Eric Anstee, chief executive of the institute, told Accountancy Age that a ‘no’ vote would not stop practice assurance, which he claimed was of ‘fundamental’ importance.
‘If it does not pass this time, we will have to put it straight back to the members, because in my view we cannot have an institute that does not have this. It will keep coming back until they pass it, because it is fundamental to the ethos of the whole institute,’ Anstee said.
The ICAEW chief was speaking days after attending a practice assurance ‘roadshow’ that ran embarrassingly out of control. Members of the northwest London society interrupted a presentation on the scheme by demanding their views be heard.
They insisted a vote be held instead on the question: ‘Will practice assurance improve the institute’s image?’
Lawrence Newman, chairman of the meeting, said: ‘There was a straw poll at the request of the members present. The vote was approximately 12 for and 40 against. The remaining members either abstained or left early.’
The presentation was attentively received at first – but members of the audience decided that they had heard enough and the discussion turned to technicalities of form-filling.
Lawrence Hurst, who proposed the vote, said: ‘I said this was possibly filibustering, at which point the meeting’s chairman took the view it was a good time to end the presentation.’
There has been considerable resistance among the institute’s 108,000 members to the adoption of practice assurance, a compulsory review and inspection scheme.
A full membership vote has already been postponed once, but the institute now believes it has enough converts to win a ballot. Voting papers will be sent out at the end of the month.
With a two-thirds majority required to pass the measure, the institute fears defeat for the proposal could create a major image problem, leaving it as the only accountancy body not to have a quality assurance scheme.
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