ICA plans fee cut

Chartered accountants working in business could get cheaper subscriptions to the English ICA than members working in practice, under plans being developed.

The proposal is under discussion as part of a major review of the institute’s finances, and reflects concerns that business members are not getting value for money compared to those in practice.

Business members form about half of the institute’s membership, but are regarded as something of a silent majority when influencing institute affairs and using its services.

This is of concern to its president, KPMG partner, Dame Sheila Masters, who is keen to develop the principle of ‘user pays’ for institute services.

In a recent interview with Accountancy Age, she said the Board of Chartered Accountants in Business (BCAB), an institute group which provides services to business members, had done much to ‘put some stakes in the ground’.

But she argued that she still met business members who didn’t feel as if they belonged to the institute ‘in a true sense’.

She said: ‘One of the things we are looking at is how the financial system of the institute works and who we spend money on. If we find we spend less money on business members, we should charge them a lower subscription or up the amount of resource we devote to them.’

Dame Sheila returned to this theme in her address to the institute’s council last Wednesday as she took over from former president Chris Swinson.

Graham Ward, a PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, became deputy president and Michael Groom, a consultant, vice-president.

Financial reforms to the institute were boosted at the institute’s agm last week. A resolution was passed altering bye-laws allowing changes, although they would still have to be approved by a majority of members voting. Sources suggested the reforms could be introduced within two years.

The existing subscription is £152, or £126 for members of less than five years.

News analysis, page 16; Leader, page 20; ICA feature, page 23.

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