The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) has reported at today’s AGM that its membership has surpassed the 20,000 mark, with half of them based outside Scotland.

The institute had reported 19,846 members in the year to 31 December 2012, up 2% from 19,409 registered in 2011, according to The Accountant’s 2013 UK survey.

ICAS, which this year is commemorating its 160th anniversary, has now reported 20,186 members, consolidating a growth trend of 26% in the last decade.

"2014 sees the 160th anniversary of the first professional body of accountants in the world. This is an opportunity to reaffirm the spirits of the founders and their determination to be a body of men and women who preserve the integrity of the profession," ICAS chief executive Anton Colella said.

The institute remains committed to building its professional communities internationally, an ICAS spokesperson told The Accountant.

Half of ICAS membership is based outside Scotland, spread across more than 100 countries, such as Australia where it has are more than 600 members, according to The Accountant’s 2014 World Survey.

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However the number of students didn’t increase in 2013. In the previous year, studentship decreased by 12%, from 3,464 to 3,056 students who were enrolled on the institute’s qualification in 2011.

In terms of student intake, ICAS reported 767 new students in 2013, down from 963 in 2012.
In that respect, Colella said the challenges for ICAS are the same as for other institutes, which primarily are keep bringing in students.

"Our student numbers dropped in recent years but we are working very hard. Training chartered accountants is at the heart of this institute. We’ve been doing this very well for many years. And we’ll continue to do it for the future," Colella said.

ICAS made public today its annual report, which included both financial and non-financial information with a focus on sustainability and the analysis of risks faced by the institute.

According to its financial statements, audited by BDO, more than 75% of ICAS income came from education and member subscription fees. The rest related chiefly to regulation fees and commercial activity.

ICAS reported profits of £1.25m ($2.1m) of which £84,000 were attributable to its charitable trust, the Scottish Accountancy Trust for Education and Research.

In 2013, however, income fell by £706,000, mainly due to the fact that ICAS did not increase its regulation income, unlike in 2012 when £452,000 were raised related to the UK Financial Reporting Council levy.

According to its report, revenue from education decreased by £140,000 due to the reduced student numbers but cost control and a £77,000 increase in member income contributed to offset this reduction.

In March 2013, a bill to provide for an independence referendum was tabled in the Scottish parliament scheduled for 18 September 2014, when people in Scotland will decide whether or not the country remains united to the UK.

"I think ICAS did an outstanding job to get the real issues on the table and really get the debate going so the people can make an informed choice when the referendum takes places this year," ICAS exiting president Brendan Nelson said.

Last year ICAS published a report entitled Scotland’s Pensions Future – what pensions arrangements would Scotland need? According to ICAS it was recognised by both sides as a valuable contribution to the debate and extensively covered by the media.

Nelson, who is finalising his presidential year, wondered if he was handing over an institute in a better shape than that he inherited.

"When I inherited the institute it was in an outstanding shape. The work of David Tweedie and many of his predecessors have done, continued to grow and enhance this institute," Nelson said.

Jann Brown has been appointed president. Nelson said he was confident she would continue the momentum that has been built up both nationally and internationally.

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