These revolutionary ideas about the profession ditching the suit in favour of ‘office casual’ – are all very well for those radical types at Arthur Andersen. But the move has prompted many sniffy comments about the firm’s US roots and the unsavoury encroachment of American business practices (particularly in IT) into the UK. There are also widespread fears, quite understandably, about the fashion disasters likely to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public by those accountants who are a stitch or two short of a sense of style. All those Alan Partridge-style diamond jumpers just send shivers down the spine. Predictably, the backlash has been strongest in that quintessential bastion of Englishness, the county of Essex. ‘We will continue to be smart!’ shouted accountants Neil Hamper and Leigh Petrie, of the South Essex Society of Chartered Accountants, as they leapt to the suit’s defence and began brandishing their brollys. This move was not, apparently, a call to arms for accountants across the country to band together and fight off the down-dressed Yanks with their umbrellas. Rather, it was an attempt to emulate that most British of TV programmes, The Avengers, a series well-known for its taste and fine tailoring. ‘Clients need not fear: standards in Essex are being maintained,’ the dashing duo cried. Thank heavens for that.
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