The proposed consolidation of the accountancy profession in the UK via a
merger of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales with the
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy is predicated upon the
unproven belief that one centralised monolith would be more effective than
The ICAEW further contends that current relationships between the major
institutes tend to emphasise competition rather than partnership, resulting in
the profession, as a whole, experiencing difficulty speaking with one voice. The
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland regards both arguments as
Rather than being more effective, one monolithic institute would be just as
likely to be less effective. Of necessity, such an entity would be a broad
church representing various different interest groups, making the process of
representation, and lobbying on behalf of, these differing interest groups much
more problematic. At least in part the various institutes exist within the UK
because they represent different member needs.
A merger of institutes representing chartered accountants would have the
potential of being a much more homogenous grouping than a merger of institutes
representing, not only chartered accountants, but public finance accountants and
While these different kinds of accountants are unlikely to hold conflicting
views about all issues all of the time, nonetheless, the identification of a
common cause upon which they can all rally behind with equal enthusiasm, is
likely to be more difficult for a larger, organisation to achieve, than it is
for a smaller, more homogenous organisation. The contention that the bigger the
institute is, the more effective at lobbying it will be, is unconvincing.
For its part, ICAS sees considerable benefit in an exclusive and unremitting
focus on chartered accountants and in particularly CAs whom we consider to r
epresent the most able tier of the profession.
Further, contrary to ICAEW’s apparent aversion to competition, ICAS embraces
both competition and partnership. We do not regard them as mutually exclusive
and believe firmly in the benefits of competition, both for our members and more
importantly for the markets we serve. Simultaneously, where there is scope for
co-operation and we think there is, ICAS is eager to co-operate.
Since structures already exist to encourage co-operation, ICAS sees no
convincing argument for consolidation of the profession. Rather, ICAS considers
the Consultative Committee of Accounting Bodies (CCAB) as the appropriate
vehicle for co-operation. With the proper level of support from the profession’s
representative bodies, CCAB’s effectiveness can only be enhanced.
There are far more important issues for the profession’s representative
bodies to contend with than consolidation, which is why ICAS has no current
intention to merge.
Rather, ICAS will continue to focus its efforts solely on chartered
accountants, the premium positioning of CAs within the profession, the urgent
need to protect the term ‘accountant’ so that only the qualified may hold
themselves out as an accountant, and an unparalleled excellence of education
provision and a personalised service to its members.
ICAS is committed, above all else, to the training of individuals of the
highest calibre and ability, to equip them with a skillset that enables them to
take on the most significant, important, comprehensive and challenging roles
both within the profession and business.
Des Hudson is chief executive of ICAS
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