Sir Peter Kemp – Get high with a little help…

The English ICA is currently engaged in elections to fill ten vacancies on its council. There are 13 candidates. Naturally, as a member with a vote, I turned with great interest to the supporting documentation which gave us these candidates’ – generally, not very interesting – personal manifestos, and also, and much more interestingly, the names of the people who have nominated them.

Now what is amazing about the candidates, and their nominators, is the way the names kept coming up over and over again. Thus, it was fascinating to see that Anne Jenkins was nominated by Clive Parritt, himself a candidate, who was nominated by Susan Gompels, who, in turn, was herself a candidate, who then we find was being nominated by Anne Jenkins, thus completing the circle. Douglas Llambias was nominated by Anita Monteith, also a candidate, but he himself nominated the aforesaid Susan Gompels, while Anita Monteith joined with Susan Gompels to nominate Dennis Cox. It was almost a relief to find the circle stopped there. And throughout all this, there are the big tigers who come up constantly as nominators – your Peter Wymans (four times), your Ian Hay-Davisons (four times), and your Paul Ruttemans (twice).

Does it matter? No doubt the people who stand for office and their underwriters are all deeply sincere in their belief that they are doing and saying the right thing. But if council is to count, then there is a need to avoid anything that looks like cronyism, particularly at a time when self-regulation of the institute, indeed the profession as a whole, is under scrutiny, chaps looking after chaps, and all that.

It would be easy to develop a better approach. Four simple rules would help. First, no nominator should put his or her name to more than one candidate. Second, no candidate should themselves be a nominator and no nominator should be a candidate. Third, no existing member of the council should be a nominator. And fourth, no one should serve on the council for more than, say, six years.

All this would help deal with this circularity and insiderness. And it would, of course, help open up the council, and rejuvenate it both in spirit and in years. Looking at the present list, only four out of thirteen candidates – David McBride, David Howard Adams, Maura Keane and Syed Naqvi – met these tests. They got my vote. For my other six votes, I let them go. It all seemed too cosy.

Sir Peter Kemp is chief executive of the Foundation for Accountancy and Financial Management.

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