ICAS: profitability not an excuse to brush aside governance issues

A RETURN to profitability must not be used as an excuse to push aside continuing concerns over corporate governance and “systemic cultural issues”, ICAS chief executive has warned.

In a speech to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the founding of the professional body, Anton Colella said that the public still believes that British business has “paid lip service” to delivering cultural changes required to allay concerns of unethical behaviour.

“What we need is to restore what it truly means to be a professional and put that at the heart of our businesses,” said Colella. “Bankers, accountants, finance and business leaders must reconnect with their professions. This includes understanding and delivering on our responsibility to act in the public interest for the benefit of wider society.

“My fear is that a return to profit may result in us brushing some of the systemic cultural issues under the carpet.”

The profession was effectively ‘founded’ on 23 October 1854, when Queen Victoria signed a Royal Charter granting 61 Edinburgh businessmen the right to create the first professional body of accountants in the world. The Edinburgh Society of Accountants and the Glasgow Institute of Accountants and Actuaries were formed in 1854, and the Aberdeen Society of Accountants was formed in 1867. The three bodies merged in 1951.

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