Plan to relax chartered rule

The English ICA has moved to relax strict rules about which firms can call themselves chartered accountants.

Members will be asked to vote on the proposals in June. Both ACCA and CIMA said the green light given by the institute’s council earlier this month to abolish its ‘75% rule’ reflects the growing influence of their own members.

Under the old rule, three-quarters of a firm’s partners have to be institute members for it to call itself a firm of chartered accountants.

If members back the proposal, this would be reduced to 50% with voting control.

The move comes in the wake of growing concerns about the increasing tendency of firms not to describe themselves as chartered accountants, outlined in a report by institute president Chris Swinson.

He argued this tendency could only reflect adversely on the status of chartered accountants and the institute.

Supporters of the change say it will help members wanting to form practices with members of other accountancy bodies, or with professionals from other related fields such as personal finance.

Larger firms, which are employing increasing numbers of lawyers, corporate financiers and other professionals, are also expected to benefit from the move.

Anthony Booth, an ACCA director, said that the fact that the English ICA was having to change the rules to accommodate ACCA partners in firms was a reflection of the association’s success.

Jake Claret, deputy secretary of CIMA, said the change reflected the widening scope of audit and other work, which was driving up demand for the business skills of his members.

John Malthouse, chairman of the English ICA’s general practitioners board, said: ‘In many cases, members want to go into partnership with someone who is highly competent, but not a member. If this change helps, I will be satisfied.’

The institute’s council has also recommended ending a ban on member firms adding to the chartered accountant title. If agreed, they will be able to call themselves chartered accountants and business advisers, management consultants or tax consultants.

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