Why size matters

That all seems so very 20th century now that eight international chartered institutes have begun moves to launch a global qualification in as little as three years.

The ambition itself comes as no great surprise. But the speed with which the institutes – from England, Scotland and Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Canada and the US – hope to see it realised has already raised eyebrows.

In truth, they have little choice. By coming together the eight bodies hope to develop sufficient muscle to be able to stand up to any punches the Big Five might throw in terms of one day threatening to go it alone and train their own students.

That is no fanciful notion. The willingness of Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG to break the English ICA’s traditional stranglehold on chartered training south of the border has made it abundantly clear that there are no more sacred cows in the profession.

Already the Scots ICA has made hay while the sun has failed to shine over its English counterpart, picking up increasing numbers of Big Five students. This has only served to demonstrate the dangers of isolation.

And with truly international accounting standards, hopefully, on the horizon, training that reflects the global nature of business can only be a good thing.

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