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the suits

The fact that the Institute of Chartered Accountants now elects its senior officers means that assuming the role of president is no longer merely a case of "Buggins' turn". However, the group of people from which candidates are selected and which chooses between them acts as an effective bar on revolutionaries.

That said, though, Keith Woodley, who took over from Roger Lawson last week, is likely to have a more interesting time than most. As he said in his inaugural speech, he and his organisation will be committing much of their resources to concluding a merger with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants - as a first step towards rationalisation of the whole profession.

"I am convinced that if professional accountants are to have more influence in Europe and overseas, rationalisation of our domestic profession is essential," he explained.

With many doubting that the two parties will reach the altar, Mr Woodley, an amiable 55 year old who practises in Bath, is clearly going to have his work cut out.

But this is not his only crusade. Highlighting the need for a 10-year view of the profession to be developed, he wants the body to reassert its value to society and take a new approach to accounting thought. "We should be using all our skills and experience to advance the relevance and effectiveness of accounting for the benefit of our customers and clients, as well as for the public good," he says.

Being, in his spare time, complaints commissioner for several self-regulating organisations, such as the Securities and Futures Authority, Fimbra, the Stock Exchange and the Personal Investment Authority, he should realise the enormity of this particular task.