Umbrella body under threat as ICAS denounces merger

by Damian Wild and Karen Day

23 Jun 2005

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The future of the UK accountancy profession’s umbrella body was under threat this week, after ICAS was accused of using ‘spoiling tactics’ designed to derail merger talks between CIPFA and the ICAEW.

Link: CIMA outlines merger demands

The ICAEW said it would ‘revisit’ its collaboration with the Scottish institute through the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies, in light of comments made by ICAS chief executive Des Hudson.

Writing in this week’s Accountancy Age, Hudson said the planned merger of ICAEW and CIPFA was based on ‘unproven beliefs’. He said that the argument that ‘one monolithic institute’ would be a more effective lobbyist was an ‘unconvincing’ one.

ICAEW chief executive Eric Anstee responded angrily, saying he may look to ‘realign’ the institute’s funding of the CCAB. As it has the largest membership, the ICAEW is the biggest funder of the 21-year-old body. ‘If ICAS wants to have an equal voice, it must have an equal share of the budget,’ said Anstee.

He warned that the institute’s senior members may also want to consider withdrawing from the committee, which he conceded would leave ICAS ‘in difficulty’. Anstee added: ‘We will revisit collaboration in future. We will look after our own members and leave them to look after theirs.’

The CCAB has taken more of a backseat role in regulatory reform since the formation of the Financial Reporting Council. But it is still influential, particularly on accountants’ training and international matters.

ICAEW and CIPFA members will vote on the merger proposals in October, while CIMA is in favour of joining ‘in principle’ at a later stage.

CIMA chief executive Charles Tilley said the management accountants' institute was ‘a strong supporter and key member of CCAB’. He added: ‘We have a policy at the moment I’m entirely happy with. How we move forward in the future depends on the circumstances.’

CIPFA chief executive Steve Freer said the public sector body would push ahead with consolidation. ‘We don’t have any intention of responding to spoiling tactics that risk damaging CCAB and the profession long term.’

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