Merger question refuses to go away

damian wild

Hosting a dinner to celebrate the contribution of the accountancy profession
earlier this month, the Lord Mayor of London told his audience that the City
would be better served by a single institute representing accountancy.

Nothing remarkable in that, you might think. Many, Accountancy Age
included, agree in large part with that view. What made the speech much more
noteworthy was that he had invited institute top brass to hear his message.

The speech coincided with the announcement that the ICAEW and CIPFA would be
working closer together. That this would happen had been clear ever since the
merger vote failed in 2005. But the crossing of ‘i’s and dotting of ‘t’s on an
agreement– coupled with the Lord Mayor’s speech – has put the merger debate back
on the table.

In many ways it shouldn’t be. To the best of our knowledge all the main
protagonists are against pursuing a costly merger effort so soon after the last
one failed. But that doesn’t matter when it comes to the merger question – it’s
accountancy’s equivalent of the European integration question. No amount of
arguing by institute chiefs that a merger is not on the table will silence this
debate – but they could do more to help their cause.

There was much muttering in the bar after the Lord Mayor’s speech how this
was a strange time to bring up talk of a merger when the institutes were finally
working together effectively through their umbrella body, the CCAB. Yet the CCAB
has made no public pronouncements since last August – hardly the track record of
a body that’s working effectively together. In this debate (an apparent)
inaction speaks every bit as loudly as action.

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