Institutes must listen to survive

With CIPFA revising its programme last summer and the Irish ICA currently reviewing its arrangements, all six major institutes will almost certainly have subjected their training regimes to radical change within 12 months.

Their motives are clear. All want to introduce more flexibilty, all want to create more portable qualifications and all – at the very least – want to maintain their student customer base. Essentially, the institutes recognise they need training that better reflects the business markets they are serving.

These changes are fundamental but with the profession itself facing core changes driven by business (from the fallout of the SEC audit independence inquiry to the drive for truly international standards) radical reform is vital.

Accountants have coped with these shifting sands better than most over the last 10 years. Last week a survey showed that from a position where fewer than one in 10 chief executives in UK boardrooms a decade ago were accountants, today one in four CEOs have a finance background.

If that level of influence is to be retained – or even increased – the institutes will have to ensure that they continue to listen. Revamping qualifications is only the beginning of that road.

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