Ernst & Young’s decision to switch new students from training with the English to the Scots ICA could not have come at a worse time for Moorgate Place mandarins. After a three-day council meeting in Northampton, officials had finally secured council agreement for changes to its education and training and believed the new syllabus would persuade firms like E&Y to stay in the fold. Briefings were planned for early the following week to tell the world of the historic changes. Then it all started to unravel. On the Sunday, officials were shocked to learn of E&Y’s plans and the nature of those briefings changed. That day, there weren’t many smiling faces at Chartered Accountants Hall. Senior officials at rival institutes also admitted surprise. ‘We only knew about it when we opened up our papers on the Tuesday,’ said one. E&Y itself wasn’t crowing, conceding it hadn’t given the English institute much time to deal with the news. ‘The timing was a little tight,’ acknowledged one insider. Up in Edinburgh it was a very different story. The same degree of reticence was conspicuous by its absence. ‘We’ve got a good product which Ernst & Young likes,’ boasted Professor Ian Marrian, acting chief executive of ICAS. ‘We are not competing as such. Ernst & Young came and spoke to us.’ On the surface it seemed another example of the natural reserve of the English being overshadowed by the gregariousness of the Scots. But TS suspects it runs deeper than national stereotypes. It’s simply the confidence of the victor knocking the defeated for six.
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