Leader – 3 December

If you think Monday’s announcement about the future regulation of the profession has nothing to do with you, think again. Like corporate governance, regulation always seems like a ‘good thing’ but something other people should worry about. Unless you fall foul of the JDS or your institute, why worry?

Many complacent people argue that what the ‘big’ people do only rarely ever filters down to ‘little’ people like them. But such an argument is dangerous for accountants. Unlike doctors, whose cures become ever more opaque to the layman with every scientific discovery, what accountants do is becoming easier to understand. Indeed, leaders of the profession argue that accountants need to be more like managers.

No one argues this more strongly than CIMA, which wants the profession split into ‘regulated’ public practice and ‘unregulated’ business sectors.

But this is dangerous territory. Give up the principle of a regulated profession and what then is so special about CCAB accountants? Why should anyone bother to hire qualified accountants? The trend toward unqualified people taking over as finance directors is the thin end of this very wedge.

The profession should be grateful to trade minister Ian McCartney for talking tough. A lot of the brand value in the word accountant depends on effective regulation. Without it, accountants would have a harder time competing in the global market.

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