Leader: Tough Tilley has dragged CIMA into new territory

AFTER 15 YEARS, in which the accounting profession and the world it operates in has changed dramatically, Charles Tilley is to finally step down as chief executive of CIMA.

And while we’ve all been through the dotcom bust, Enron/WorldCom, the credit crisis and subsequent recessions – let alone social and political upheaval – CIMA is still here in one piece.

Well we say one piece, but Tilley has led the institute through what could be simplistically described as a branding diversification – aligning a global management accounting designation with our friends across the pond the AICPA.

That Tilley is to leave CIMA but sit as executive chairman of CGMA Research Foundation, a part-time role in which he will promote the designation, shows how wedded he is to the strategy of creating a global body.

This desire has put noses out of joint, make no mistake. Accountancy Age has had its ear burned on numerous occasions with complaints about him having an autocratic style. Remember the painful litigation that CIMA went through, putting its very governance into question?

He has led from the front on many other tough decisions, and hasn’t always won. CIMA’s council voted against plans to merge with the ICAEW and CIPFA back in 2004.

Unhappy with the cost effectiveness of backing a body that it believed was serving the audit profession, CIMA also left the umbrella group of UK accountancy bodies the CCAB. This was move criticised by Accountancy Age for leaving the profession without a unified voice.

But for all the drama, there are some clear facts. CIMA has 103,000 members. In 2002, it had 45,000.

Whether CIMA disappears in the future from a ‘reverse takeover’ by its global designatory offshoot, or even if mere its existence continues to irk some of its members, you can’t deny the ambition of Tilley, or his character.

The oft-pedestrian world of accounting institutes will certainly be even quieter without this character.

Kevin Reed is head of editorial for Accountancy Age and Financial Director

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