ICA Conference: Audit focus warning

The English ICA should be wary of its emphasis on churning out auditors if it hopes members will become business leaders of the future, according to Glaxo Wellcome FD John Coombe, writes Chris Quick.

Addressing delegates on the finance director of the 21st century, Coombe said the challenge for the English ICA would be to what degree it can change its training programme to reflect this challenge. His comments come just a fortnight after the institute’s membership rejected the introduction of optional papers, or electives, into the institute’s exam syllabus.

Coombe argued: ‘We can’t just churn out auditors and hope they can turn into business advisers. I am not convinced this is the right way for the future. I think we have to embrace both business and audit streams at the institute. ‘

So-called global firms are little more than a loose affiliation of practices in different countries, Peter Radford, head of audit with British American Tobacco plc, told delegates.

He expressed cynicism at the worldwide network marketed by firms. BAT uses PricewaterhouseCoopers as its lead firm.

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