Merger survey blows debate open

CIPFA members this week blew the merger debate wide open again, with an overwhelming vote in favour of rationalising the profession. But they rejected ACCA as their first-choice partner.

The long-awaited results of CIPFA membership survey, undertaken in September, reveal that more than 90% of members support some form of merger. Additionally, 85% support a body with a common membership designation containing a public services focus.

‘The results of the survey are confirmation of CIPFA council’s long-established policy of supporting rationalisation and harmonisation of the profession,’ said chief executive David Adams. ‘The results are a clear message from CIPFA members that there needs to be a serious and open discussion on how rationalisation could be best achieved.’

Among the results, the survey indicates that CIPFA members are most keen to merge with the English ICA, followed by CIMA. Despite geographical constraints, two thirds of respondents would be happy to merge with the Scottish and Irish institutes.

Of the related issues respondents were requested to rate, equal ranking was given to serving the public interest and improving member services, with 82% of respondents voting for the issues. Less than half regarded the relatively small size of CIPFA as an important influence on their attitude towards merger.

The news will have come as a shock to ACCA, which is rumoured to be ‘keeping the door open’ for CIPFA.

In an attempt to appeal directly to its members and those of CIMA and CIPFA, earlier this year ACCA mailed all 120,000 members of the three bodies.

At the time, Adams poured scorn on ACCA’s proposals, labelling them all ‘misplaced, irrelevant, inept, ingenuous, divisive and dangerous’.

But CIPFA is not ruling out a three-way merger which would enable others to freely join now or in the future. The institute council is due to meet to discuss how best to promote rationalisation in December.

Adams said ACCA’s proposal remains on the table and that CIPFA remains willing to discuss proposals aimed at uniting the profession.

‘Merger should be on an inclusive rather than exclusive basis so that the profession becomes more united and so gains greater respect and influence,’ he said.

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