I believe the electorate may be deliberately bogged down in technicalities, while I favour the empirical approach. I want to know if the Dollar Area ‘works’? To my mind, the US system is OK if you are in New York or industrial California, but I suspect the rest of the States are ignored and have to get by as best they can.

He confirmed Ireland is already having problems with the present interest rates and it hasn’t yet faced a recession. But one rate is never going to be good for the whole area.

In UK we have had Eddie George telling us that he can’t reconcile the needs of industrial Britain with the house inflation in London, so the industrialists can be left to rot in the interest of the Greater London area. If that is the case on these small islands, what chance do we stand as an insignificant off-shore appendage of the euro zone?

Clearly these factors are more significant than whether or not a few of us incur bank charges when we are converting travelling expenses.

I don’t want to play with words, but it would appear that convergence implies the coming together of two separate entities. Now this will ultimately lead to one of two alternatives – either they will collide or else they will miss and continue to hurtle through space but, having passed, they will diverge!

I really would like to be told what the significance of convergence has to the euro argument if we will diverge subsequently. Nobody has yet had the temerity to suggest that we will continue together, and a lot of experts have said we are not on the same business cycle as ‘the rest of Europe’.

The result of us colliding seems more likely, with potentially disastrous results for us, and perhaps for Europe too. I am yet to be convinced that we will benefit.

Please keep this debate going.

John Bradley, Allendale

Has Sir David lost the point?

It seems that Sir David Tweedie has missed the point on the reasons why companies issue share options to employees. In the article (On employee share options, p14, 20 July) he seems to think it is a way of allowing companies to pay their employees without having to account for it! Options are much more a way of adding a shareholder dimension to their employment than dodging employment costs.

The idea of share option schemes in my own company, as in other new technology enterprises, is it gives employees a personal stake in the company. This means they can participate in its success in the same way as its shareholders. You might argue option holders do not have the same monetary risks as shareholders, but conversely, shareholders (certainly the external ones) do not share the job insecurity which option holders bear. In many start ups this is a big risk.

To take his argument further, surely Sir David is not suggesting we should account for gains in share prices by increasing share premium account to reflect the current market price of quoted shares with the double entry being a charge to p & l for the gain? Thus, any company whose share price is in danger of rising significantly, should immediately issue a profit warning to its shareholders, ensuring the share price never rises!

Think again Sir David.

David Rix, Tadcaster

I’m definitely not a fat cat

They have raised the audit limit! The kind of accounts that I have had to modify as an auditor makes one want to weep. I for one, would certainly not trust any financial statements that are not audited particularly if they have not been produced by a qualified accountant.

No one would expect someone to set up shop as a doctor ready to operate on and diagnose cancer patients unless they are fully qualified to do so. Indeed they would be arrested if they tried otherwise, once they have been caught.

So why do we have the situation where any Tom, Dick or Harry after a one-week home book-keeping course can set up and call themselves accountants and tax specialists, let loose on the general public (I know of actual cases personally and I am sure other practitioners have their own stories to tell).

John Bridgeman, director general of the Office of Fair Trading, said: ‘Customers need a choice of professional services which are provided efficiently and to a high standard’ – how would having more “cowboy accountants” help?

Qualified people like myself trying to make ends meet and running a small practice, are spending whole weekends attending CPD training and suffering increased costs and overheads on compliance measures meant to safeguard the public. I work over 60 hours a week and would consider myself as a very lean cat … if a cat at all, but certainly not fat.

Why don’t they think of something that does actually help us and give customers the high standard of professional services that John Bridgeman suggests. Is it because they do not live in the same world and cannot therefore do so?


Problems in the profession

I am writing in response to Quentin Langley’s letter (Disagreeing on fast track, p15, 20 July).

He states that of the elements which make the CIPFA qualification unique are financial and strategic management skills. I am sure all of the other accountancy bodies would disagree. Each institute’s syllabus now features a heavy emphasis on strategic and financial management skills. He also states public services ethics as a selling point. I am sure he did not inadvertently mean to upset non-CIPFA accountants like myself who also consider themselves to act ethically.

I am sure that Mr Langley is only doing his job as CIPFA’s communications director. Trying to sell another accountancy qualification to an accountant is probably difficult. Pointing out the alleged uniqueness is the obvious way of convincing someone to buy something they already have.

However, does it not illustrate the problem with the UK accountancy profession which is that we have too many institutes? It is confusing for the public.

Some specialise in the public sector, some can be registered to audit company accounts under the Companies Act, others have a more managerial bias. The word ‘accountant’ has no standard meaning.

A visit to the IFAC website reveals most countries have a smaller number of institutes than the UK. Would the leaders of our professional bodies not be more gainfully employed looking at rationalising this rather than being engaged in trying to poach members off each other or convince accountants that it is in their best interests to pay two lots of annual subscriptions rather than one?

T Gorman via e-mail

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