Letters – 8 July

No real threat to CIPFA

In response to Ian Perkin’s article (1 July), I would like to make a few observations.

First, CIPFA is no more at threat than any other professional body, and to suggest that we are ignoring the normal competitive pressure which any successful organisation faces is quite misleading.

Second, we have recently launched a major revision to our examinations’ syllabus to ensure its continued success and to win over an increased number of students. In designing our syllabus we invested heavily in focus groups to ensure that we understood and responded to the needs of our prospective students and their employers. That Perkin is unhappy with our new marketing strategy is unfortunate but, quite frankly, it targets the very students who will ensure our continued growth and success as the primary public services accountancy body.

Third, the place to influence the hearts and minds of fellow committee and council members is within the committee meetings. The fact that Perkin was not successful last year should, if his primary interest really is in ensuring CIPFA’s success, encourage him to accept my offer to rejoin CIPFA’s Education & Training Committee and be more persuasive in his arguments in the forthcoming year .

Chris Hurford, CPFA, chairman, CIPFA Education and Training Committee

ACCA letter exposure In your letters column (10 June) you carried two letters under the headline ‘Gobsmacked by ACCA’. In the first, and longer of the two letters, the correspondent describes what he says took place at ACCA’s agm in early May. Mr Mark Shetty, of London W1, is not a member of ACCA and no one of that name attended our agm. I wish to record my considerable disappointment that Accountancy Age should publish a letter which is almost certainly manufactured.

In the case of the second letter, allegedly from Mr Nigel Warburton of Bury in Lancashire, again we do not have a member of that name nor did anyone using that name attend our agm. Genuine correspondents are, of course, entitled to express their views and the editor is free to publish them. However, the value of Accountancy Age as a positive forum for debate must be diminished by the publication of dubious letters such as these.

Anthea Rose, chief executive, ACCA

… Douglas Broom, editor of Accountancy Age writes: We are grateful to Mrs Rose for drawing this to our attention. Efforts are made to check the authenticity of letters sent for publication and I would like to apologise for the fact that they failed on this occasion.

It is not our policy to publish letters sent either anonymously or under a pseudonym. We are, however, prepared to publish letters ‘name and address supplied’, but only where the writer has actually supplied their name and address to us and given a strong reason why their name should be withheld.

In the light of this abuse of our letters page, we will not, in future, accept any letter for publication unless it includes a daytime telephone number.

Fee changes welcomed Thank you for your balanced and detailed coverage of the English ICA education vote in the 17 June issue.

As a chartered accountant in commerce, I need to declare my hand and welcome wholeheartedly the initiative shown by our new president in proposing differential fees. Specifically, any attempt to redress the somewhat disproportionate allocation of resources between those members interested in the select electives as a potential revenue stream and those who believe in the merit of a qualitative uniform standard such as the gold standard used to be, should be embraced on equitable grounds.

I believe the English ICA’s strength lies in the fact that it has always been a broad church open to all who pass the rigorous standard at its entrance doors and, if a common faith is no longer an adequate platform upon which to build post-qualification, then perhaps the fruit must wither on the vine. Pre-qualification specialisation will now be consigned, finally, to the same location as those other dinosaurs so oft referred to on these occasions.

Finally, I do not believe that apathy was the reason for the low poll percentage, rather the fear that the result was a foregone conclusion and that the ‘training cartel’ had won the day, not by virtue of reasoned argument but by threats of dissolution.

I hope I am wrong in my assessment, but the resultant hue and (out) cry speaks volumes.

Nigel Collin MA, FCA, New Malden, Surrey

Avoiding the Boot Camp I enjoyed reading the letter in the 17 June edition penned by the partner who is clearly being dragged kicking and screaming into the methods of the Boot Camp.

My firm has not been Boot Camped, as we have found our own ways of revolutionising the way we work and providing value to our clients.

Whatever method one adopts to change the practice of a firm, I am sure certain principles hold true. One is that the commitment and belief in the change process must come from the top. ‘Name and address supplied’ may think that the motivation of his team is high. While he is so clearly cynical of methods crucial to modern business, I seriously doubt if he has got anywhere near realising the full potential of the members of his team.

Ian Smith FCA, FCCA, Worcester

The big guys looking small Why do large companies such as House of Fraser and Rentokil take such pride in being late payers?

Presumably their policy is to pay only when they have received value for the onsale and they congratulate themselves they are letting their suppliers finance their stockholding.

However, suppliers will obviously include financing costs in their prices.

Are these big companies saying their treasury departments are so inefficient and/or their credit rating is so bad they cannot beat the overdraft rates typically paid by smaller businesses?

In any event, it is an infinitely better discipline to have stockholding costs properly identified in-house. Companies can then concentrate on ordering the best-priced product in the appropriate quantities at the appropriate time and keep stock and costs to a minimum.

Ian Stewart, CIPFA, Woolwich plc

Frankenstein firms in Top 50 Top 50 firms. Allegedly. A useful addition to the list ‘which is used daily by businesses large and small looking for the right adviser’ would be whether the so-called firms really are.

I am thinking of the selection of federations and other amalgams who I am delighted to see undergoing internecine squabbles from time to time.

Paul Etherington, Wokingham, Berkshire

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