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Setting the wheels for debate in motion

Having read with interest the correspondence in your recent Letters page, I should like to propose a debate. The motion would be: ‘This House believes that there should be no further relaxation of the audit requirement for small companies’.

I would be prepared to speak in favour. If John Malthouse and Jane Grant would be good enough to indicate their willingness to join me in proposing the motion, with Peter Mitchell, John Harris and one other to oppose it, please would they contact me at the telephone or fax number below.

I will then see if our institute would be prepared for Chartered Accountants’ Hall to be used as a venue.



Tel: 0181-265 3562

Fax: 0181-698 7573

Audits for owner managers. Who needs them?

John Malthouse (Letters, 6 February 1997) accuses me of wildly misquoting him. All I am asking him for is:

1. To give me an example of how an audit adds value to an owner-managed business and I do not mean by preparing sets of accounts properly, I mean auditing and completing audit papers to JMU satisfactory standard and;

2. Would he tell if when doing an audit of an owner managed business he has ever found anything significantly wrong that he would not have found had the accounts been prepared properly in the first place.



Reorganisation: ACCA’s mission not impossible

In his letter ‘Members will lose from ACCA reorganisation (Letters, 13 February 1997), Ken Kilvington has been selective with the information he was quoted.

The essence of his letter is that ACCA’s educational interests have priority over its other activities and responsibilities. He provides a description of ACCA’s purpose which appears to support this view. In fact, ACCA’s current mission statement deals not merely with providing professional opportunities to people of ability and application but with ‘leading the accountancy profession in the UK and internationally and working in the public interest’. These strategic objections, and the wide range of services which support them, benefit all existing members as well as ACCA students who form the future of the profession.

ACCA is, indeed, the ‘world’s foremost provider of accountancy examinations’ and our new members are, indeed, ‘what ACCA is all about’. This is not, however, the pursuit of growth for its own sake. Rather, it is a recognition that, if ACCA is properly to safeguard its members’ interests, it has to be more than a narrowly focused representative body. ACCA’s continued success is firmly based on investing in students – the members of the future – as well as on ensuring that the services which we offer to members continue to reflect their changing needs.


Chief executive


Subtracted-value exams for institutes

Ken Kilvington (Letters, 13 February) in his letter on ACCA’s proposals for reorganisation, suggests I would like to see CIMA following the same route as ACCA and offering devalued examinations. True, I believe CIMA should consider its own technician qualification, but I do not believe that such a qualification devalues examinations.

The ACCA technician qualification will start at a lower level than traditional CCAB examinations but will bring the students up to at least foundation level. Indeed, the breadth of subjects of the technician qualification will give the candidates a better grounding than the foundation.

CIMA does not need me to devalue its examinations. It is quite capable of shooting itself in both feet by having an outmoded examination structure that requires students to resit examinations in which they have satisfied the examiners.

The move by ACCA towards promoting the technician qualification is largely motivated by three factors:

Disenchantment with the AAT’s decision to compete by applying for Reporting Accountant status;

Disenchantment with the AAT’s decision to move upwards to level five of the NCVQ, that is the same level as ACCA;

The sheer incompetence of the AAT’s handling of overseas students that has left thousands of students overseas in limbo with a partial AAT qualification.

Admittedly, the ACCA moves will do nothing to draw the UK accounting profession together. The easy solution is to get the CCAB to act as the spokesperson for the profession. It is healthy for the accounting bodies to compete in terms of examinations, but less so in trying to influence the Government and the public.



Government has head in sand over millennium costs

Two main points emerge regarding the computer millennium problem, particularly in view of the fact that software which will be subject to the change of date is still being sold and installed. First, what is the likely cost to UK business of solving the problem and, secondly, what is the overall attitude of the Government?

A recent report (Financial Times, 10 January) explained that the cost to BT of putting its systems in order is u700m, or 5% of BT’s annual turnover.

According to figures published by the DTI, the total annual turnover of UK businesses is around u3,500bn. If each UK business spent 5% of its turnover coming to terms with the year 2000 problem, the cost would be u175bn – a colossal figure considering it would be spent over a short period of time and in a relatively narrow sphere of operations.

The Government has so far not shown much sense of urgency in tackling the looming disruption. Its reply to parliamentary questions as to the estimated cost of preparing public sector computers for the year 2000 has been to say that it has the matter under review.


Head of Economics,

Chantrey Vellacott, London

I’m certified and proud of it

I refer to the back page of your magazine (Taking Stock, 6 February), in particular the article headed ‘ACCA in need of friends’.

As a member of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, I get rather annoyed when I see such articles. How do you expect the association to portray a more ‘glamorous’ standing when organisations like yours publish such defamatory articles.

I studied up to seven years in total for both my AAT and ACCA exams and consider myself to be worthy and equal to any ICA or CIMA member.

Publish that!



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