ACCA set to challenge ICAEW for global top spot

The position of premier UK accounting body may still be held by the ICAEW for
the time being, but figures released by accounting’s watchdog could soon see the
body usurped on the worldwide stage.

An annual study of the key facts and trends in the profession by
accountancy’s watchdog The Financial Reporting Council’s has shown that, between
2003 and 2004, the ICAEW’s membership in the UK and Ireland grew by just 308
members to 110,776, less than 0.3%.

By comparison, ACCA grew nearly 5% with 56,837, while CIMA saw its figures
jump by a similar margin to 51,386.

Worldwide, the situation for the ICAEW looks even bleaker, as ACCA could
overtake it on member numbers in the next couple of years. Membership of the
ICAEW has grown 954 to 126,597, while ACCA’s jumped 6,320 to 104,613. Overall,
ACCA’s global membership has grown 46.2% in the past five years.

At similar rates of growth, and assuming no sudden surges in numbers due to
mergers, the ICAEW could lose its crown by as soon as 2008.

The institute’s reputation as an old boys club also seems to be borne out by
the report. The percentage of female members is the lowest of all six UK and
Irish chartered institutes, and the proportion of women failed to grow beyond
21% in 2004. All other institutes saw growth in female membership during the
year, with ACCA having the highest percentage of females, at 39%.

The age profile of the ICAEW’s membership will also be causing concern to the
institute’s management team. Nearly 15% its worldwide membership is aged 65 or
older, and rival ACCA has more members aged under 45.

Without a significant change of fortunes, the future doesn’t look much
brighter. While both ACCA and CIPFA have seen registered student numbers grow by
over 40% between 1999 and 2004, the ICAEW’s intake has dropped by nearly a

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