THE ICAEW is trying to find its small practice mojo, and the early signs suggest that institute logo Economia has that twinkle in her eye again.
It is of course, early days. The ICAEW’s Practice Centre, formed in February, is intended to support and represent its accounting practice members. The previous structure, under an advisory board, was criticised for having too many big firm representatives.
But early indicators suggest that the centre’s efforts to re-establish good local links with firms have already proved popular.
“We want to reestablish [links] in some places where we’ve lost contact with the districts, dealing with practice representatives at a local level. We spoke with district societies [recently] and have had unanimous support,” said Gill Sykes, head of the ICAEW’s practice services.
A working committee of 15 members from practice will steer the centre, and help to extend its reach beyond Moorgate Place.
Howard Gross, Practice Centre committee chairman and partner in Gross Klein, said that he felt the ICAEW and committee members were “totally committed to wanting this to work”.
The committee will look to identify emerging issues and garner views from the membership. “It’s not a technical committee,” said Gross.
Importantly, the centre has reporting lines directly into the institute’s member services board through to ICAEW director of member services Sharon Gunn – placing more responsibility on the centre than perhaps was the case for other structures.
Discussion over what will form the potential replacement for UK GAAP is on the centre’s agenda, as are a number of tax issues. The burden of red tape on smaller firms is likely to be a long-term focus.
To deal with a wide range of matters the centre will not be siloed, instead working with other parts of the institute to help encourage debate and form opinions.
One of the loudest voices on the institute’s treatment of smaller practice issues – Society of Professional Accountants chairman Peter Mitchell – will sit on the committee. Along with Gross, who is vice-chairman of the SPA, a total of three SPA reps will sit on the committee.
However, Gross is at pains to point out that friction is the last thing on either the SPA or ICAEW’s minds. “We all want the same thing,” said Gross.
But as the SPA points out in its own newsletter: “[The] SPA will continue to support its members, pursue issues and make representations both to ICAEW and government whilst keeping a close eye on the progress and development of this new body.”
The goodwill is there to make the centre a success, but if it doesn’t deliver then the failure will be very public.
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