Published: 17/11/2005 Volume 115 No. 5982 Page 22 23

Andy Robling, national director, Hays Accountancy and Finance Public Services

The failure of the proposals to integrate the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales - albeit by the narrowest of margins - represents a missed opportunity.

The boundaries between public and private sectors have become increasingly blurred in recent years and there is a growing requirement for accountants from both sides to share knowledge and expertise.

The NHS is increasingly seeking commercial finance skills to push modernisation. Foundation hospitals, payment by results and shared services are just some of the new realities driving the need for finance skills more traditionally found in the private sector.

On the other hand, the growth of private finance arrangements means private sector accountants are having to grapple with complex public sector funding and alternative treatment of surpluses and shortfalls.

The proposed merger would have seen shared education and training facilities create opportunities for greater transfer of knowledge and skills, and additional career-focused training that could help both chartered public finance auditors and associate chartered accountants to improve their cross-sector appeal.

Without increasing their portability, both qualifications risk losing out if the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants continues to gain in popularity with students and employers. In an ever-competitive employment market in which boundaries between sectors are increasingly blurred we must continue to look for ways to offer the next generation of accountants greater employability and career flexibility.