RegulationAccounting StandardsOnly beaten by apathy

Only beaten by apathy

For the ICAEW council and executive, the result could hardly have been more galling. They had required a two-thirds majority, and nearly got it, falling an agonising 540 votes short.

A decent number of members did vote – 56,326 – but with more than 70,000
members choosing not to bother, this apathetic majority made the task all but
impossible. It would have taken just 0.8% of non-voters to back the proposal for
it to be carried.

In hindsight, the ICAEW and CIPFA, whose members again voted emphatically for
merger, made two crucial tactical mistakes. The first was to be unclear at the
outset about how the two qualifications would be kept distinct. It was quickly
corrected but the damage was done.

Secondly, they went public early with their preferred name – the Institute of
Chartered Accountants. This was no sideshow. It created a negative
merger-related story that ran and ran across the world.

The irony now, of course, is that the name debate is dead.

Nevertheless, this outcome does the profession no favours. With six principal
institutes, and countless others, it remains a fragmented profession. Its voice
is weaker for it.

Tradition dictates the profession waits a decade before pursuing another
merger. But the narrow margin means we might not have to wait that long. Let’s
hope that’s the case.

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