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November 14, 2008

Dutch institutes edge closer to merger

By Nicholas Moody

The Netherland’s two accounting institutes have signed a letter of intent to merge following political pressure to simplify legislation governing the institutes and to cement an increasingly close working relationship.

A merger between Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut van Register Accountants (NIVRA) and Nederlandse Orde van Accountants Administratieconsulenten (NOvAA) had not been expected to occur for another two years.

The move will create a professional organisation with more than 20,000 members.

NIVRA spokesman Marc Schweppe said the merger was a logical decision and now is the right time to speed up the process.

“There is some political pressure to arrange the profession in a clear and efficient way. We have two different accounting laws in the Netherlands, [one for NOvAA and one for NIVRA] which is pretty complicated. We have recognised that both professions have been working together much more closely in the past few years. So the time is right,” he said.

Political support

Dutch Minister of Finance Wouter Bos is very much in favour of changing the two existing accounting laws to one new law for both institutes to make it more practical and efficient for all parties, Schweppe said.

Efforts to merge the institutes about a decade ago failed due to the intention to combine the institutes’ qualifications.

In the new merger the two institutes’ separate qualifications will continue to coexist.

NIVRA members audit large and listed companies while NOvAA auditors mainly serve SME clients. About 66 percent of NOvAA members work as public accountants compared to 31 percent of NIVRA members. NOvAA chairman Gert-Jan van der Wielen said both organisations already worked closely together, such as in the regulation of auditors, and the merger would provide a stronger voice on behalf of the audit profession.

Detailed merger plans will be provided to members of both organisations next year but no concrete timeline has yet been set.

Nicholas Moody

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