Acknowledging that the ICAEW had fallen short of the number of votes needed
to carry the motion, a senior figure at a rival institute not known for its
slavish support of Moorgate Place said: ‘The message that came out of it, given
the size of the vote in favour, is a mandate for change.’ He was not alone in
saying so. Nor was he in splendid isolation in saying that we were right to
support the rationalisation of the profession.
So now the dust has settled on last week’s nail-biting events, what changes
could be wrought through this ‘mandate for change’?
At the most extreme end of the possible – if not the likely – we’ll see CIPFA
and the ICAEW working extremely closely, sharing back-office and research
resources. And they will do so under the same roof.
We might also see the ICAEW proceed with its renaming plans by dropping any
reference to geography within its title.
ICAS is unlikely to roll over and accept that, so a legal challenge would
almost certainly ensue, while the Privy Council, which would have to sanction
any change, is unlikely to thank the profession for placing it between a rock
and a hard place.
All this would test relations, to say the least, within the CCAB, where
despite these fractious times, co-operation continues. There’s no love lost
between the ICAS, the ICAEW and CIPFA right now. ACCA, meanwhile, as a result of
its none-too-subtle courting of the public sector institute last week, has also
ruffled a few feathers. ACCA has always enjoyed a bit of feather-ruffling, so
could that courting now become more overt?
Alternatively – or perhaps concurrently – the ICAEW will re-approach CIMA
with a merger offer that deals with the concerns that persuaded the management
accountants to withdraw from the tripartite agreement in April. Or perhaps CIPFA
All are possibilities if not probabilities. But within all this there is a
singularly undesirable outcome.
Rationalisation may have failed this time around, but if that failure results
in a situation where the institutes work less closely together amid a fracturing
CCAB, the events of recent months will only have served to compound the
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