Pride in one’s institute is one thing. Blind indifference to business realities of the late 1990s is quite another. Yet that has been the dominant theme running through responses by those opposed to ACCA’s initiative to bring together a large chunk of the profession.
It is perfectly true, as a number of institute leaders have pointed out, that the devil is in the detail. But it was not the fine detail that sunk previous attempts to rationalise the profession. Straightforward prejudice and the fear of being swamped in a merged body have been the main causes of failure.
These are good reasons for being cautious when framing the details of a new body. But none are good reasons for objecting to a fresh attempt at rationalisation. Time and history are not on the side of those who like to pretend there is no need to modernise.
The global economy has no time for arcane and antiquated divisions within the UK accounting institutes. Diverse they certainly are, but in global boardrooms they just seem confusing. Closer to home, New Labour’s long-term agenda favours rationalisation. There may not be sufficient legislative time for a change this parliament, but if Labour does win a second term, the profession will find rationalisation imposed upon it. ACCA may have offended sensibilities by the way it has gone about things. But that is no reason to refuse to debate the issue that has been placed squarely at the top of the agenda.
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