KPMG insists again that institute consolidation is the future for the ICAEW, as tensions within the body following Eric Anstee’s departure came to the fore
Neil Lerner, global head of regulatory at KPMG, said: ‘It would be far better
if there were one professional body.’
Critics of merger proposals, however, insisted that the body should move on
from merger plans and instead concentrate on dealing with the interests of
smaller practices, whom they believe have been ignored during Anstee’s tenure.
Lerner said that consolidation had not been the full focus of Anstee’s
agenda, and the institute would have to bear in mind the views of those that
voted down the merger attempt with CIPFA. ‘The members have to be taken along,’
Anstee’s detractors, however, said his departure should pave the way for the
institute to concentrate on appointing a ‘secretary-general type’.
Bruce Lawson, who set up Members Against Consolidation last year to fight
against the institute’s merger plans with CIPFA, said the institute was wrong to
appoint a chief executive in the first place.
Lawson said that a more ‘practice-focused’ head was required as Anstee’s
replacement, and the retiring chief executive had ‘lost the plot’ and angered ‘a
lot of members’ over the merger attempt. ‘We don’t need someone dynamic trying
to take over the world, we’re all paying for grandiose schemes,’ said Lawson.
The institute’s failed merger last year with CIMA and CIPFA was being
pinpointed as the major reason for the timing of Anstee’s departure, though he
insisted he had planned to go at this stage in any case.
The merger proposals were hotly opposed by a vocal minority, largely thought
to represent the small practitioners within the institute, but was backed by the
heads of Big Four firms and key institute members.
Anstee defended his record on smaller practices this week, saying that the
institute’s continuing professional development schemes had ‘aligned members’
interests’ with their needs.
Speaking in a podcast interview with AccountancyAge.com, he also said that
the institute had turned around its international presence during his time in
the role. ‘Before the institute was in reverse, given that business is global,’