A letter from the president:
(Sent to all ATAA Members)
I do hope that you have all had a delightful Christmas and New Year holiday season and hopefully you are “back on deck” with lots of energy for Trading and Investing in this volatile but profitable and promising environment.
I am afraid that this email brings a “challenge”. I need to share with you some difficulties your ATAA association is facing.
Over the last three years, measured at the end of December each year, our membership has fallen 25%. The number of new memberships has reduced substantially, and many shorter term memberships have not been renewed, however longer term members have continued to support the association.
Falling membership is not unique to the ATAA; rather, it has for the past many years occurred as a general trend at similar financial sector organisations, sporting clubs and the like. Never-the less it is a challenge that we as an association must face.
The association is in a solid financial condition with healthy reserves built up over many years but the reduction in our Membership means that our current and forecast quarterly accounts have moved from “break-even” to a significant quarterly shortfall. Your National Board, as conservative financial managers, has resolved that we must take action to reduce this quarterly shortfall as quickly as possible.
As you would realise, it takes many years of prudent management to build reserves in a not-for-profit association – we should not fritter them away!
Clearly we must also engage the full body of our membership (long term members, short term members, office bearers, all of us) to solve this issue, after all it is our association.
We really only have four viable courses of action:
· Increase our membership.
· Increase our Membership fees.
· Earn additional income.
· Reduce our cost structure.
To bring our finances into balance we can undertake any mix of these actions we choose. (But unfortunately we can’t employ any form of “Quantitative Easing”).
The National Board and Chapter Councils are currently developing materials and suggestions for improving our recruitment of members. We ask each of you, our members to do your best to influence friends and associates to visit and hopefully join the ATAA. If you know former members please suggest rejoining – there is no joining fee for former members - just the annual subscription.
Increasing Membership Fees
While we do not wish to, we may need to increase Membership fees. This, of course, will only be a stop-gap measure if our membership continues to fall.
Earn additional income.
We are exploring the idea of running some paid courses for non-members. Please discuss your ideas with your Chapter President or a Chapter Councillor.
Our major ATAA cost is in venue hire and other expenses for Chapter Meetings. Chapter Councils are considering moving to cheaper venues and also discontinuing the provision of food and drink or asking for a small contribution. We can also minimise speaker travel and accommodation expenses. We may also need to reduce the number of meetings per year – in some Chapters the December and/or January meetings are not well attended. None of these possibilities are palatable but they will all need to be considered.
In 2011 the National Conference was scheduled for Sydney. During the planning stage it was found not to be financially viable as Sydney venues are very expensive in Sept/Oct/Nov. There is also a shortage of good mid range venues and the upper range is very expensive. So, as you know, the Conference was held in Adelaide where the cost structure is cheaper. With the ATAA’s falling numbers the conference numbers also fall and this makes conferences more difficult as break-even points need to be lower. For the 2011 Conference we worked to reduce the cost to the absolute minimum (at the expense of some loss of quality) but still only managed a break-even number.
So, the Board has decided to hold the next conference in Sydney in May/June 2013. This means that there will be no ATAA Conference in 2012. Fortuitously, there will be an IFTA Conference in Singapore that keen ATAA Members can attend.
INO TV has been a ATAA “member service” since 2008. It has never been particularly popular, but at the time it was thought that it may have been a viable replacement for the ATAA DVD Library. This approach has now been discounted. We have had various negotiations with INO and this brought the price to the ATAA down on a previous occasion. We are currently having discussions with them again concerning the cost. Currently it is looking as though our best option is to discontinue the INO TV option.
If you are a keen user of INO TV could you please email me and we will assess the situation, either to review this likely decision or to arrange a transitional path.
The construction of the new website is well advanced. It is currently held up by the need to replace the membership database and this has been a more complex task than originally envisaged. We will continue with this project as fast as we can. The new website will enable a range of new services that can be delivered at lower cost.
In this email we have spelt out the problem and some subsidiary issues, but not all the solutions. The solution is something that we must all work on. National Directors and Chapter Councillors are working on the issues. We would be delighted if you would assist either directly with your Chapter committee or you can email your ideas and thoughts to me for distribution to all Board Members! The association always needs competent committed members to make it function. Your personal effort and help would be greatly appreciated.