ICAS may have recently ruled out the possibility of a merger with the ICAEW in the near future, but it seems that many financial directors feel a single UK accountancy institute would be beneficial.
Nearly half of those asked in this week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Big Question felt UK accountants would be better served by a single institute representing their interests. By comparison, only 38% of those surveyed felt the situation was better as it currently is, while 14% remained neutral on the subject.
With ACCA, CIMA and CIPFA joining the ICAEW and ICAS in representing UK accountants, many feel the wider influence of the profession has been weakened and could be much improved if there was just one representative body.
‘Accountants will never carry the same weight as a unified profession, because of the competing interests and voices. A stronger body is needed to rectify our reputation,’ said Bryan Armour of Parchment Housing Group.
Many felt that, not only were separate institutes weakening the position of accountants, but they were also hitting them directly in their pockets.
‘There appears to be much duplication of administrative, research effort and expenditure reflected in the ever-spiralling annual subscriptions,’ said Ian Rae of Penlon. ‘If these were two commercial businesses, a merger would have taken place years ago.’
However, there are those that are quite happy with the current system and think any move towards a single institution would be damaging.
‘I am against monopoly and a keen supporter of fair competition,’ said one financial director. ‘A single accountancy institute would reduce competition and that would reduce the level of quality representation.’
Others are simply defensive of their own institute. ‘I’m a fellow of the ICAEW old school, and look down on the rest,’ said one. ‘Why would I want to merge with them?’
‘The Scottish institute was the first started in 1854, has the tradition and history and has a higher prestige in world terms,’ said another. ‘It should stay independent.’
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