The news that the Institute of Chartered Accountants
of India has signed an agreement with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and
Wales, allowing both countries to recognise the qualification of chartered accountants from the other country, is very welcome indeed.
The agreement will enable the large numbers of overseas students, many of them Indian, who gain UK qualifications to return home and become members of the ICAI, and vice versa. Similarly , those Indian CAs who wish to work in the UK will be able to acquire a practicing certificate on the same terms as a UK member and eventually reach Partner level.
This new arrangement will help to increase the mobility within the accountancy profession and help accountants in both countries better serve the needs of firms in the UK, India and elsewhere.
India and the UK are in a strategic and equal partnership based on many long-established ties, grounded in shared values, and literally millions of individual personal relations. Many in the Indian business community want and need access to the advice of international accountancy firms and many global businesses
keen on expanding in India and the UK want to bring in their own trusted advisers.
However, although this agreement is a definite step in the right direction, it does not address a key issue: the use of international firms names in India. The regulations to allow this are dependent on the LLP legislation which is scheduled to be considered by the Indian Parliament . This is of vital importance for creating an open market for the accountancy profession in India.
That said, having spent my entire career as a CA in public practice and as a Partner for almost thirty years, I am a strong believer that the key regulatory issue must be on quality, rather than on brand-names .
The agreement is an historic first step on a path to opening our respective markets without devaluing high standards. The agreement is founded on the premise that quality is paramount and that the high standing of the CA qualification in both countries must be preserved.
It is hoped that this agreement will be followed shortly by further freedom of establishment, allowing international firms to work in both countries and offer consumers both business and individuals, the widest possible competitive choice.
Such openness and reciprocity will bring huge benefits to industry and commerce, as it will ensure that good advice will be freely available at a competitive market price. Competition and increased mobility for professionals is ultimately good for business and our economies as a whole as it raises standards and I look forward to our two countries working and sharing best practice on this matter.