ACCA claims merger support

30 Jul 98
Three out of four accountants support the proposed merger of their professional bodies, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) claimed this week after receiving responses from roughly one-tenth of potential members.

31 July 1998

ACCA sent out 120,000 copies of its plans to merge with public services body CIPFA and management accountants CIMA more than two weeks ago. On Tuesday it said more than 11,500 replies had been received – around 10% of the potential membership of the new body. This included responses from almost 10% of CIPFA members.

CIPFA-qualified accountants continue to show the greatest support for the plans with 84% in favour, ACCA said. Around 68% of CIMA members voted to support the proposal, with 77% of ACCA members. The responses are counted and verified independently by NOP Numbers, a leading market research company.

Critics will argue that the sample suffers from being self-selecting. Those hostile to ACCA's initiative may be less inclined to respond to its questionnaire. But Jo Cleaver, research director with the market researchers, said: 'The distribution of results by membership and employment sectors shows them to be representative of the total population of 120,000 members. A three to one margin in favour, with a sample of 11,500, is statistically highly significant and demonstrates clear support for the proposals among the members of each body.'

While ACCA was able to trumpet support from the rank and file of the three bodies, it also received backing from accountancy trainers and industry. The plan has been endorsed by the three major accountancy training providers – the Financial Training Company (FTC), AT/Emile Woolf and BPP – and companies such as Stakis.

Graham Carr, a director of AT/Emile Woolf and ACCA member, said the new body would have a stronger qualification and greater influence. 'It will eliminate unnecessary duplication and provide a product which meets the needs of industry, practice and the public sector.'

Despite ACCA's claims of overwhelming support among CIPFA members, the Institute's Council remains lukewarm about the proposals. CIPFA's governing body met on July 23 and agreed that the certified association's plans fulfilled several basic principles that it believed were necessary before a 'sensible' rationalisation could go ahead. But it agreed with David Adams, its Chief Executive, that there were fundamental flaws in the ACCA plan.

A number of Council members had not received details of the proposals from ACCA, in common with many CIPFA members, the Institute said.

The public services body is unhappy with ACCA's methods. 'ACCA's action in publishing the manifesto without prior consultation and in mailshotting CIPFA members without CIPFA's agreement must undermine the trust necessary between professional bodies,' it said.

CIPFA President Margaret Pratt has written to members and students to explain the Council's position and to invite members to make their views known. A detailed survey of member opinion on the rationalisation plan will be conducted through Public Finance in September.


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