PricewaterhouseCoopers has advised its new intake of trainees in the Midlands, and a majority in London, to train with the Scottish institute, delivering another heavy blow to the English ICA and its attempts to hang on to its student base. PwC, the biggest provider of students to the beleaguered English institute, follows Ernst & Young in switching new students to ICAS. Further defections could be on the cards after ICAS confirmed it would roll out new training centres south of the border later this year. A source at PwC said it was the availability of training centres that limited the firm to encourage only those students in London and Birmingham to take the Scottish route. ICAS increased its annual student intake from 400 to 650 after reaching a deal with E&Y to provide training to all the firm’s students from the autumn. As part of the E&Y deal, ICAS told Accountancy Age this week that it could soon be making available courses at Bristol and Manchester – a move that could overcome PwC’s ‘practical’ problem of finding locations to train students based in offices outside of London and Birmingham. KPMG – where senior partner Dame Sheila Masters is president of the English ICA – is also encouraging students to opt for ICAS. Deloitte & Touche said this week that it was continuing to review its position. PwC has sent a letter to September starters advising the entire Midlands intake and most of the London recruits to train with the Scottish body. The firm says it will continue to train a majority of students with the English institute but is ‘monitoring developments’ at the two training bodies. Rodger Hughes, head of assurance and business advisory services at PwC, said: ‘We are continuing to offer our students the opportunity to train for both qualifications but are increasing the number of places that we offer outside Scotland to train with the Scottish institute. ‘We anticipate that around 285 students from this year’s intake will train with the Scottish institute, representing about a third of the total.’ John Collier, secretary general of the English ICA, said: ‘If PwC has decided to put that proportion of 2000 intake with ICAS we are very disappointed.’ He added: ‘We are working very closely with firms, particularly the large ones, to develop on a partnership basis a new ACA.’
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