Thursday, December 01, 2005

Chaos At The ICAEW

I read with interest today the story in Accountancy Age, concerning the delay in the new ICAEW syllabus.

The new syllabus was meant to have been implemented in 2006, yet will now be postponed until 2007.

The rumour, printed in Accountancy Age, is that the delay is due to staff turnover; rather than a coherent strategy.

The story is of particular interest to me because in September the ICAEW advertised for professionals, interested in acting as examiners for the new syllabus; the advertisement noted that it would go live in 2006. The work would be for a few days a year.

There were to be 12 modules; one of which, Ethics (a new subject), I applied for.

I take a particular interest in ethics and corporate governance, and feel that these areas in many companies need some serious attention. Ethics is something that should be of great importance to the ICAEW as well:
  • The ethical image and reputation of the profession has been badly undermined by the media coverage of eg Enron, WorldCom, Andersens etc

  • The ICAEW needs to publicly display to the world that it is committed to ethics and integrity

  • Including Ethics as a specific subject in the examination syllabus is an ideal method to send a message to the media, and the world, that we take ethics seriously

  • Not to include it in the syllabus is an opportunity wasted (to say the least)
I was invited for interview on 19th October, along with 24 other candidates who had applied for the other 11 papers. Prior to the interview I was sent the 5 page Ethics syllabus to read through, together with some other information and a training disc.

I had a one to one 20 minute interview, then a 45 minute panel interview. Seemingly I was the only person to specify Ethics as my first/only choice of paper.

I was told that I would hear by the end of the month, and that if chosen I would have to make a decision quickly; as work on the paper would start in November.

I received an email on the 1st of November which stated that since the interviews the ICAEW had rethought the approach to Ethics, and that there may well not be an assessment of the kind envisaged.

As such no Ethics exam team would be appointed.

I found the change of heart, in such a short space of time, to be surprising and odd at the time. Hardly indicative of a well thought through strategy, given the time and money spent in preparing the syllabus, advertising and interviewing candidates.

Changing the syllabus within the space of a fortnight, seemed to me as though the ICAEW was making up policy as it went along.

Clearly, in the light of today's report, there is chaos within the ICAEW. The result being that not only are the current members being let down, but those who are studying for qualification, and the industries in which they hope to serve, are being let down as well.

This is a very sorry state of affairs indeed.


  1. Half a century ago there were few rotten apples in the Accountancy Profession and major frauds happened less frequently.

    Ethics is basically about personal honour and relatively few regulations are required. There will be exceptions, eg on Advertising and dealings with HMRC.

    Sadly, I have the impression that the ICAEW and Governments have allowed standards to slip irretrievably. Those who abuse positions of high trust should receive unmerciful punishment.

    I also agree that at the present time the ICAEW can do little well. Honesty and honour should and must be a hallmark of any true profession

  2. It seems that being led by Eric leads to strife, low morale and staff resignations.

    Would any of the recent leavers (particularly from the L&PDD) care to share their views here?

    I once worked for a Past President of the ICAEW and he was undoubtedly clever (unlike Eric, Paul and Ian) but ill-tempered (like Eric) - I personally saw him throw files all over the place in one fit of rage.

    Eric is no use to man or beast - get rid of him now.