Editorial – Starting a New Year revolution

Contrary to popular opinion, the millennium may not be nigh. In fact, it may well have passed without anyone noticing. A study by an eminent astronomer, published at the close of the old year, suggests that we have just entered 2010, not 1998 as we all suppose. Whether he is right or wrong, something more than the calendar has definitely changed for accountants.

Last year’s Labour victory and the outpouring of public emotion at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, symbolised a profound change in public mood. Deference, particularly to the professions and those who claim to know best how to run their own affairs, is in sharp decline. In its place people now expect frankness and openness.

Against this background, partnership structures, especially for organisations as large as the Big Six, look archaic and secretive. Why should firms who force their clients to account openly for their transactions be immune from the same rules? Increasingly, neither the public nor business leaders can see why.

Self-regulation may in the past have been the mark of a strong profession.

In today’s climate true strength is demonstrated by a willingness to share power and to recognise the public’s interest. A strong profession is brave to change, confident in its own future and willing to be publicly accountable.

New Year resolutions are meant to be tough. This year the profession needs to make them and stick to them.

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