Since the speculation surrounding potential mergers between institutes including CIMA, CIPFA and ACCA has died down, the individual bodies have been busy figuring out their strategies for the new millennium, writes Alex Miller. This is particularly so at CIMA where a whole raft of changes have been taking place, both in terms of personnel and strategic planning. Some recent changes included the recruitment of three directors to its senior management team to work with secretary John Chester in leading the programme of changes for the institute. To do this, a new director of member services, Maurice Cheng, has been appointed to replace Jake Claret who retires in July 2000. Robert Jelly, currently head of Dundee Business School at the University of Abertay Dundee, will be the new director of student affairs. He takes up his appointment at the beginning of February 2000. Professional appointment But arguably the most crucial appointment has been the creation of a director of the new department of professional standards, introduced on the back of the new regulatory structures proposed by the accountancy profession and endorsed by the government. Mandie Lavin, took up the challenge earlier this month, having previously been director of professional conduct for the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting. Her main aim - and the institute's - will be to reinforce CIMA's focus and overhaul its professional standards structure. 'CIMA is clear that we need to be ready to measure up to the new regulatory requirements. My experience of running a large disciplinary department, allied to extensive legal expertise in the area of complaints is spot on for what we need to do here,' she said. 'As an institute we are serious about continuing to deliver quality services to our members and being there for them when they need us. 'Much work has already been done to identify what our members want and how we should provide it, but there is still much work to do. No professional accountancy body can afford to stand still. 'All accountancy bodies have had to look at their professional standards and CIMA is in exactly the same position. The profession is under more public scrutiny now than ever before and the strains are growing, but we are responding,' she added. The need for reform CIMA has placed high levels of importance on the need for its reforms to consider how to deal with complaints. Although, as the institute says, the number of complaints it receives every year is minimal (30 to 40 ranging from the serious to the relatively trivial), statistics never tell the full story. 'Even if the number of complaints is minimal, we need to make sure that people feel they have been dealt with fairly by us,' said Lavin. Indeed the institute has been looking at its bylaws and regulations and is in the process of redrafting and amending them. But as Lavin said, 'there is more structural work to be done.' It has also made provisions to consider opening its meetings to the public, as well as making provisions to redraft how its views are formulated. 'We are engaged in a complete overhaul and some of our proposals are nothing short of radical. There is a new disciplinary board in the profession and we have to be ready when they are formulated,' Lavin said. As speculation has temporarily receded over mergers of the institutes, CIMA may be aiming to put the squeeze on CIPFA. 'Who knows what the future holds? What is certain is that the public sector (approximately 20% of its mix) is a target area for growth and always has been,' Lavin added. 'What is just as important is that our professional standards are compatible with the other bodies. We do not want to be out of step.'
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