Letters – 25 March

A broader perspective

As a geneticist who joined Coopers & Lybrand in 1982, I found Jonathon Chaytor’s letter (11 March) both ignorant and offensive. Personally, I chose genetics as a degree because I was intrigued by the various element of heredity. Equally, I then decided to pursue a career in accountancy as the best method of accruing business skills.

Clearly as the most junior member of the audit team I was not sensitive to all the subtleties and nuances of each organisation I was required to ‘tick and bash’. However, I never ceased to be amazed by the perception of the more senior staff; not least the partner, remote from the detailed work.

Now, as a managing director, I can understand how their insights were gained. Quite simply, one does not need to count the trees to understand the health of the forest.

Gordon Walters BSc (molecular genetics), ACA …What is ‘offbeat’? I spent three years at Liverpool university to obtain my degree in genetics.

On the course one prepares, collects and makes use of numbers and statistical information. These are processed, interpreted and an opinion/conclusion is stated so that those who have not been involved in the detail can be made aware of the result.

Does this sound familiar?

I would hope that whatever its failings, accountancy is able to take people from arts or sciences degree courses, as well as directly from school or after other ‘outside’ experience. It is the training that is given once we start on the accountancy ladder and our ability to use it that matters, not what we did previously.

John England, tax accountant, FirstGroup plc

…I graduated and worked as a research chemist for a ‘blue-chip’ chemical company which encouraged suitable chemists to transfer and qualify as accountants.

I believe the route through university accountancy degree followed by professional qualification can be too narrow and that more versatile accountants are produced (especially in this technological age) by an ‘ology’ route.

Dr Peter Clarke BSc, PhD, FCMA, Welwyn, Herts

The euro: Customs’ answers In Brian Worboys’ letter ‘Charge of the euro brigade’ (11 March), there lies the interesting conundrum … Each month, I pay my PAYE in euros. At the end of the year, I now have my P35 (listed in pounds) trying to reconcile it to my monthly payments (all at different spot rates) to arrive at an under or overpayment?

Daniel Clark, ACA,

…Mr Worboys is clearly not aware that the acceptance of euros by the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise in payment of taxes is only a facilitation by the government, which allows the taxpayers the option to pay in euros if they so wish, until we are more fully prepared or until it is certain that we are going to join.

The currency of the UK is still sterling and therefore it is this # liability which must be cleared, regardless of the currency in which it is paid.

He is quite right that the taxpayer will pick up the responsibility for the exchange difference, but this can of course go either way.

In respect of the transaction charge, certainly as far as Customs are concerned, (I cannot speak for the Revenue) it is being absorbed by the department.

The difference between the euro and other currencies is that: if we are a member it will become our national currency, but if we are not, it will still become a parallel currency, as it will serve a population in excess of 300 million people. This gives it greater significance than that of a currency which is not local.

Leaflets and guidance on the euro are available from Customs and the Revenue.

Malcolm Clarkson, collection accountant, Customs & Excise, Northern England

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