LEADER – Mr Rake’s landscape plans

Mike Rake’s appointment as UK senior partner at KPMG draws a line under the firm’s unsuccessful attempt to merge with Ernst & Young. It also, as he told Accountancy Age this week, marks the start of a period of rapid expansion as he aims to grow the firm’s UK income to more than #1bn by the millennium.

Whether or not he succeeds, the timing of his appointment is highly significant.

With the merger between Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse now virtually certain to win regulatory approval, it is time to look at the new landscape that is emerging for the whole profession, in business as well as in practice.

Perhaps the most significant feature of this new landscape is the fact that pure accountancy skills are a rapidly depreciating asset. In small and medium-sized firms, many partners think this is a Big Six phenomenon.

They are wrong. Even the smallest clients are beginning to demand business advice, and a growing number of non-accountants are willing to offer it.

In business, the number of non-accountant finance directors is growing.

Audit is conspicuous by its absence from Rake’s list of market areas that will grow to deliver his #1bn goal. On the High Street and in the corporate boardroom, accountants need much more than traditional accountancy skills to succeed. It is a message those lining up to oppose the English ICA’s attempts to modernise its professional qualification would do well to heed.

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