ACCA shock merger plan

ACCA this week took the accountancy world by surprise by launching a direct appeal to members of CIMA and CIPFA to merge with it to create what would be Europe’s largest accountancy body.

Merger main points below

A brochure, mailed on Tuesday to all 120,000 members of the three institutes, outlined a structure combining business, public-sector and practice streams.

ACCA chief executive Anthea Rose said the mailing was the start of a ten-week publicity campaign which would include market research interviews with members of the three institutes.

Rose said the decision to go direct to members over the heads of the CIPFA and CIMA councils was deliberate, although the chief executives of the two bodies were informed in advance. Previous merger attempts had foundered in council wrangles and ACCA wanted to know the authentic views of members before putting its proposal formally to council members.

She said she hoped the proposal would be put to all three institutes’ annual meetings next year. It will need Privy Council approval but Rose said the new merged institute could be operational as early as 2000.

In the proposal document, ACCA said the new body, as yet unnamed, would give members of the institutes a better range of services both in the UK and internationally. ACCA president Michael Foulds said: ‘This is a model that should find a resonance with everybody.’

Foulds said the decision was driven by government pressure for fewer institutes and requirements of an increasingly global profession. It would have greater influence with governments and other organisations.

Foulds stressed the new body would be ‘an equal partnership’ and would not be dominated by ACCA, which has 60,000 members, compared with CIMA’s 47,000 and CIPFA’s 13,000.

ACCA said its plans for governance offered ‘enhanced accountability’ with a democratically elected 30-member council similar to its own, rather than the co-opting system in the other institutes.

ACCA said qualifications and training in the proposed organisation would be standardised, benefiting the 200,000 students in the combined institutes.

CIPFA chief executive David Adams said there was an argument for a strong unified UK profession in the global accountancy market but feared the ACCA approach risked polarising the profession into chartereds and the rest. CIPFA member Labour MP Harry Cohen said: ‘This is not the way to go about it. We need agreement.’

Austin Mitchell, Labour MP, said: ‘It is not helpful to start consulting other people’s members before you have agreed proposals with their governing bodies.’

Rank and file reaction, page 2


– ‘Compact’ 30-member central council will oversee the new body’s operations

– Three divisions for business (78,000 members), public sector (24,000 members) and practice (18,000 members), each with its own 18-24 member steering committee

– 70-member representative assembly to provide forum for all members to voice views

– Centralised core functions, including syllabus and examinations, professional conduct and regulation, and finance and IT, would save ‘at least #2.5m’ a year to ‘be passed on to members in the form of improved and additional services’

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