Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Global Ambition II - Are ICASL and ICAEW About To Merge?

In October 2010 the ICAEW and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL) signed an MoU designed to establish closer working relationships.

I noted the following at the time:

"Global ambitions are all well and good. However, care needs to be paid by the ICAEW to ensure:

1 That any inter institute membership, if it occurs, will be structured in such a way as to ensure that the brand value of the ICAEW qualification will not be diluted.

2 That, given the recession and high cost of subscriptions, UK members' subscriptions are not frittered away on global ambitions that have little relevance to the UK membership.

I see that according to the Daily Mirror in Sri Lanka:

"Justin West, ICAEW’s Head of New Business Opportunities declared that the two institutes were looking at going beyond exchanging membership and was seriously focusing how the two institutes can share talent, ideas and technical expertise which will help take the profession forward.

In a detailed presentation, West who articulated the international recognition possessed by ICAEW and thereby the benefits that members can enjoy with an ICAEW membership, disclosed that within the next six months, both Institutes will make an announcement on the tangible benefits that its members can enjoy which would help in the further development of their professional goals.

I also note that ICAEW has extended the fee waiver, valued at £900, offered to all ICASL members until September 2011 who wish to join ICAEW.

Are ICASL and ICAEW about to merge?

My comments made in October 2010 stand.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Average Salaries £82,400?

According to the survey carried out by the ICAEW and Robert Half, the average salary of an ACA is £82,400 and the average bonus is £17,400.

Am I alone in thinking that these numbers seem to be on the high side?

Who actually has time to complete these surveys?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Why Do We Pay Fees To CCAB?

It seems that, if Accountancy Age is correct, CIMA left CCAB because they feel that the fees charged to belong to CCAB were disproportionately high.

"CIMA explained that its members were paying a "hugely disproportionate amount" towards the body. However, CIMA's request to renegotiate the fee structure through an arbitrator was turned down by the other institutes: the ICAEW; ACCA; ICAS; ICAI; and CIPFA.

Given that CCAB appears to have done nothing (that it is proud to tell the world about) since December 2009, CIMA may well have a point about the fees.

What exactly are the members of the five remaining professional bodies paying their fees to CIMA for?

CIMA Displeased

Accountancy Age reports that CIMA are less than pleased with CCAB's decision to announce that CIMA were leaving, without first running that announcement past them:

"However, TS gathers that the CIMA bods were none-too-impressed at the CCAB press release announcing that the institute had buggered off.

With CIMA still technically a member of the CCAB (which will be reformed under a different moniker), the institute was 'very surprised' that the notice went out without its prior knowledge or signoff, catching them on the hop.

An administrative oversight surely, or the CCAB members making it clear that CIMA aren't part of the gang any more and can't have it both ways?

Stand by for this to heat up.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Have CIMA Shot Themselves In The Foot?

Following the announcement by CIMA that they are to leave the seemingly moribund CCAB, there have been a number of comments posted on Accounting Web by members of CIMA.

Aside from the issue that none of them were consulted over this move, there is also the valid point being made that many accounting jobs require a CCAB qualification.

Now that CIMA have removed themselves from CCAB, does this not put their members at a disadvantage?

Have CIMA by their actions damaged their brand and made themselves and their members a lesser body or, does CIMA know that CCAB is about to implode and that this is in fact a canny move that ensures that they will avoid the chaos that will ensue?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


In 2005 I wrote:

"Eric Anstee is reportedly so incensed, by what he calls "spoiling tactics", that he has threatened to "realign" the ICAEW's funding of CCAB; he may even withdraw ICAEW from CCAB."

Yet, by 2008, the ICAEW had somewhat changed its views wrt CCAB:

"..It seems that the ICAEW, either via accident or design, has managed to stir up another major row with some other accounting bodies.

Accountancy Age reports that "private papers" (intended for council only) were "accidentally" published on the ICAEW website last week.

The papers disclose a plan to rank accountants in terms of a hierarchy. The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies would be the top, and book-keepers at the bottom.

The plan is part of the ICAEW's desire to formally recognise the term "accountant", and will be submitted to the Privy Council.

The ranking will be as follows:

- financial accountants
- accounting technicians
- book-keepers

Given that the plan then was to make CCAB numero uno, the decision by CIMA to leave CCAB is a tad odd, is it not?

What is the reason for this decision?

Could the reason be that CCAB appears to have died (no press releases since 2009), and CIMA wants to leave before the ship sinks and drowns all those left on board?

ICAS Leads The Way

As I have noted on my HMRC site, ICAS have put a very well aimed and targeted boot into the "delicates" of HMRC, in respect of HMRC's Impact Assessment of Business Record Checks.

ICAS are of the view that business records checks could cost SMEs at least 10 times more than HMRC's guesstimate, and will impose an absurd administrative burden on SMEs.

In HMRC's fantasy land each visit, averaging half a day, will cost a business £54. However, ICAS has re-costed an average visit using realistic estimates of business disruption and adviser's time and have come up with a total of at least £560 per visit.

ICAS is also somewhat wary of HMRC's fantasy plans to visit 50,000 SMEs each year for four years.

That would be most assuredly bureaucratic bullying overkill, if HMRC really had the resources to do that. Additionally, ICAS is not particularly impressed with the "quality" of some of the people HMRC will be sending into the field and is concerned about the "intransigent attitudes" of these inspectors.

ICAS say:

"..the bases on which these proposals have been presented seem deeply flawed.

Assumptions made by HMRC regarding the incidence of inadequate business records are unsubstantiated by any detail, and estimated costs of the scheme are massively understated. It was not long ago that HMRC were assuring the Administrative Burdens Advisory Board that interventions would be well targeted to reduce red tape for compliant taxpayers, and we fail to understand why this policy has been changed...

HMRC's basic assertion that poor business record keeping is responsible for a loss of tax in up to 2 million SME cases annually seems to be a sweeping generalisation with little credible evidence provided to back it up. We would like to see evidence as to how this statistic has been arrived at, as the validity of the entire consultation document is based on it. Without such evidence, the proposals might appear burdensome and unjustified.

Experience of our members in practice suggests that poor record keeping (where it arises) does not necessarily equate with loss of tax – it can sometimes result in their clients paying too much tax...

We would take issue with HMRC's basic assumption that SMEs with poor records have chosen to have poor records. This is a misconception. Those with the courage and tenacity to embark on new business ventures are forced to battle from the outset against a mass of Government regulation and red tape. Typically they don't go into business because of their record keeping skills...

Anecdotal evidence has caused our members to question the skills and professional judgement of some HMRC representatives checking the business records of their clients. We understand that many of these members of staff have no significant accountancy or tax training. This can cause them to be on the defensive, and in these circumstances it is not unknown for them to adopt intransigent attitudes...

As we can see, an unelected inefficient bureaucracy is allowing the excessive powers granted to it by a weak and incompetent political establishment to go to its head; and is attempting to use these powers to bully people and organisations that pay for its very existence.

Why have the ICAEW not issued not similar riposte to HMRC's plans?