The Netherlands’ two accounting
institutes could merge within the next two years, according to the
head of the country’s largest professional body. Koninklijk
Nederlands Instituut van Register Accountants (NIVRA) chief
executive Gert Smit said the institute has intensified co-operation
with its sister organisation, Nederlandse Orde van Accountants
Administratieconsulenten (NOvAA).

“Everybody is in favour of the merger. It will have to be sooner
than five years time, I hope it will be a maximum of two years. The
legal work is done, in the meantime we can integrate the various
departments we have,” he said.

Cautious approach

Anne-Marike van Arkel, the general director of NOvAA, confirmed
the two boards were working closer but would not offer a time frame
for the merger.

“[Smit] goes a little further than I do; I always stick to the
official terms. I would say that we are looking to see if we can
come to a more intensive co-operation and everybody knows that
somewhere it could lead to one organisation and one institute,” she

van Arkel noted a previous attempt to merge in 1999 was
unsuccessful because of resistance to removing one of NOvAA’s
existing qualifications, the Accountant Administratieconsulent
(AA), and forcing its members to hold only its Register Accountant
(RA) qualification. NIVRA offers only the RA qualification. van
Arkel underlined the appeal of offering two different
qualifications to potential accounting students.

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“From an educational point of view it is very good to have those
two possibilities because you have different types of students. One
course is more practical and one is more abstract, it is good that
you have two possibilities that lead to the profession,” she

Creating one organisation will require a slight law change as
both institutes were founded by different government legislation –
a process overseen by the Dutch Ministry of Finance. The challenge
is to speed up the law-making process so a merger can happen, Smit