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The one minute expert

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Full name?

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales

In the news because?

Fireworks are expected at its annual general meeting on Tuesday.


Accountants? Fireworks?

Dissidents are demanding that the executive be elected directly, instead of by the ICA's council. They're called the Ginger Group and are led by Jeff Wooller, who runs an accountancy college.

Ginger as in reddish-brown?

As in lively, sprightly, invigorated - the opposite of staid and boring.

So what's their gripe?

Dr Wooller says the rebels became organised last year when the ICA merged with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. After losing that battle they decided to keep on fighting for democratic reforms.

I thought accountants liked mergers?

They love other people's mergers - lots of fat adviser's fees. But some of them have been so indoctrinated in the idea that one kind of accountant is better than another that they can't stomach the idea of sharing an institution with them. It's the sort of emotional issue that causes hearts to pound within the industry.

Will they win this time?

Not a chance. The ICA is holding two meetings on Tuesday. To vote at the first one, the annual general meeting, members have either to attend in person, or request a proxy form, fill it out, and send it back in. Much too complicated.

What happens at the second meeting?

It's a special general meeting to decide on contentious issues such as their professional fees. Members were sent proxy forms automatically, so all they have to do is tick yes or no boxes and mail them in. Much simpler. The Ginger Group's resolution is on the agenda for the first meeting.

The fireworks will fizzle then? Maybe not. Even if they lose on the election issue, the dissidents could win on the fees issue. They're calling for their supporters to turn down the 3.5 per cent increase proposed by the executive.

Will the ICA grind to a halt?

No but it would certainly make the executive ginger.

As in lively, etc?

As in sore, sensitive. It's not the subject to raise with them at dinner parties.

Is this only happening at the ICA?

The certified accountants are facing a similar fight. Their organisation, ACCA, recently fought off an attempt by reformers to get on the board, prompting charges by the defeated slate that the executive's use of proxies was unfair.

So, will this be the end of the story?

Not likely. Dr Wooller is talking about getting on the agenda for next year's special meeting, where he thinks he can use proxies to his advantage. The problem there is that he will need signatures from 250 members, rather than the 10 that are needed to put a motion before the AGM.


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