AccountingWEB quizzes Michael Izza

AccountingWEB caught up with ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza in Bristol on the day of the Autumn Statement and put to him a number of questions from our members.

Along with discussing the big news of the day prior to the speech, Izza spoke candidly about the state of the profession, a new Business Advisory Service and reaching out to smaller practitioners.

Is the Chancellor doing enough and what are the wider implications of the whole growth agenda?

“We at the ICAEW have been saying for a while that we always thought the Chancellor’s plans to deal with the structural deficit were ambitious for one parliament, we always thought this was a two-parliament task. What we’re going to hear today is going to reinforce that very strongly. Not only are we going to spend this parliament and perhaps the early part of the next parliament trying to remove the structural deficit, i.e. balance the budget, but at the end of that we’re going to have £1.4-£1.5 trillion of debt, and we’ve then got to start paying that down. So, this is a massive mindset for us and it’s hard to see the good news, because if we’ve got £1.4 trillion of debt by 2016 the interest charge on that alone is going to be over £70bn – twice what we spend on the Ministry of Defence. It is an enormous challenge and I don’t envy the Chancellor the task. The only way out of it is not by more and more cuts and more and more tax, it’s actually by stimulating growth. Could the government do more? Of course it could. They have made some good moves, particularly the emphasis they’ve placed on export, and that export should be focused on SMEs. Principally ‘M’s because there are more ‘M’s likely to do export than ‘S’s. The more the government can do to make it easier for these businesses to export, the better. These days you can use the web as a marketing window to the world. People who have the right mindset, of course the right product and are able to take the financial risk (or de-risk), can actually access a global market rather than just the 60 million of the United Kingdom, or a much smaller number just in the South West.

It’s all very well talking about the internet and marketing overseas, but is there an issue with understanding what those markets need – the insider knowledge in Africa, China or wherever – is that flow being catered for do you think?

Continued...

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Steve McQueen's picture

Reply to ICAEW regarding Albert Camus    1 thanks

Steve McQueen | | Permalink

 

 

Firstly, I would like to thank Robert Lovell for raising the case of Albert Camus with the ICAEW. I have only just seen this post which is why I am only replying now, but as someone who knows - and has worked extensively with - Albert regarding his case over the last 4 years, I would like to follow up on the reply Robert received.

The ICAEW state in their answer: "If a member has a medical problem which has prevented them from telling us they want to appeal they can ask to appeal out of time provided they can provide proof of their condition."

While it cannot be disputed that the member can ask, the reply received by Albert who provided 2 (expensive) psychiatric reports regarding his mental state both during the initial complaint and subsequently during the appeals window was "no appeal can be considered... as the Institute must be allowed to continue with its work..." 

When pressed further, the ICAEW insisted that it was not prepared to discuss the matter and would only do so through the medium of a Judicial Review. Whilst we would have liked to have this referred to a JR, we could not, as we had several quotes from lawyers that the starting price of a JR was £50,000, that they could not offer any form of contingency fee funding and that they would need the money upfront.

Unfortunately, Albert was rendered penniless by the ICAEW removing his right to work (and his business partners throwing him out of his business as a result of the ICAEW ruling, without any compensation in any form whilst leaving him with the business debt) and what limited funds were available needed to be put towards living expenses and creditors.

The ICAEW knew this – for they had asked about Albert’s financial position regularly (and sort to punish him further for it) – and we cannot but believe that the use of the JR mechanism was a neat blocking tactic by someone within the ICAEW who knows that they got it wrong in Albert’s case, but need to prevent it coming back to them lest they themselves get in trouble.

Anyway, leaving aside the past, Albert’s life continues and he works with me on a daily basis in a new business that is driven by accountancy but is not in the mainstream of it. I know however, that he was always very proud of his membership of the ICAEW and would like to rejoin them if peace could be reached.

He has asked about this on several occasions and has been sent many forms for completion. However, the ICAEW insist that Albert must submit further (expensive) psychiatric reports regarding his health before he will even be considered for a reapplication to membership (he must also have successfully completed his litigation against his former partners).

If the ICAEW is an equal opportunities organisation why do they need this?

They do not recognise Albert’s condition as being a cause of the disciplinary action they brought against him – for they refused him an appeal which would have allowed him to present this evidence – so why must Albert tell the ICAEW personal, intimate and complete medical detail about a disability he suffers to be eligible for membership? – would anyone expect this of someone who uses a wheel chair who applied for membership? Of course they would not.

In other words - and in summary- despite the eloquent paragraph provided to Robert regarding equal opportunities, as someone who knows (very well) a disabled (former) member of the ICAEW, I can say that I do not accept that the ICAEW is an equal opportunities organisation as the evidence I have does not support it for those with mental health problems.