Peter Layhe – Not the way forward for CIMA

Contrary to some misleading information in circulation, CIMA had no prior knowledge of ACCA’s proposals, no part in their creation and was not consulted about the distribution tactics. In fact, CIMA only received notice about an hour before the press briefings.

The quoted justification for this behaviour is that the document’s authors did not want prior discussion and debate because councils exert a debilitating force on proceedings.

The last attempts to bring about changes in the profession did not involve ACCA. They did involve CIMA, though, which learned a number of lessons.

That is why we do not understand why these latest proposals did not:

– appreciate the role played by the CIMA council;

– recognise CIMA members’ support for their democratically elected council;

– understand the different and conflicting demands and needs of accountants in regulated practice areas, such as audit and insolvency, and those in business and the public sector;

– appreciate the increasing probability of a conflict of interests between these two streams;

– recognise that the new body will be a mirror of one deliberately excluded from the proposal, thereby guaranteeing that one will be deemed inferior to the other;

– acknowledge that both will have bureaucracies struggling to manage difficult and recurrent problems caused by the conflicting agendas; and

– appreciate that merging three bodies with different public perceptions of quality and desirability leads to a collective averaging down.

Experience suggests the proposals do not add value to most CIMA members, particularly when they are hustled into giving opinions based on inadequate and possibly misleading information.

The profession may need two independent bodies – but not those anticipated in the proposal, which conveys the belief this is a ploy to take CIMA into an extended ACCA.

So far as the ACCA survey is concerned, we know from experience that members’ approval in principle is always qualified by subsequent caveats.

Industry knows that ‘merger’ is PR-speak for ‘takeover’. There are a number of issues which should be intelligently discussed and will prove to be negotiable or unbridgeable. The proposers hope the showstoppers will be covered by the poll. Unfortunately that will not be so, and the CIMA council, after a full debate, has concluded that the proposals do not form a satisfactory base to go forward. As a member-led organisation, we are again consulting our members.

Peter Layhe is president of CIMA.

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