Members of the Institute of Financial Accountants in the United Kingdom have voted to amalgamate with Australia’s Institute of Public Accountants to form one of the largest international organizations of accountants who focus on small and midsize enterprises and accounting practices.

The autonomy and brands of each Institute will be preserved and, according to officials with both groups, the amalgamation will “provide the foundation of a stronger, more powerful voice for members and the sector generally.” The IFA brand will continue to operate as part of the IPA Group, which has a worldwide membership—including students—of over 35,000 across more than 80 countries.

“We are delighted that this agreement has been approved by an overwhelming majority vote,” said IFA Council chair Catherine Chamberlain in a statement. “It is based on the premise: ‘one member—two Institutes—three key benefits: greater efficiency, greater effectiveness and greater value for members. We in the IFA acknowledge that we need to secure stepped growth in our membership numbers and enhancement of our current operating model to give us a leading role as the voice both of SMEs and of small and medium-sized professional practices. To help us achieve this long-held strategic goal, we have now secured the agreement of our members to join forces with a credible, like-minded, dynamic accountancy body that shares our vision not only of leading the profession globally but also of having a positive impact on the professional careers of our members long into the future.”

The IPA will also continue to operate autonomously after the deal.

“We are very pleased with the overwhelming decision of IFA members to endorse the coming together of the IPA and the IFA,” said IPA president and chair Wendy Leegel in a statement. “We expect now to see a managed and structured transition which will drive member value and achieve substantial efficiencies. We see this amalgamation as a development which will enhance both the public interest and the accountancy profession globally.”

The amalgamation will enable the IFA to deliver enhanced member support through technology infrastructure improvements as a result of significant investment by the IPA in the IFA’s existing technology. Members will experience enhanced services without interference, according to the groups. This includes joint member recognition at no additional cost, single practice supervision and oversight, online training, stronger technical support, improved career support, stronger advocacy, enhanced external recognition and influence of all members in the small and midsize enterprise and accounting practice sector.

The target date for legal completion of the amalgamation is Dec. 31, 2014. The IFA will transfer its assets and undertakings to the new group.  A new IFA head office will be set up which will also form the European office of the IPA Group.

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