Today's announcement by CIPFA and the ICAEW of a fast-track pathway to dual membership has raised eyebrows among some in the accountancy profession. Some see it as a positive development, as it will allow accountants to move more freely between the public and private sectors. Others, however, are more sceptical, and believe that it is simply a backdoor to a merger between the two bodies.
There are a number of reasons why this scepticism is justified. First, the two bodies have been working more closely together in recent years. In 2021, they signed a memorandum of understanding to "explore opportunities for closer collaboration". This collaboration has included sharing resources and expertise, and working together on joint initiatives.
Second, the fast-track pathway to dual membership is not the only way that accountants can move between the two bodies. CIPFA members with less than five years' experience can already apply to join ICAEW through the Pathways to Membership programme. And ICAEW members with less than five years' experience can already apply to join CIPFA through the Fast Track Route.
So why did CIPFA and ICAEW feel the need to create a new fast-track pathway?
One possibility is that they are simply trying to make it easier for accountants to move between the two bodies. However, it is also possible that they are laying the groundwork for a merger which would dilute the ICAEW brand.
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