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Professionalism and ‘success from the City’ key for ICAEW and ICAS

ANDREW RATCLIFFE, ICAEW’s new president for 2015/16, has called on chartered accountants across the land to reclaim the word profession.

In a keynote speech delivered at the president’s lunch at Chartered Accountant’s Hall, the Cambridge maths graduate said “gaining the qualification is not an end in itself, but the start of being a professional”.

“That word ‘profession’ has been devalued and we need to reclaim it. The word ‘profession’ derives from concepts of belief, commitment and making a promise, about what we do and how we do it,” said Ratcliffe. “In our Royal Charter, ICAEW took on the responsibility to act in the public interest and our members embody that by acting in accordance with our code of ethics.”

An audit engagement partner with PwC, Ratcliffe also urged members to respond to the needs of potential exporters who look to their accountant as a key source of advice, to help connect British businesses to fast growing markets outside the EU.

Government needs financial governance

He identified a clear “need for more strategic financial management in government that reflects best practice in the private sector” and outlined how the institute had written to the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury recommending a fresh Comprehensive Financial Review that considers the whole of the income, expenditure and balance sheet management together; and recommended the adoption of Whole of Government Accounts as the primary source for strategic public policy planning.

A simpler UK tax system and the restoration of public trust in corporate governance and the wider business community – lost as a result of the financial crisis – was needed for the benefit of wider society, said Ratcliffe.

“Increasing the skills of our people to be relevant to the changing needs of our economy has to be a major part of the long-term answer,” was the most important factor, he stressed. “We want every child to leave school equipped with skills for work, whether those are basic skills like English and maths or communication and team-working skills. We also want to see work experience restored to the school curriculum.

And he ended his speech with a return to theme of professionalism. “I tell those new members that being a professional may mean they will have some hard decisions to make.People may disagree with them. It may mean they have to do something that is not in their own self-interest.

“It will certainly mean that there will be times when they need the courage to have a difficult conversation with someone, not saying what that other person wants to hear, but telling them what they think, and giving them the good honest advice that’s in their long-term interest.”

Ratcliffe will lead ICAEW until June 2016, when he will hand over to new deputy president Hilary Lindsay. Baker Tilly partner Nick Parker becomes vice president.

Responsible city success key for ICAS

At the Mansion House this morning, and in front of the Lord Mayor of London,recently appointed ICAS president Jim Pettigrew called on politicians and business leaders to come together to “create the right environment to ensure the future success of the City as the global capital of the global capital markets”.

Pettigrew said: “The City has been the most remarkable success story for the UK economy since the industrial revolution. But we believe that we are now at an important moment where tough leadership is required from government and business to ensure that we build on this success for the future. Over the next five years we must act together in a way that we haven’t done for the wider benefit of the UK economy.“

He outlined five areas of focus for the next five years to ensure the success of the City. They included the right people had the right skills, creating a “competitive” tax regime, enshrining “the right regulatory oversight” that fused checks and balances with the freedom to take “considered entrepreneurial risks which create wealth, generate more taxes for our public services and lead to more investment and more jobs”.

Pettigrew, the former CFO of money and derivatives broker ICAP, also urged the need to harness the best technology and digital culture to dog of the global financial markets and retain that positon.

Connecting the City productively with Asia, the United States and the emerging capital markets of Africa and South America, was also critical to the City and wifder UK plc’s future success, Pettigrew explained.

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