Opinion: A Victory for Accountants Everywhere. By Tony Margaritelli
I am so very pleased that the work of the ICPA in defending the rights of all practising accountants has met with such unequivocal support from the Dept of Business, Enterprise and Regulator Reform whose email is printed below.
In the September issue of this magazine I wrote that the protection of the term Accountant was “back on the agenda”. I also pointed out that the ICAEW having by their own CEO’s admission failed to gain support from H M Treasury had turned his attention to the Dept of Business, Enterprise and Regulator Reform. They in turn have apparently agreed to listen to the case if they can demonstrate a case “in the public interest”.
Their response is a clear indication that any such approach will be rebuffed and that all the arguments put forward by the ICPA have been accepted.
Whilst this ruling should finally put an end to this debate I can report that the countless emails of bad practice by Chartered Accountants already supplied will be kept just in case.
This ruling should not be seen as some sort of Chartered Accountant “bashing” because that has never been our intention and never will. Our case has always been that there is good and bad in every organisation and that the ICAEW are not exempt from this and have no divine right to expect or demand otherwise.
The ICPA have always fought against any one body having sole rights to the title Accountant and we also point out that ICAEW members actually do have the sole right to the term Chartered Accountant which one would have thought was sufficient. If the leadership of the ICAEW had paid their small practice members the attention they deserve and merit rather than focusing on others then maybe just maybe this issue would never have arisen.
If the leadership is uncertain as to exactly what the membership actually need they could do worse than look at the benefits of membership of the ICPA for a start.
The ICPA were the only organisation to spend the time and the money fighting this issue and sometimes, just sometime the good guys do win so to ALL our supporters everywhere a big thank you.
Dear Mr Margaritelli
Thank you for your email of 3 November in which you expressed concerns that about possible restrictions of the use of the term “Accountant” to only ICAEW or similar members.
I can confirm that although the idea of introducing a statutory definition of an “accountant” and regulating the whole market may have some attractions, the Government believes that the balance of the argument is against this. The Government considers that the benefit of introducing a statutory regime for all accountants would be outweighed by the drawbacks involved in statutory regulation of all persons undertaking accountancy work.
Restricting the practice of accountancy to individuals who hold certain accountancy qualifications would be bureaucratic and would add significantly to costs.
Furthermore, it would be anti-competitive by restricting choice and by proving a disincentive to innovation in the supply of services. All of these consequences would particularly affect smaller businesses. The Government also believes that such a measure would be at variance with the OFT analysis of competition in the professions, which was published in March 2001.
We note that you share the Government’s view that the term chartered accountant should continue to be restricted to appropriately qualified members of one of the professional accounting bodies. The Government believes that this is rightly regarded as providing a good basis on which the public may make an informed judgement between individuals who hold a qualification from a professional body and those who do not.
However, as a general principle, the Government does not believe in regulating unless it is convinced that it is necessary, cost effective, and that no other alternative exists. It does not believe this to be the case in this area.
Corporate Law and Governance
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform