DOES THE UK profession really need a single voice?
After CIMA quit its membership of the UK profession’s forum, the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB), concerns have been raised about the lack of a single voice for UK accountancy.
The CCAB, which saw the major UK institutes meet up to discuss issues affecting their members, is now without CIMA. The institute quit over the cost effectiveness of supporting a body that it believes is more focused on audit.
CIMA is better off going it alone to lobby for the interests of members in senior financial management roles, it believes.
Its argument holds some weight. The key issues that the CCAB has lobbied on in recent years have been practice or tax-related.
Changes to revenue recognition accounting rules flustered professional services firms, worried they would face cashflow problems. The CCAB had limited success in persuading the government to put back the changes. It also fought unsuccessfully for the term ‘accountant’ to be protected in law.
The limited extent to which the institutes work together as one has not been decided by the lack of issues affecting its members, but is perhaps more down to a lack of consensus.
Both the ICAEW and ACCA have well-established policy units, and links with government ministers. They are quite happy to make their own representations when it suits.
CIMA told Accountancy Age that its move would effectively free the institute up to speak more stridently on issues, rather than take a route of joint agreement that inevitably leads to the “lowest common denominator”.
“We might have had an energetic position that can’t come out,” said CIMA governance and professional standards director Robin Vaughan. “You’ll now hear our distinctive and authentic voice.”
Another area where CIMA might have a bigger say is in its membership of global institute umbrella body IFAC.
A major contributor to the body, Vaughan believes its separation from the CCAB will place CIMA in a stronger position to nominate its staff to IFAC’s council – currently the ICAEW’s Robert Hodgkinson represents the six UK accountancy bodies.
The remaining five institutes intend to carry on regardless with its own umbrella body, albeit under a different moniker. However, it seems unclear whether a CCAB replacement is required, with the institutes often happy to plough their own furrow.
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