Institutes positive in defeat

Despite lacking the votes needed to merge with CIPFA, ICAEW chief executive
Eric Anstee has claimed a ‘mandate’ to work with the public sector institute and
other bodies towards the rationalisation of the UK accountancy profession.

As the dust settled on Tuesday’s narrow defeat by 540 votes, the ICAEW, CIPFA
and CIMA pledged talks on closer collaboration. ACCA has also said that it wants
stronger links with CIPFA.

‘We have a sufficient mandate to continue to discuss consolidation. I don’t
think six institutes is the way forward,’ Anstee told Accountancy Age when the
vote was announced.

He said the institute would ‘love to have a public services faculty’ and
talks on CIPFA collaboration would continue. ‘We must get as much through as
possible without integration.’

CIMA has kept the door open for a merger with the ICAEW. CIMA president Ian
Christison said the institute would continue with its own strategy until it
heard a response from the ICAEW over earlier points that had stalled its part in
the merger plans.

ACCA chief executive Allen Blewitt called for greater co-operation between
his institute and CIPFA. ‘We will happily talk to CIPFA about how we can help
them to deliver a top-quality service that public sector finance professionals
need in the 21st century,’ he said.

But a spokesman for the body denied it was planning to court CIPFA over a
possible merger.

On a dramatic day at both Guildhall and Chartered Accountants’ Hall, where
the institutes’ votes were revealed simultaneously, the ICAEW fell agonisingly
short of the two-thirds majority required to push the merger through ­ 65.7%
were in favour of the merger while 34.3% were against.

Despite the result, the ICAEW hailed the voting turnout as ‘historic’, after
56,326 members participated ­ a record 44% turnout.

Of the 5,636 CIPFA members who voted, 86.7% were in favour of the merger.

Bruce Lawson, who campaigned against the merger, repeated his call for Anstee to
step down. ‘We want to make sure a merger vote never happens again. We have the
CCAB to represent the profession,’ he said.

Recriminations between the ICAEW and ICAS, which have staged a running battle
over the proposed name of any merged institute, began within hours of the vote.

Anstee slammed ICAS for ‘exposing’ the issue that would have seen the ‘super
institute’ called the Institute of Chartered Accountants. ‘I think it was done
in a way that was unpleasant to the profession,’ he said.

The issue of the suggested name ‘arose prematurely…it was an issue for the
privy council’, agreed CIPFA chief executive Steve Freer.

Des Hudson, ICAS chief executive, said ICAS would be ‘seeking to clarify’
that the super-institute name would ‘no longer be an issue and will not be
pursued further’.

Send your views on the merger vote to

Related reading

BAA logo _360x270