As a major face-saving exercise got underway, it emerged that CIMA’s council had voted unanimously to send the plans back to the drawing board.
The news suggested that the institutes had been overly optimistic when they launched the merger plan in September, stating that it had received an ‘in principle’ yes from each of the governing Councils.
One CIMA council member told Acccountancy Age: ‘We approached this honestly from the start and said we would be in favour of consolidating the profession, but we are not prepared to accept CIMA being subsumed into the ICAEW along with everything management accounting stands for.’
Key sticking points are understood to include having The Institute of Chartered Accountants as the new name for the merged body, increased fees for CIMA members, and an electoral process that was deemed likely to produce an ICAEW-dominated council.
Determined to remain upbeat, the institutes released a joint press release entitled ‘consolidation concept approved’.
The release skirted over the fact that, while CIMA’s council continues to agree in broad principal to the ‘concept’ of consolidation, it is at loggerheads with the ICAEW over the detail.
Roland Kaye, CIMA President, said: ‘A huge amount of effort has gone into defining the shape of the new Institute. Each organisation has distinct strengths and defined interests, and it is important to get the proposals absolutely right. Our Council concluded that the current proposals did not yet recognise the distinctiveness of CIMA.’
Paul Druckman and Mike Barnes, the Presidents of the ICAEW and CIPFA, said in a joint statement: ‘These are complex discussions and we are conscious of the past history, but we are continuing to work together to identify the best possible proposition for members.’
CIPFA’s council, which was the first of the trio to meet, is believed to have backed the proposals, while the ICAEW’s meeting on 20 December was likely to have focussed on how to resolve the impasse with CIMA.
All hope now focuses on continuing discussions aimed at forging a new blueprint to put to councils, probably in February.
If the current problems can be resolved, a member vote – origianlly evisaged for ‘early to mid’-2005 – would now go ahead in the summer.
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