CIPFA leader says merger commitment still solid

CIPFA, CIMA and the ICAEW remain as committed as ever to a merger despite yesterday’s confirmation that three-way talks have been derailed, according to CIPFA president Mike Barnes.

Link: Institutes confirm two-phase merger process

Speaking at the institute’s annual dinner last night – and just hours after the three institutes announced a twin-track approach to reigniting their merger talks – Barnes said the profession was not well served when ‘unable to speak to the government and others with a unified voice on matters of fundamental importance’.

The two-stage approach, first revealed in this month?s Financial Director magazine, involves a first step with integration of CIPFA and the ICAEW, subject to membership votes later this year. ‘Step two will create the opportunity for CIMA to join the party, probably during 2006,’ Barnes said.

‘All of this remains subject to important detailed discussions and sign off by the relevant governing councils. But I can tell you that there is a real momentum here – and a real sense that key changes are now within our grasp.’

Barnes defended the need for change by adding: ‘I don’t believe that the country is well served when the UK’s contribution to critical international discussions – about standards and ethics and regulation – is presented in a fragmented way.’

Barnes also said the current structure of six institutes did not serve the public. ‘I don’t believe that the public interest is well served by a profession made up of six autonomous chartered bodies, which inevitably places a stronger accent on competition than co-operation’.

But he expressed confidence that change would happen – and soon. ‘The history of the accountancy profession is littered with failed attempts to create a more coherent structure,’ he said. ‘Notwithstanding these daunting precedents, consolidation is a banner that I have been proud to adopt – and one which I believe is absolutely right for 2005.

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