The men and women who run the accountancy institutes take their duties very seriously. Quite self-consciously they strive to be fair, even-handed and to take almost all shades of opinion into account. The one they tend to overlook is that of the public. A more inward-looking profession would be hard to find.
Those engaged in attempts to turn the Swinson committee’s proposals for a public interest oversight Review Board into reality would no doubt, rightly, object that getting agreement is no easy matter. They would argue, also rightly, that they cannot lightly set aside the traditions and distinctive characters of the accountancy bodies. As the former chief executive of a CCAB body once put it, the diversity of the English profession is one of its strengths.
Adopting Mao’s injunction to let a thousand flowers bloom is all very well. But while the profession’s leaders admire the herbaceous borders, those outside the secret garden have a very different view. The attempts by the CCAB bodies to take a pick-and-mix approach to what they will and will not allow the Review Board to oversee, revealed by Accountancy Age this week, look like the worst sort of grubby self-interest. Against a background of growing ministerial impatience with self-regulation of all kinds, this really will not do.
Whatever the difficulties, the profession must all buy into Swinson’s proposals if it is to have any chance of fending off government-imposed external regulation. Do you agree that the profession is in the last chance saloon for self-regulation? Let Accountancy Age know your views with a letter to the editor
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