PracticeConsultingStand up and take an interest

Stand up and take an interest

Accountants and reality are usually no strangers. For all the popular jibes about the profession's ability to make figures say whatever the client wants them to, most accountants have no trouble looking facts in the face whenever they encounter them in the course of their professional work. How strange that the same ability seems to desert the profession when it contemplates its professional bodies.

Next week’s extraordinary general meeting called by disaffected members of ACCA is a case in point. The rebels accuse ACCA of acting more like a plc than ‘a professional accountancy body serving the interests of members’.

But what would ‘a professional body serving the interest of members’ look like? The dissenters’ resolution presupposes that everyone knows. In reality, an agreed definition of what an accountancy body is for, has never been attempted.

A major reason for this lack of debate is the unthinking mud-slinging that greets anyone who tries to raise the issue. The English ICA can vouch for that. Critics of plans to modernise its syllabus accuse the institute of selling out to the Big Five. The reality is that at least the top 20 firms, to say nothing of the companies who employ nearly six out of ten chartered accountants, are also broadly behind the changes.

That both rebellions have been ignored by most members is deeply worrying.

The status of every accountant’s professional qualification depends on the standing of the body that awarded it. Take an interest before it is too late.

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