facing unprecedented change as one.