CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR THE ACCOUNTANTS OF THE 21ST CENTURY[QQ] Peter Douglas (Opinion, 28 October, page 22) suggests the role of the English ICA as an educator faces dilution as a consequence of the rejection by the membership of 'its innovative training proposals, designed to ensure chartered accountants have the range of business and financial skills to meet challenges of the future'. However, what the membership rejected in June 1999 was not the innovative element of the proposed package with its increased emphasis on business management. What was again rejected was the regurgitation of the five-year-old proposals for pre-qualification exam streaming, so emphatically thrown out at the special meeting of the institute I called in 1996. The rejection was precisely because such streaming would not have required all students to be examined in the same range of skills and thus would have diluted the unitary nature of the qualification. Interestingly the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia did go down the streaming route some seven years ago and have now abandoned elective exams in favour of a unitary qualification, so in my book, that is one mistake the English ICA has avoided making - just! Nobody would deny that the 21st century offers challenges to accountants in general and the English ICA in particular, but I am delighted to find that alongside increased emphasis on business, management and advice, the education and training directorate are now working on developing advanced syllabuses incorporating knowledge management and information technology to be undertaken by all aspiring ACAs. In my book that is tackling the challenge head on, and unlike the divisive elective proposals, deserves the support of the membership. John KH Cook MBA FCA, Wirral, Merseyside IFAS HOLD CARDS CLOSE Peter Broadley is the latest (Letters, 21 October) to join the band of your amazed readers regarding the lack of consultation with accountants by my fellow 'financial services operatives' - is that self-deprecating enough? When selling a pension the information we require is historical and can be obtained directly from the Revenue. No consultation required. Broadley mentions the FSO's lack of consultation on the 'recent investment in government security', carried out for one of his clients. He knows interest on government stock since 6 April 1998 has been paid without deduction of income tax and before then was paid net of 20%. Both arrangements could of course be altered by election at the time of purchase but the FSO took no action. What was this adviser guilty of? I have yet to find a prospect for financial services where any sort of standard practice exists regarding the accountant's supplying his clients with a copy of the tax return. For one of my unworthy breed to not supply a customer with a copy of the proposal form or acceptance letter would be considered a hanging offence. If letters on this page are representative of the low esteem in which accountants hold IFAs, no wonder we play our cards close to our chest. Greg Thomas, Worcester All letters should be sent to: The Editor, Accountancy Age, VNU House, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG Tel: 0171 316 9236 Fax: 0171 316 9250 Or email us on: [email protected] Accountancy Age reserves the right to edit letters for space or clarity. Please include your title, company name and a daytime telephone number.
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