Exclusive: Global CAs set for 2003

The English and Scots ICAs have held talks with institutes in Ireland, the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

Accountancy Age understands that initial soundings have been met with a positive reaction to the idea of a global qualification bolstered by country-specific specialisms.

Last week the eight institutes annonced plans to create an international business qualification. It is the first time the institutes have agreed to conduct such a significant piece of work together.

The move is being seen as an attempt by the institutes to stave off the threat that Big Five firms might decide to go it alone and train their own students.Senior partners within the Big Five have openly discussed the possibility of introducing their own DTI recognised qualification in recent years.

With last year’s high-profile decisions by Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers to train an increasing number of students with the Scots rather than the English ICA, there are fears that those talks could be revived.

Any such move would be a massive blow to the long-term viability of the institutes. In the UK some 60% of English institute students come from the Big Five.

David Cairns, English ICA UK project co-ordinator, said: ‘A global CA qualification may happen and is something we are looking at. Interested parties have given a varying degree of positive support to the idea.’

PwC head of assurance and business advisory services, Rodger Hughes, said: ‘We have been pushing for a global accountancy qualification as a general concept for some time. We are hoping the institutes move onto something which is core and recognised around the world. This first step is important but it is equally important the institute’s keep the momentum going.’

In the short-term, the institutes’ task force will discuss the development of an international business qualification, available to professionals from a broad range of disciplines and likely to be marketed as a rival to conventional MBA.

There are no firm proposals as yet, but the task force – led by Robin Hamilton Harding, former CFO of Bell Canada – plans to have a concrete outline on the table by the summer to be presented to the institutes by the autumn.

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